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OS X RAID bootable?
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Taipan
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Sep 24, 2005, 03:41 PM
 
Hi!

I'm thinking about combining my two 250GB hard drives to a RAID 0 using OS X's built in software RAID feature, but I'm not sure whether it would be bootable. I can't find a clear answer to this, it seems like it depends on the OS version and hardware. I'm running Tiger on a PowerMac G5 Dual 1,8 (4 RAM slots version). I'm not sure about the speed gains, either. Some say it's a big difference, on the other hand according to barefeats only random read/write access improves a lot, while booting and sequential disk access hardly benefit at all. Anybody here with some experience in this area?
Thanks!
     
alex_kac
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Sep 24, 2005, 11:45 PM
 
At least with my Panther Server - the OS X RAID works just fine for booting.
     
OreoCookie
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Sep 25, 2005, 07:18 AM
 
I would definitely advise against using a RAID0 as a boot drive.
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chris v
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Sep 25, 2005, 09:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie
I would definitely advise against using a RAID0 as a boot drive.
So long as you've got a solid backup plan, why not? You're doubling your chances of drive failure, but other than that, what downside do you see? I've been running a RAID 0 at work for over 6 month, and neither drive has failed, yet. My backups are near at hand should one die, so I'm not concerned about losing data, and the RAID has beathed new life into an aging G4 system.

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OreoCookie
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Sep 25, 2005, 11:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by chris v
So long as you've got a solid backup plan, why not? You're doubling your chances of drive failure, but other than that, what downside do you see? I've been running a RAID 0 at work for over 6 month, and neither drive has failed, yet. My backups are near at hand should one die, so I'm not concerned about losing data, and the RAID has beathed new life into an aging G4 system.
Most people don't have a backup (cloning is not a backup). If you do have backups, it's not really a problem (I had 3 harddrives failing within the last six months and lost only three (yes, I could count them one by one) files. Fortunately, these were not really significant files.
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chris v
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Sep 25, 2005, 05:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie
I had 3 harddrives failing within the last six months...
I can see why you'd be gun-shy. That's a pretty sorry track-record. I've had 3 drives fail on me in 10 years. I only lost data in the very first one (1995) and learned my lesson about backups pretty quickly.

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OreoCookie
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Sep 25, 2005, 06:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by chris v
I can see why you'd be gun-shy. That's a pretty sorry track-record. I've had 3 drives fail on me in 10 years. I only lost data in the very first one (1995) and learned my lesson about backups pretty quickly.
Well, in my whole computing history, so that's like 17 years or so, I had four harddrives die on me. Ok, there was another one my brother dropped, but that wasn't death, it was murder But basically I just got terribly unlucky this year.

However I haven't lost any info, basically. I really don't mind a RAID0, but as you can see, most people don't backup properly. I know my parents wouldn't, so I configured a server that does it automatically. I would consider using a RAID0, but my main machine is a PowerBook
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Taipan  (op)
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Sep 26, 2005, 01:26 PM
 
Hi!

Of course I don't do backups, does anyone?
So far I have never lost a hard drive, but then until about two years ago I have always used SCSI drives, which have a longer MTBF if I'm not mistaken. But since my machine is running 24/7 at the moment and I've seen quite a few IDE drives die at work, I'll probably refrain from my RAID plans.
Thanks for your input!
( Last edited by Taipan; Sep 27, 2005 at 08:21 AM. )
     
OreoCookie
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Sep 26, 2005, 02:50 PM
 
I've also seen quite a few SCSI drives die. Nothing replaces a backup.
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Brass
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Sep 26, 2005, 06:40 PM
 
I can see why RAID 1 (mirroring) would be good to use for a boot drive, but I don't understand how RAID 0 (striping) would even work at all as a boot drive, unless the RAID controller was in firmware (or unless you were using external RAID hardware).

Ie, if the boot drive is using RAID 0, how is the system going to load the RAID software required to read the RAID 0 volume? Presumably the raid software in OS X in on the boot drive, and therefore the boot drive needs to be read before the Mac OS X RAID software can be used?

Am I missing something here?

(BTW RAID 1, mirroring, should be fine for booting because it can boot from one sub-mirror, load the RAID software, then resync the mirror, if necessary, and carry on running with the full mirror).
     
