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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Performance, Quality and Reliability | Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) | RAID Configuration and Implementation | RAID Hard Disk Drive Requirements ]
Number of Drives
The number of hard drives in the system has an important impact on both capacity and performance. Many RAID enthusiasts believe that the more drives you put in the array, the better off you are--and this usually is mostly true. At the same time, there are also disadvantages to using more drives as opposed to fewer.
The number of drives in the array affects the following aspects of the array directly:
The #1 question that people ask about the number of drives to use in an array goes something like this: "Should I use three 36 GB drives, or six 18 GB drives?" The answer, of course, is "it depends". For people who really want to maximize performance--which is most people--the answer is six 18 GB drives. However, if you do this, you must be prepared for the extra costs. As mentioned above, sometimes the deciding factor is how many drives the system can hold; it might be ideal to make a striped array out of twelve 9 GB drives instead of either of the options above, but few systems can handle twelve drives without adding an expensive external enclosure, which totally changes the cost picture of the entire system. The capabilities of the controller can also enter the picture, as they will often have a limit on the number of drives they will support.
Next: Drive Size