SoftRAID protects your data from disk failure
Search SoftRAID

Choosing the best RAID level

Whatever you do, and whatever you need it for, there's a RAID level that's perfect for you:

  • I DO: Video, Audio & Photography editing

    I NEED: lightning fast access for scratch disk use

    WE SUGGEST: SoftRAID RAID 0 (stripes) for data access speed (Caution: RAID 0 gives no protection against disk failure)


  • I DO: Design work, Photography, Animation etc.

    I NEED: Fast access, safe storage and to meet deadlines

    WE SUGGEST: SoftRAID RAID 5 (or RAID 4 with SSDs) for great speed, data safety and the ability to work through disk failure.
    We also suggest RAID 1+0 if you have 4 or more disks, and need to write many small files to your disk


  • I DO: Run a business with critical data

    I NEED: Complete protection against disk failure

    WE SUGGEST: SoftRAID RAID 1 for maximum protection against disk failure


  • I DO: Run a server

    I NEED: Speed, safety, and a flexible system

    WE SUGGEST: SoftRAID RAID 5 to give flexibility along with fast data access and full protection from disk failure.


  • I DO: Use my computer for work and play, and for storing music, photos and other important files

    I NEED: Fast access and protection against disk failure

    WE SUGGEST: SoftRAID RAID 5 (or RAID 4 with SSDs) to give fast data access and keep files safe from disk failure.
    We also suggest RAID 1+0 if you have 4 or more disks, and need to write many small files to your disk

SoftRAID will help you create the perfect set up so you can keep on working and let the software take care of your data

How RAID works to protect your data

A SoftRAID RAID system allows you to 'bundle' up to 16 disks to work together—so you get faster data access and data safety, protecting you against disk failure.*

In order to use space on different disks, SoftRAID creates what's called a RAID volume. You can think of a volume as a container for your files. Each disk in your RAID volume contributes some of its space to that container.

With RAID 4, RAID 5 and RAID 1+0 (aka RAID 10), you can lose a disk and carry on working, though SoftRAID will warn you well in advance if your disk looks likely to fail. With RAID 0 you'll get lightning fast disk access, though your data won't be protected against disk failure.

The great thing about SoftRAID is that you can have more than one RAID volume on your disks, so don't have to choose between speed of access and data safety: you can have both!

In order to use space on different disks, SoftRAID creates what's called a RAID volume.

You can think of a volume as a container for your files. Each disk in your RAID volume contributes some of its space to that container.

With RAID 4, 5 and 1+0 (aka 10), you can lose a disk and carry on working—though SoftRAID will warn you well in advance if your disk looks likely to fail. With RAID 0 you'll get lightning fast disk access, though your data won't be protected against disk failure.

The great thing about SoftRAID is that you can have more than one RAID volume on your disks, so don't have to choose between speed of access and data safety: you can have both!

RAID 0: Super fast scratch disk for Video, Audio & Photography editing

icon for SoftRAID RAID stripe volume

SoftRAID RAID Stripe Volume
(RAID 0)

SoftRAID RAID 0, or stripe, volumes give you the fastest possible data access and are perfect for work that involves a large amount of uncompressed data.

In order to achieve lightening fast access speeds, stripe volumes spread your data across 2 or more disks—each disk contains just part of your data. They're called 'stripes' because your files are, in effect, 'striped' across all the disks in your volume—ie. parts of a single file are spread across all the disks.

RAID 0 allows you to read to, and write from, all the disks in a volume at the same time, so each part of a single file can be accessed simultaneously. If you have four disks in your RAID 0 volume you'll be reading that file approximately 4 times as fast, quadrupling the amount of data you can access in a given time. It's like using a multi-lane highway rather than a single-track road—the highway allows more vehicles through at any one time.

Although stripe volumes give you the fastest possible data access, they provide no protection from disk failure.* When a disk fails on a stripe volume, you will lose all the files on the entire volume.

RAID 0 stripe volumes are perfect for scratch disks in video, audio or photographic editing, or any other time you need extremely fast data access for large amounts of (uncompressed) data.

RAID 0 is not a good solution for long-term storage as it won't protect you against disk failure. If your disk fails in a RAID 0 volume all your data is lost.

You can read a more technical explanation of how RAID 0 stripe volumes work here, or how to set up the fastest possible RAID system here

Safer alternatives to RAID 0

Although RAID 0 is super fast, it's best used for temorary storage only. All disks fail at some point and with RAID 0 you'll get no warning. *

There are other RAID solutions that are almost as fast and give you peace of mind knowing that, if a disk fails, your data is not lost. With SoftRAID, these are RAID 1+0, RAID 4, RAID 5 and mirror (RAID 1) volumes (RAID 1 being the slowest, but safest option).

Combining RAID 0 with another RAID level for increased data safety

If you need RAID 0 for access speed, always remember that SoftRAID allows you to have more than one RAID volume spread across your disks. So you can use the fastest part of each disk for your RAID 0 volume, and create another RAID volume (eg RAID 5, or RAID 1) with the rest of your disk space. And don't worry, you won't have to work out which is the fastest part of your disk, SoftRAID does that for you!