CatOne
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Sep 26, 2005, 06:52 PM
 
OS X can boot from a RAID drive (RAID 0 or RAID 1), but not all hardware can. I know the Xserve can do it for sure, and probably Power Mac G5s, but certainly some older hardware cannot do it.

I agree with everyone who feels booting from RAID 0 is a bad idea, for data protection reasons.
     
Brass
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Sep 26, 2005, 07:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by CatOne
OS X can boot from a RAID drive (RAID 0 or RAID 1), but not all hardware can. I know the Xserve can do it for sure, and probably Power Mac G5s, but certainly some older hardware cannot do it.

I agree with everyone who feels booting from RAID 0 is a bad idea, for data protection reasons.
Interesting... and this is Mac OS X's software RAID? Does that mean that the RAID 0 software is in the Mac firmware then? Or that the RAID 0 is only a concatenation and not actually a stripe (in which case I wouldn't bother using it for anything on Mac OS X at all)?

Or maybe it installs a cut down bootloader on each disk with the RAID software which loads first, before even loading the OS?

I'm curious as to how this works.
( Last edited by Brass; Sep 26, 2005 at 07:44 PM. )
     
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Sep 28, 2005, 09:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by Brass
Interesting... and this is Mac OS X's software RAID? Does that mean that the RAID 0 software is in the Mac firmware then? Or that the RAID 0 is only a concatenation and not actually a stripe (in which case I wouldn't bother using it for anything on Mac OS X at all)?

Or maybe it installs a cut down bootloader on each disk with the RAID software which loads first, before even loading the OS?

I'm curious as to how this works.
I believe #3 is the correct answer (or close enough to it). MacOS X's software RAID 0 is a real stripe as I can see activity on both my external drives (which are RAID 0'd). MacOS X's software RAID also supports JBOD (additional proof the RAID 0 is a real RAID 0).
     
CatOne
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Sep 29, 2005, 07:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Brass
Interesting... and this is Mac OS X's software RAID? Does that mean that the RAID 0 software is in the Mac firmware then? Or that the RAID 0 is only a concatenation and not actually a stripe (in which case I wouldn't bother using it for anything on Mac OS X at all)?

Or maybe it installs a cut down bootloader on each disk with the RAID software which loads first, before even loading the OS?

I'm curious as to how this works.
Yes, I'm talking about OS X's software RAID. I don't know the specifics... perhaps the firmware in the Xserve understands the RAID 0. It may be the case on a Power Mac as well... can't be sure, because I wouldn't boot a PowerMac off RAID, as it only has 2 drives, and that means backups have to be in another enclosure somewhere.

But the RAID 0 in OS X's RAID is, in fact, RAID 0 (that is, a stripe). This is readily evident in benchmarking, where you'll see a 2 disk RAID 0 is roughly 2x as fast as the individual disks, for sequential, large file reads.
     
Brass
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Sep 29, 2005, 10:12 PM
 
oh well, sounds good then.

I have to wonder though why anyone would want to stripe over 2 disks. It doubles the chance of catastrophic loss of all data on the disk(s) and does not improve performance (ie, the overhead of running RAID in software counter any gains in speed from striping over 2 or maybe even 3 disks).

You'd need to stripe over at least 3 disks to get any performance gains, and then you'd be tripling the chance of catastrophic loss of all data on the disk(s). I'd only ever use striping with 4 or more disks, and then only if combined with mirroring. In such cases, you'd usually be better off with RAID 5.

Striping alone is the oposite of redundancy in that sense. Maybe that's why they call it RAID "0" - because it provides zero redundancy.

If you've only got 2 disks, you'd be better off mounting them as 2 separate file systems, provided you have some logical way to divide your data between the two.
     
OreoCookie
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Sep 29, 2005, 10:42 PM
 
RAID0 and what some misunderstand as striping are two different things. Sometimes people mistakenly call JBOD (just a bunch of disks) RAID0, although it's not. jbod means, the space is concatenated, but you'll see zero performance improvement as each harddrive is accessed when the file is `above the rim of the previous one'. With RAID0, you need volumes of the same size, but you will have performance improvements with two disks, too.
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Kate
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Sep 30, 2005, 11:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by Brass
Interesting... and this is Mac OS X's software RAID? Does that mean that the RAID 0 software is in the Mac firmware then? Or that the RAID 0 is only a concatenation and not actually a stripe (in which case I wouldn't bother using it for anything on Mac OS X at all)?

