With the drive vendors now currently selling 3TB drives (and 4TB drives in the near future), what are the advantages/disadvantages of using these massive storage devices?
Large drives are great … you can fit a lot of data into a much smaller storage footprint, but there is a downside. Whether you purchase a 500gb, 1TB, 2Tb or 3Tb drive from the same manufacturer, if they are the same technology then they pretty much run at the same speed. That’s great for standardisation as far as the drive vendor goes, but it impacts on user mentality and overall performance when it comes to RAID.
Almost all server builders will use RAID to safeguard against drive failure. The problem is that large drives allow them to build servers that give the customer the space they want, but use fewer, rather than more, drives in the raid array.
It also means that customers are using mirrors (2 drives), or 3-drive RAID5 configurations more often.
The problem here is that the fewer drives you use, the less “workers” you have reading and writing data.
So a combination of small drive counts and slow raid types (mirrors or small RAID5) lead to less than impressive performance in general.
So are big drives better? Not really … they’re just bigger.
If you are interested in performance as well as capacity, think hard about the RAID configuration you put together, including just how many drives you use to give you the best combination of speed and capacity.
System building is not quite as simple as it used to be!