RAID 4 & RAID 5: Safe and Fast, for Design, Photography, Animation & General use

icon for SoftRAID RAID 4 volume

SoftRAID RAID 4 Volume

icon for SoftRAID RAID 5 volume

SoftRAID RAID 5 Volume

RAID 4 and RAID 5 volumes are perfect for storing edited video and audio data, animation files, digital photography, prepress and graphic artwork, and for any situation where you need to safely store a large amount of data, and access it fast.

RAID 4 and RAID 5 volumes give you the best combination for maximizing disk space, fastest access speeds and protection against disk failure. While other RAID levels may give you faster data access, or fail-safe data protection, no other RAID level combines speed, space and safety so well.

With RAID 4 and RAID 5, you'll be able to keep working even after a disk gets an error or fails completely. You won't lose hours retrieving data from the cloud or a backup disk.

How do RAID 4 and RAID 5 allow you to carry on working even with a failed disk? With RAID 4 & 5, each disk contains either a section of a data file, or a piece of 'parity' data, calculated (by SoftRAID) from your actual data. If the disk storing a segment of a data file fails, the parity data is used to reconstruct the missing piece of that file.

RAID 4 and RAID 5 are great if you need to frequently access (read) a lot of fairly small files. However they are much slower at writing many small files to disk, since they have to create 'parity data' for each file. If you need to write many small files, we suggest you use RAID 1+0

Use RAID 4 if you are using SSDs for your RAID system. If you are using mechanical hard drives RAID 5 is best.

You can read a more technical explanation of how RAID 4 and RAID 5 work here and how you can optimize your set up to get even faster read and write speeds here.

RAID 1 for Safety Critical Storage

icon for SoftRAID mirror volume

SoftRAID Mirror Volume
(RAID 1)

RAID 1 (aka. mirror) volumes are ideal for storing all your critically important files. If your work, or business, depends on the files stored on your Mac, you should be using a mirror volume.

RAID 1 are known as mirrors, because each disk in your RAID 1 system contains a volume with identical data; ie. a mirror. As you work on disk A, SoftRAID updates the volume on disk B to be an exact copy of disk A. If you have more than one mirror disk (which is recommended), the extra disks will also be updated so they too are an exact copy of disk A.

With a mirror volume, if a disk fails, you can keep right on working as the remaining disk, or disks, will take over. Because SoftRAID constantly ensures that the data on all your disks is identical, you won't lose a beat…or any data!

For complete reliability, create a RAID 1 system with your main disk, plus 2 or more mirrors. Extra mirror disks can be removed and stored off-site, in different locations, for extra safety. Whenever you plug one of those disks back in, SoftRAID will recognise it as a mirror disk, work out what has changed and quickly update the data so it's once again identical to your working disk. In addition, SoftRAID uses a system which rebuilds mirror volumes incredibly fast, unlike many other RAID 1 systems.

Creating the fastest possible mirror volume

Mirror volumes are generally slower than other RAID volumes, because they are constantly ensuring that each volume is an exact copy of the volume on your working disk. One way to create a faster mirror volume is by using an SSD for your working disk, and a mechanical hard drive for your mirror volume. The SSD gives you incredibly fast read speeds and the hard drive gives you safer storage, protecting your mirrored files from disk failure. (SoftRAID has complete support for SSDs)

You can read a more detailed explanation of how RAID 1 works here

RAID 1+0: The Ultimate Combination of Speed and Data Safety

icon for SoftRAID RAID 1+0 volume

SoftRAID RAID 1+0 Volume

RAID 1+0 combines the speed of RAID 0 stripes, with the safety of RAID 1 mirrors so it's ideal if you need both super fast data access and increased data safety.

If you have 4 or more disks for your RAID volume, this is the best RAID solution there is. It's perfect for businesses that need to store and quickly access a large amount of data, and for servers.

RAID 1+0 volumes are made up of pairs of disks. Each pair, called a mirror pair, contains two disks which have identical information. If one disk in a mirror pair fails, the volume can keep reading and writing your files because it will use the other disk in the mirror pair instead.

The increased speed of RAID 1+0 volumes comes from striping mirrored pairs of disks together. Instead of striping together individual disks, like a stripe (RAID 0) volume, a RAID 1+0 volume treats each mirror pair just like a single disk of a stripe volume. RAID 1+0 volumes can only be made with even numbers of disks and require at least 4 disks. With SoftRAID, you can create RAID 1+0 volumes with up to 16 disks ie. 8 mirrored pairs.


* All disks fail at some rate. Good disks fail at a rate of about 3% a year, bad ones at 25% a year or more. Even SSDs (Solid State Disks) fail at about the same rate.
After more than 500 hours of testing three popular disk brands, SoftRAID staff found - though most worked fine - one brand and model had a 33% failure rate. Your disk could be one that fails at a 3% rate, a 25% rate, or even higher; you won't know till it happens.
Even if you have one of the safer disks, over time, and with more disks, risk of failure increases to as much as 25%. This is why you should only use a RAID 0 volume as part of a larger backup system. If all your data is only on a RAID 0 volume, it's unprotected; if your disk fails, you could lose it all.   top…