Or maybe it installs a cut down bootloader on each disk with the RAID software which loads first, before even loading the OS?

I'm curious as to how this works.
Mac OS uses a special version of SoftRAID, which is basically a driver residing on each disk. No firmware, no boot tricks.

Edit: I should have mentioned, that there is a kernel extension that actually makes use of said driver ...
( Last edited by Kate; Sep 30, 2005 at 12:21 PM. )
     
CatOne
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Sep 30, 2005, 11:47 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie
RAID0 and what some misunderstand as striping are two different things. Sometimes people mistakenly call JBOD (just a bunch of disks) RAID0, although it's not. jbod means, the space is concatenated, but you'll see zero performance improvement as each harddrive is accessed when the file is `above the rim of the previous one'. With RAID0, you need volumes of the same size, but you will have performance improvements with two disks, too.
No... JBOD is "just a bunch of disks." No striping, no concatenation, nothing. No RAID whatsoever, hence the description.

Concatenation isn't RAID, but it's not JBOD, either. JBOD does no volume aggregation, concatenation, or anything.
     
OreoCookie
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Sep 30, 2005, 12:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by CatOne
No... JBOD is "just a bunch of disks." No striping, no concatenation, nothing. No RAID whatsoever, hence the description.

Concatenation isn't RAID, but it's not JBOD, either. JBOD does no volume aggregation, concatenation, or anything.
That's exactly what I said. JBOD `concatenates the disk space' which it certainly does (it just adds all the disk space). I haven't said anything about volume aggregation or concatenation of volumes.

So I'm not sure why you say `no' here … since we do not seem to disagree at all.
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Oct 1, 2005, 02:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by Brass
I have to wonder though why anyone would want to stripe over 2 disks. It doubles the chance of catastrophic loss of all data on the disk(s) and does not improve performance (ie, the overhead of running RAID in software counter any gains in speed from striping over 2 or maybe even 3 disks).
Not sure that I agree. I've got two identical 160GB drives, each in an identical FW400 case, striped (RAID 0; not JBOD) via OS X's utilities, and even over a single FW400 channel I can tell that both reads and writes are faster - not earth-shatteringly, but noticeable for sure.
     
chris v
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Oct 1, 2005, 10:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by Brass
I have to wonder though why anyone would want to stripe over 2 disks. It doubles the chance of catastrophic loss of all data on the disk(s) and does not improve performance (ie, the overhead of running RAID in software counter any gains in speed from striping over 2 or maybe even 3 disks).
I can tell you from personal experience using a software RAID 0 array as a boot disk, ( I did a little bit of unscientific benchmarking before and after) I am getting about a 20-30% faster boot time & application launches, and more impressively, about 40-50% faster open/save times with large photoshop files. It's not twice as fast, but close to half-again.

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CharlesS
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Oct 1, 2005, 11:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie
I've also seen quite a few SCSI drives die. Nothing replaces a backup.
I've seen a lot of SCSI drives die. Of course, when I was a kid, my dad would set up the computers, and he didn't believe in SCSI terminators, so...

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Brass
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Oct 2, 2005, 05:52 PM
 
Well, I'm glad you guys are all getting good performance on your RAID 0 systems. Just make sure you've got good backup plans.

Don't forget that your dramatically increasing your chances of catastrophic data loss due to disk failure by using RAID 0.
     
chris v
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Oct 2, 2005, 08:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by Brass
Well, I'm glad you guys are all getting good performance on your RAID 0 systems. Just make sure you've got good backup plans.

Don't forget that your dramatically increasing your chances of catastrophic data loss due to disk failure by using RAID 0.
Read the thread. I have a lovely automatic backup plan. I never touch it-- it just backs up when it's supposed to. Also, "dramatically?" I think actually, you exactly double your chances of drive failure. No more, no less. I can handle those odds, when I think back on all the drives I've owned, and how many have failed. (the only one theat really died with unrecoverable data was actually murdered by problems with the SCSI chain it was on, which we figured out when its replacement was also murdered in 3 days) Hard drives these days are fairly robust, in general.

