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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Performance, Quality and Reliability | Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) | RAID Configuration and Implementation | RAID Management ]
Service, Support and Maintenance
No discussion of managing a hardware system would be complete without mentioning maintenance. At least, it shouldn't be! :^) I think enough about maintenance that I have a special section where I talk about it in some detail. Rather than repeat all of that information here, I will once again exploit the power of the web and simply refer you to there. Here I will only discuss maintenance as it applies specifically to RAID arrays.
That said, there isn't a lot to say. :^) RAID arrays don't generally require a lot in the way of regular preventive maintenance. You do need to maintain your server hardware, and the array should be part of that, but that's really all you need to do under normal circumstances: No special maintenance is required for RAID controllers or drives. At the same time, many high-end controllers do offer advanced maintenance features which can be useful, such as the following:
Now, let's take a look at service and support issues with RAID (I discuss these in more general terms in this troubleshooting section). In fact, there isn't anything different about service and support of RAID hardware than any other hardware. The difference is that RAID arrays are usually employed in servers used by many people, or in other critical situations which require a minimum of down-time. This means a failure that takes down an array can quickly cost a lot of money, lending an urgency to RAID array service that may not be present for other PCs.
There is no way to avoid down-time entirely unless you spend a truly staggering amount of money (and even then, you should "expect the unexpected".) If a failure occurs, you want to get it corrected as soon as possible, and that means you are reliant to some extent on whatever company is supporting your hardware. If uptime is critical to your application, then in addition to incorporating fault tolerance into your RAID setup, you should purchase an on-site service contract covering your system(s). Be sure to look at all the conditions of a service contract to be sure you understand what it covers--and what it doesn't. If you need immediate response in the event of a hardware fault be sure that the contract specifies that--you'll certainly pay more for it, but you have to weigh that against the cost of an entire company "waiting for the system to come back up".
important issue to keep in mind when considering service and support of your RAID array,
is that some arrays "insist" upon having failed drives replaced with identical
models. You want the company that supplies you with hardware to be able to provide you
with new drives of the appropriate type for the life of the array.
Next: Advanced RAID Features