What is RAID? Different levels of RAID(0-6,10)

RAID- Redundant Array of Inexpensive/Independent Disks

  • RAID is the technique in which we use multiple physical hard disks which all together act as a single logical hard disk.

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  • Initially, RAID was known as Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks because larger hard disks were costly, so we used multiple smaller disks.
  • Nowadays we use RAID to increase performance and reliability so now RAID is Redundant Array of Independent Disks.
  • Based on certain criteria how these multiple hard drives are used we have different RAID levels.

Here is a short video which i made to help you understand better!

RAID Levels



  • In RAID 0 all the data is striped and equally divided among the number of available disks.
  • Striping can be bitwise/byte wise/block wise.
  • Redundancy is not present as the same data is not copied anywhere else.
  • Performance is better as more than one disk participates in read/write operation.
  • Consider this example- If one man is asked to write A-Z the amount of time taken by him will be more as compared to 2 men writing A-Z because from the 2 men one man will write A-M and another will write N-Z  at the same time so this will speed up the process.
  • Hence, more the number of disks involved in read/write operation better will be the performance.
  • As there is no redundancy i.e. no copy of data is maintained reliability is low. So if any one of the disk fails we lose the data.



  • In RAID 1 we perform mirroring.
  • We mirror i.e make copies of all the available data.
  • This is expensive as more number of disks are required to make copies.
  • It is reliable because if one disk is lost we already have another copy of it.
  • It doesn’t help in increasing the performance.



  • RAID 2 uses Error Correcting code like Hamming code to restore the damaged data.
  • More than 2 bits are used for storing ECC so minimum 3 dedicated disks are required for storing ECC with 1bit on each disk.
  • Data is split bit wise across the data storing disks(Here from disk 0 – disk 3) while ECC is stored in ECC storing disks(Here disk 4 – disk 6)
  • This is expensive as more disks are required.
  • It lowers the write operation as for every write operation ECC has to be calculated which is time consuming.



  • In RAID 2 we used minimum 3 dedicated disks to store ECC
  • In RAID 3 we use the concept of Parity instead of ECC.
  • In this case Parity is XOR values of A1,A2 and A3. If they contain even number of 1s then Parity is set to 0 and if they contain odd number of 1s then Parity is set to 1.
  • Only 1 bit is used so this requires only 1 dedicated disk.
  • RAID 3 increases the performance as all the disks participate in every read/write operation.
  • It doesn’t increase number of simultaneous accesses as all the disks participate in each read/write operation so no disk is available to service other read/write request.



  • RAID 4 is similar to RAID 3. The only difference is that in RAID 3 we split the data bit wise but in RAID 4 we split the data block wise.
  • As blocks are bigger than bits, so smaller read/write operations involve only one disk. So other disks are free to service other read/write requests so RAID 4 increases the number of simultaneous accesses.
  • As only one disk is involved performance is not increased.
  • It is mainly suitable for larger read/write operations in which many blocks of data will have to be either read or written, so more than one disk will be involved which will boost the performance.



  • In RAID 3 and RAID 4 one dedicated disk was used to store the parity information. If this disk fails we will lose our entire backup.
  • To overcome this flaw in RAID 5 we distribute the parity data evenly among all the disks.
  • Any formula can be used to distribute it evenly.(example- as we have 5 disks here parity of nth block will be stored in n(mod 5)+1 disk.)
  • Here one parity bit per block is stored in a disk chosen by the formula and the actual data is divided among the other disks.
  • This reduces the potential overuse of a single disk.
  • As only one bit of parity is stored we can overcome failures if only 1 disk fails, if more than 1 disk fails RAID 5 cannot help in recovering the damaged data.



  • RAID 6 is similar to RAID 5.
  • In  RAID 5 we used only one parity bit but in RAID 6 we use more than one parity bit.
  • This extra bit contains extra redundant information which helps to recover from multiple disk failures.


  • This is the hybrid of  RAID 0 and RAID 1
  • So it gives better performance as well as reliability.
  • RAID 0 – Striping of data
  • RAID 1- Mirroring of data

RAID 0+1


  • Here first we mirror the available data and form copies of it.
  • Then we stripe those copies.

RAID 1+0


  • Here we first stripe the data.
  • Then we mirror the striped data to form copies.