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Which is the better RAID level, RAID 5 or RAID 6?


Generally, this question is better posed as “which is the more appropriate RAID level (5 or 6) for a particular application”. Since both RAID 5 and RAID 6 configurations will protect data in the event of disk failures, the decision as to which to use typically depends upon the number of drives in the storage system and how much data protection is desired. A RAID 5 system, regardless of how many drives are in the configuration, will only protect data from a single drive failure. If a second drive fails, before the first failed drive is replaced (and the lost data reconstructed), all of the data on the array will be lost. However, RAID 6 systems can protect from data loss even if two of its drives fail simultaneously. Note that RAID level 5 requires a minimum of 3 drives in a storage system, while RAID 6 requires a minimum of 4 (and sometimes 6) drives. Generally, in order to maximize capacity and protection, RAID 6 is more appropriate only if a storage system has 8 or more drives. With systems that have fewer than 8 drives, RAID 5 is typically the better choice. Additionally, in very mission critical applications, RAID 6 is often the better choice since two drives can fail without incurring data loss. Again, for RAID 6 configurations, it is best employed if a storage system has at least 8 drives.

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