How good is Windows 7 software RAID? Is it faster or slower than a cheap hardware controller (aka “fake RAID”)?
This past month I’ve realized the simultaneous need to add more hard drive storage and decrease the probability of losing the data stored within. While I fully realize that redundant hard disks are not a substitute for a backup, I do want to use a RAID array to reduce the likelihood that I have to restore that data from a backup. Also, I plan to put data on that disk that I would be annoyed to lose, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world (i.e. music, movies, etc.).
Disk drives are cheap (1.5TB is currently running around $100), but industrial-grade RAID controllers are not. Being that I’m cheap, have an old (4 years is old, right?) system, and just need a bare-minimum amount of reliability I’m looking for the cheapest way to add a couple of mirrored drives. That basically means that I use a “fake RAID” hardware controller or a solution managed completely by Windows. There are various pros and cons to each, but I’ll tell you up front that Windows 7 software RAID was what I chose because of performance & trust. After the break I’ll get to the details as to why.