Comparison of Software RAID on Windows versus Linux

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Sunday, February 18, 2007

The basic idea of RAID (Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks) is to combine multiple small, independent disk drives into an array of disk drives which yields performance and recoverability exceeding that of a Single Large Expensive Drive (SLED). Redundancy is also provided (unless RAID 0) which allows easy and often automatic recovery from hard disk crash. With the reduction in price of ATA and SATA drives it is often a good idea, even for desktop computers, to setup a RAID 1 system to allow you to function in the event of hard disk failures. In RAID 1 two harddisks (or portions of them) mirror each other. RAID 1 is essential for our environment. I have tested both Windows software RAID facility as well as Linux RAID capability. Linux RAID support is way superior to Windows and should by itself be the reason to switch to Linux. I have given 4 reasons to support my claim below.

Linux supports RAID on block devices. So you can setup RAID between two partitions on the same harddisk or even on two RAID 0 array, effectively creating RAID 10 array. Windows simply supports RAID 0 and GBOD (known as linear on Linux) only for non-server users. Linux support all RAID variants. Even Windows server doesn’t support the intermediate RAID variants.

In Linux as well as Windows you can create RAID arrays spanning machines.

In Windows you cannot install the operating system on RAID. In linux you can even install the operating system on RAID file system. This means if one of the hard disk dies you can easily boot from the other hard disk (assuming you transferred the MBR earlier).

If you have spare harddisks, Linux will automatically configure it and add to the RAID array, should one of the RAID disks fail. This is to my knowledge not possible in Windows.

Linux RAID can be easily configured during installation. All the partitions (/, /opt and even swap) can and should be RAID enabled. Windows RAID is harder to configure and is done after installation of the OS, from disk management.

I think comprehensive RAID support by itself (not to mention security) should be reason enough for SMB servers to switch to / use Linux.

December 1, 2010: 11:05 am

id like to punch you in the face. this doesn’t show performance differences between windows and linux for software raid, it makes me want to throw my cat out my third story window.

March 25, 2010: 3:10 pm

1. In Windows you cannot install the operating system on RAID
2. If you have spare hard disks, Linux will automatically configure it and add to the RAID array, should one of the RAID disks fail. This is to my knowledge not possible in Windows.
3. Linux RAID can be easily configured during installation

Very funny! Even I love Linux more than others but I won’t do black campaign.

December 24, 2009: 12:50 pm

Thanks for sharing this one. For me, im a bit more on
the linux side. I like linux a lot then Microsoft. The
Operating system of microsoft just do buggy. And its
very difficult if there are viruses.

July 26, 2009: 8:36 pm

I’ve setup RAID arrays with Fedora 11 and Windows XP. From my experience I’ve found Windows to be easier to setup, but Fedora has many more options, especially if you use LVM combined with RAID. As the commenter above said it would be nice if users could get some sort of a GUI tool to modify the RAID besides the one included in the installer. If anybody is looking for good tutorials on how to setup RAID in Fedora 11 or Windows XP check out either of these tutorials, Software RAID 0, 1, 5 or JBOD Using Windows XP Pro SP3, Installing Fedora 11 and Setting up a RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 or 10 array

Henk Poley
February 22, 2009: 10:38 pm

GBOD should read as JBOD: Just a Bunch Of Disks

October 22, 2007: 5:30 pm

“Windows RAID is harder to configure and is done after installation of the OS…”
I have found it almost impossible to use a GUI tool for configuring Raid1 on a post installation FC6 system. I do find it irritating that you MUST comfigure the raid partitions (/dev/mdX) using disk druid (the only GUI option i have came up with for linux).
As for Windows, it takes less than 5 sec to make a Raid1 of a post installation system… so why “…harder to configure…”, i really don’t know why you think of this for Windows, when it is clear it’s not.

Next time: for a real beneficial comparison try to be more neutral sticking to the facts ;-)

May 2, 2007: 11:05 am

Windows 2000 Server does support RAID 1 on boot partition as I verified from Microsoft’s web site. Unfortunately the same benefit isn’t available on Windows XP / 2000 Pro software, which I used while evaluating RAID 1 support on boot devices. So I guess my option is to pay a ton for Windows 2000 server or go for Fedora Core 6. My choice is still the same. Anyway the other points are still valid. Thanks for the correction.

May 1, 2007: 5:35 am

Since I don’t like sending unsupported comments, here is my support, in reference to my previous message.

April 30, 2007: 5:05 am

Windows does support software raid 1 for boot. Don’t know where you got your information from on that…

Windows SERVER supports raid 1 for boot, and also supports software raid 5 for additionaly drives/volumes. I can present a screenshot if you want.

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