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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 Levels | Technical Factors Differentiating RAID Levels ]
Like fault tolerance, performance is one of the main reasons that many people implement RAID arrays; and like fault tolerance, it is an important way that RAID levels differ greatly from one to the next. In fact, some RAID levels differ only in terms of performance.
Not only does performance vary between RAID levels, different types of performance vary between RAID levels. It is not meaningful to boil things down to just "performance"; rather, we must look at the issues of read and write performance; and positioning and transfer performance. RAID level "A" may be better than level "B" at one aspect of performance but much worse than "B" in another.
To make things more clear in explaining and contrasting the different RAID levels, I have combined these two two-element variables--read vs. write and positioning (random access) vs. transfer (sequential access)--into a "matrix" of four specific performance categories:
Notes about performance assessments and comparisons (i.e., "very good", "fair", "poor", etc.) of RAID levels: