How safe is it to store data on a single drive (no-RAID)?

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Arni Posted: Mon, Oct 6 2008 5:07 AM


I am building myself a new PC and I am having difficulty figuring out appropriate storage configuration.

My motherboard will have 6 SATA II ports. One of them will be used by Velociraptor (main OS drive); one will be reserved for future use; the remaining 4 I intend to use for storage.

I need a lot of storage (hundreds of gigabytes; preferably - terabytes), so I will be filling those 4 SATA ports with WD 1TB Caviar Green Power drives. Data that will be stored on those drives is not of critical nature, but would be time-consuming to recreate.


My questions are:

  • Are the current generation drives reliable enough not to require RAID (for non-critical data)?
  • How does a hard-drive failure manifest itself? Read failures, write failures?
  • If hard drive failed, how likely is it that I would be able to restore data from it?


Many thanks,


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kid007 replied on Mon, Oct 6 2008 7:41 AM

 Good Morning Arni and Welcome to the HH Forums.

1. Current Generation Drives are very very reliable, but all depends what brand you get. everyone has different experiences with many drivers. I will totally recommend Western Digital and Samsung those have work for me since 1998 and I never had a problem with them. I normally swap my HDD's every 3 years not because of failure but because of more data...

2. I seen from other people that they manifest by data corruption! is the most common error.

3. it totally depends i seen hdd be killed by bugs, by water and by electricity problem. and data sometimes are retribable, sometimes are not.

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Arni replied on Mon, Oct 6 2008 8:02 AM

Hi kid007,


Thank you for your reply. That answers my questions.

Would it be worth writing a program that does a weekly hash of all files to check for data corruption?

Would that provide an indication that the drive is about to fail?

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3vi1 replied on Mon, Oct 6 2008 8:17 AM

Don't think of RAID as a solution to backups; RAID and backups don't solve the same problem.  If you overwrite a very important file on a RAID drive, it's gone.  If a virus trashes all your data, even RAID-1 will do nothing for you.  RAID only protects you against hardware faults, and that's not the most common way to lose your data.

>> If hard drive failed, how likely is it that I would be able to restore data from it?

Never, ever, count on being able to do that.  Proper backups are a *MUST*.


I know you're talking about a lot of data, but if you can't afford to recreate it then you have to find some way to afford backing it up.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?


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Arni replied on Mon, Oct 6 2008 9:20 AM


Hi 3vi1,

Thanks for your reply. I will consider using an online backup service.

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Drives usually fail in the first few months or years and years later. If info is ruined by data corruption it is usually recoverable. If it is a hardware failure it is much harder to recover. Hardware failures manifest slowly. you may here a clicking noise, slower read/write times. Also the SMART tech build into drives is getting better at warning you. That said a harddrive failure can be very annoying at best and tragic at worst. I install windows, games, and other stuff of that nature on one drive. Things like pictures, my music, home movies are stored on two different pc and I keep back up DVDs at work. I have a western digital 250gb drive that I bought a few months ago sitting on my desk that died.


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