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Brass
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Oct 2, 2005, 08:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by chris v
Read the thread. I have a lovely automatic backup plan. I never touch it-- it just backs up when it's supposed to. Also, "dramatically?" I think actually, you exactly double your chances of drive failure. No more, no less. I can handle those odds, when I think back on all the drives I've owned, and how many have failed. (the only one theat really died with unrecoverable data was actually murdered by problems with the SCSI chain it was on, which we figured out when its replacement was also murdered in 3 days) Hard drives these days are fairly robust, in general.
My post was not aimed at you specifically. Just a general comment to anyone using, or considering using, RAID 0. The reason being, that "RAID" implies redundancy (that's the "R") and redundancy implies less likelyhood of data loss due to disk failure. People who didn't know what was going on might think that RAID 0 reduces the risk of data loss due to disk failure. I was just making a general comment to the population in general, making sure that anyone who cares to listen was aware that that is not actually the case.

And, yes. I would consider doubling the chances of total data loss to be a "dramatic" increase in chances.
     
chris v
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Oct 3, 2005, 09:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by Brass
My post was not aimed at you specifically. Just a general comment to anyone using, or considering using, RAID 0. The reason being, that "RAID" implies redundancy (that's the "R") and redundancy implies less likelyhood of data loss due to disk failure. People who didn't know what was going on might think that RAID 0 reduces the risk of data loss due to disk failure. I was just making a general comment to the population in general, making sure that anyone who cares to listen was aware that that is not actually the case.

And, yes. I would consider doubling the chances of total data loss to be a "dramatic" increase in chances.
Oh, how weird. I posted up a reply to this yesterday, and now it's not here. Anyway, I agree-- RAID 0 is not for the casual user. It has, however, prolonged the life of my Dual 1.0 G4 past the point where I was getting sick of it by about 7 months now, which means it's paid for itself in that I haven't been too tempted to get a G5 to replace it since then.

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Oct 4, 2005, 04:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by chris v
Hard drives these days are fairly robust, in general.
No, they are not.

Hard drives these days are too high-density, too fast, and FAR too cheap to be any good. The combination of those three hit a wall a few years ago IMO.

I've seen enough drives die in the last year that I no longer trust the mother****ers any further than I can throw them.

Unfortunately, there is no real option except redundancy.

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chris v
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Oct 4, 2005, 07:58 AM
 
Anybody have any real stats on lifespan/failure rates? do one in 1000 drives die within a year? 1 in 10 within five years? Curious if that's tracked industry-wide.

I do suppose I've been lucky, reading some threads around here.

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Taipan  (op)
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Oct 4, 2005, 11:49 AM
 
Actually I believe that hard drives can be thrown relatively far.
( Last edited by Taipan; Oct 5, 2005 at 10:07 AM. )
     
chris v
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Oct 4, 2005, 03:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by Taipan
Actually I believe that hard drive can be thrown relatively far.
True. Seeing as how a RAID 0 would weigh twice as much, you could only throw it half as far. Could be a serious issue.

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CatOne
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Oct 4, 2005, 04:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie
That's exactly what I said. JBOD `concatenates the disk space' which it certainly does (it just adds all the disk space). I haven't said anything about volume aggregation or concatenation of volumes.

So I'm not sure why you say `no' here … since we do not seem to disagree at all.
No, JBOD does NOT concatenate space. If you have 10 disks, JBOD will show you 10 drives. And no fewer.

Maybe you need to look up the meaning of the word concatenation ;-) OS X's disk utility gives you the option for concatenation under the RAID options
     
leperkuhn
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Oct 4, 2005, 05:51 PM
 
I'm assuming that using raid 0 is only beneficial if you have SATA or SCSI?
( Last edited by leperkuhn; Oct 4, 2005 at 06:02 PM. Reason: forgot scsi)
     
OreoCookie
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Oct 4, 2005, 06:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by CatOne
No, JBOD does NOT concatenate space. If you have 10 disks, JBOD will show you 10 drives. And no fewer.

