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A RAID array can provide additional reliability against HDD failures, but what do I do in case when the RAID controller itself fails? The question includes both self-sufficient NAS/DAS boxes and motherboard extension cards (e.g. PCI).

I understand that I can replace the failed hardware and thus restore my device, but I see some caveats:

  1. If my hardware fails in 5 years, there is no warranty that the manufacturer still exists on Earth and conducts its business.
  2. There is no warranty that the model is still being manufactured.
  3. Even if the required model is found as a new or used, as I understand it may have another firmware version which may render it incompatible with the existing array. It may be difficult to change firmware since it might be hard to find the proper image, moreover it might be impossible to find out what version has been installed in the failed device.

I can see a lot of questions here, on StackExchange sites, and overall in the Internet, on the topics related to this (like "my XXX controller failed, will my array work with YYY controller?").

The main question: What is my strategy to mitigate the risk of not finding a proper replacement in 5–10 years future?

An additional question: from the design perspective it seems like the current situation is mess. There should be a standard for storing metadata of RAID arrays, followed by all manufacturers. Why after dozens of years since invention of RAID, people still have to ask questions like above?

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  • My answer - don't use hardware RAID! If you use software RAID then you don't need to worry about hardware controllers failing. Mdadm (Linux software RAID) is well tested, and will work even with different controllers. Its also cheap. Most servers will allow you to hot-swap drives (but it can be a tad trickier then raid hardware). I guess if you use RAID 6 ,the CPU.may be a bottleneck, but RAID1 and 10 are lightweight.
    – davidgo
    Apr 23, 2020 at 1:30
  • Also, look at ZFS based systems (unraid?). These do software RAID like things with cool advantages - although they don't play well with hardware RAID.
    – davidgo
    Apr 23, 2020 at 1:31

1 Answer 1

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Perhaps only buy RAID controllers from major manufacturers which publish an EOL date?

Forex, https://ark.intel.com lists the expected discontinuance date for Intel products, as you can see in this example: https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/77346/intel-raid-controller-rs3dc080.html

Excerpt from ark.intel.com for Dark Canyon RAID controller

Even though a major manufacturer stops making an add-in card controller, it will remain on the market for years therafter.

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  • This absolutely makes sense, but as I can see, manufacturers have such policies mainly for enterprise-grade devices with ~$1000 price (without HDD). It seems a bit too much for a home solution...
    – greatvovan
    Apr 23, 2020 at 0:04
  • Try half of that for the top-of-the-line Intel controller mentioned above esaitech.com/intel-rs3dc080.html
    – K7AAY
    Apr 23, 2020 at 2:00

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