RAID as Backup Solution


Today’s Question: You’ve answered several questions about recommendations for backing up your photos both locally and remotely. But I don’t believe I’ve seen you recommend RAID as a backup solution. Wouldn’t that provide an easier approach, at least for some aspects of a backup workflow?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I actually tend to prefer not to use RAID as a backup solution, or more to the point not as an exclusive backup solution. I always prefer to have my data backed up instead to a completely separate storage device from the original.

More Detail: RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks (or Drives). To oversimplify, you can think of RAID as providing an option to have your data written to two (or more) drives at the same time. The drive only appears as a single drive on your computer, but the data is being stored redundantly on two (or more) drives within the RAID device.

While RAID provides an option for a completely automatic real-time backup, it also includes some risks. There are various levels of RAID, which include different levels of redundancy and error-checking, among other factors. The overall specifications of a RAID storage device can be fantastic. However, there are limitations.

The primary reason I prefer not to use RAID for data backup is that the drives are all within a single device and all those drives are connected to the computer at the same time. That means if there is a serious issue that causes the RAID device to be damaged beyond repair, you would lose all your data and the backup stored on the same RAID device.

Because of this concern, I don’t recommend using RAID as an exclusive backup solution. My personal preference is to not use RAID redundancy at all, but if you’re going to use it I still recommend also backing up to at least one additional separate drive that you manage locally, and at least one offsite backup such as with a cloud-based backup solution.