An NT function lets you partition hard drives in segments for RAID

An NT function lets you partition hard drives in segments for RAID

The trade-offs between the hardware and software approaches to RAID often come down to balancing the performance you need against the money you can afford to pay.

Hardware server RAID systems offer more versatility and better fault-tolerance than software-only systems, especially with the availability of hot-swap and hot-spare drive technology that protects high-level data redundancy better than software can. But for users who cannot afford even the smallest hardware system, there's always Microsoft Windows NT.

Under NT's built-in RAID, any server with an ordinary SCSI controller and one or more fast Intel processors can be turned into a RAID server without the need for a RAID controller or additional hardware.

Windows NT Server's Disk Administrator application lets you partition hard drives into segments, some of which can be used for RAID.

Thus, RAID and non-RAID partitions can exist on the same drive, and multiple drives can be linked together as an array serving up RAID Levels 0, 1 and 5.

What are the trade-offs? Windows NT RAID is simple to install, costs far less to use than even the cheapest hardware-based RAID systems and can stripe and mirror data almost as fast as a hardware system can.

But it cannot compute RAID 5's parity equations as fast as hardware RAID controllers with on-board CPUs, and it isn't capable of the same levels of fault-tolerance.

'J.B. Miles

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