Maybe you need to look up the meaning of the word concatenation ;-) OS X's disk utility gives you the option for concatenation under the RAID options
You're incorrect. Read up on JBOD here.

For convenience, I will quote the relevant parts for you (emphasis mine).

JBOD isn't really RAID at all, but I discuss it here since it is sort of a "third cousin" of RAID... JBOD can be thought of as the opposite of partitioning: while partitioning chops single drives up into smaller logical volumes, JBOD combines drives into larger logical volumes. It provides no fault tolerance, nor does it provide any improvements in performance compared to the independent use of its constituent drives. (In fact, it arguably hurts performance, by making it more difficult to use the underlying drives concurrently, or to optimize different drives for different uses.)

...

Avoiding Drive Waste: If you have a number of odd-sized drives, JBOD will let you combine them into a single unit without loss of any capacity; a 10 GB drive and 30 GB would combine to make a 40 GB JBOD volume but only a 20 GB RAID 0 array. This may be an issue for those expanding an existing system, though with drives so cheap these days it's a relatively small advantage.
Originally Posted by leperkuhn
I'm assuming that using raid 0 is only beneficial if you have SATA or SCSI?
No, it works equally well with Parallel ATA. The first few revisions of XRaids were PATA for instance. The physical connector doesn't matter, it's the overall throughput which matters.
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Oct 4, 2005 at 06:23 PM. )
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leperkuhn
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Oct 4, 2005, 07:13 PM
 
will it with with a master / slave set up? do the drives need to be the same size?
     
anthonyyeung
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Oct 31, 2005, 05:07 AM
 
OS X 10.4.2 boots up either from RAID 0 or 1 with Seagate SATA 200G x 2 on G5 1.8G dual. Be reminded to backup frequently particularly with a RAID 0 configuration for the risk calculated from a combined MTBF. Although I am neither using Softraid 3.x (used to be a softraider 2.x bundled in Adaptec PowerDomain 39160 in the old days of OS 9.x) nor an advocator of this product, I do recommend anyone seriously consider this piece of great software for mirroring to multiple drives.

The boot up from RAID 0 looks a bit faster than the LaCie 500G/Firewire 800 (internally 250G x 2 also in RAID 0). Perhaps that has something to do with the G5 Firewire 800 performance bottleneck (http://www.it-enquirer.com/main/ite/...power_mac_g5/).

Originally Posted by Taipan
Hi!

I'm thinking about combining my two 250GB hard drives to a RAID 0 using OS X's built in software RAID feature, but I'm not sure whether it would be bootable. I can't find a clear answer to this, it seems like it depends on the OS version and hardware. I'm running Tiger on a PowerMac G5 Dual 1,8 (4 RAM slots version). I'm not sure about the speed gains, either. Some say it's a big difference, on the other hand according to barefeats only random read/write access improves a lot, while booting and sequential disk access hardly benefit at all. Anybody here with some experience in this area?
Thanks!
     
SciFrog
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Oct 31, 2005, 06:50 PM
 
This was posted somewhere else, but no answer so:

can I create a bootable RAID 1 in Mac OS X with one internal drive plus one FW external drive (like for an iMac or a Cube)?

Of course you can do it with two internal or two external...
     
chadseld
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Nov 6, 2005, 06:36 PM
 
A few thoughts:
1. If you are not doing regular backups you are going to regret it. This applies whether you use RAID or not.
2. If you ARE doing regular backups, then why not run RAID 0?
3. Your G5 will boot just fine from a RAID 0.
4. Buy retrospect, or use the .mac backup app. Peace of mind is worth the $$.
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badtz
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Nov 8, 2005, 11:18 PM
 
How much of a performance hit [in terms of processor usage] does it take to run OS X's software RAID-0?

Is it worth it to alleviate this by running a true hardware RAID-0 solution? (but wouldn't OS X still take a performance hit to run the card?)
     
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Nov 9, 2005, 12:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by SciFrog
This was posted somewhere else, but no answer so:

can I create a bootable RAID 1 in Mac OS X with one internal drive plus one FW external drive (like for an iMac or a Cube)?

Of course you can do it with two internal or two external...
I did this once with Softraid. I think it also works with vanilla OS X.
     
   
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