RAID Recovery and Your Laptop

In an effort to cut costs, many businesses are choosing to extend the operational lifespan of their IT assets, lengthening the period between hardware refreshes. The falling cost of flash-based storage driveshas opened another way for businesses to boost the performance of their laptops, improve their mobile data protection provisions, and extend the operational lifespan – by replacing the largely redundant optical disk drive with a special internal mount for a second drive.

These conversion kits are cheap and relatively easy to fit, providing an economical way to extend the usable life and capacity of the laptop.

With a second drive fitted, the laptop can be configured to use the additional space as extended storage. Alternatively, the second drive can be used to create a two-disk RAID array, offering increased performance or redundancy dependent on the implementation chosen.

For maximum benefit, consider RAID

Although flash drives provide a significant performance boost over traditional spinning disks, the limitations of a laptop means that there is little benefit in creating a RAID 1 array. For the high performance applications, such as gaming, graphic design or 3D modelling, a mirrored drive set up is unlikely to be of use.

A RAID 0 array on the other hand, stripes data across both drives reducing latency and ensuring maximum performance. Applications that need to access large amounts of data quickly will notice an instant performance benefit – particularly where the CPU and RAM may be lagging.

One other factor to consider

The only risk associated with RAID 0 arrays is the potential for data loss should one or both of the drives fail. Because data is written across both drives simultaneously without any kind of parity or mirroring to allow for easy array rebuild, a failed drive can lead to complete data loss.

As flash drive technology continues to improve, the risk of drive failures lessens. But the NAND memory blocks which make up each drive have a finite number of read/write operations after which they begin to fail. If these blocks form part of the disk’s lookup tables, the data stored on the drive becomes corrupted.

Ideally you should have some kind of backup routine in place to ensure that a copy of data is kept separate to the laptop so that it can be recovered in the event of array or disk failure – a Cloud backup provider may help simplify the process assuming the laptop is regularly connected to a sufficiently fast broadband connection.

But without a suitable backup system in place, you will need to perform a RAID recovery. This may be further complicated by the difficulties associated with retrieving data from a flash drive.

Unfortunately RAID 0 recovery is a delicate operation requiring specialist skills, so you should keep an expert provider’s details handy in the event of a problem. But although laptop RAID recovery is tricky, this should not be an excuse for passing up the benefits of a striped array for your laptop.

So if your business needs to extend the life of their existing laptops, and boost performance, replacing the optical drive with a flash disk could be the answer.