raid 5 vs raid 6

RAID 5 Vs RAID 6 – Which Is Better And When?

Different RAID ranges supply totally different advantages. Some present efficiency features by pooling storage capability and skim/write I/O, whereas others shield in opposition to {hardware} failure by knowledge redundancy.

Among these ranges, RAID 5 and 6 have been two of the preferred ones in latest occasions, as they supply a mixture of each efficiency and security. Due to their varied similarities, it may be complicated to determine when it’s finest to make use of RAID 5 vs RAID 6. 

As such, we’ll talk about what these two RAID ranges precisely are, their most important similarities and variations, and when to make use of both one on this article.

What is RAID 5?

As acknowledged, totally different RAID ranges concentrate on knowledge safety and efficiency enchancment to various levels. RAID 5 offers each of those by block-interleaved distributed parity.

raid 5 array layout

This signifies that striping happens on the block degree. The dimension of those blocks, also called chunk dimension, is as much as the consumer to set, nevertheless it usually ranges from 64KB – 1MB. 

Additionally, for every stripe, one chunk of parity knowledge is written. These parity blocks are unfold throughout the array as a substitute of being saved on a devoted parity disk. 

We’ll cowl why RAID 5 handles parity like this additional within the article, however finally, this ends in one disk value of area being reserved for parity knowledge.


  • Fault tolerance in opposition to single disk failure
  • High usable storage capability
  • High studying pace
  • Can be arrange with a {hardware} controller or applied by software program

  • Penalty on write efficiency
  • Can solely deal with one disk failure. Any extra results in failure of the array
  • Risky rebuild course of

What is RAID 6?

RAID 6 is lots like RAID 5, nevertheless it makes use of two distributed parity blocks throughout a stripe as a substitute of 1. This one element modifications the whole lot from the extent of fault tolerance supplied by the array to the efficiency and usable storage.

raid 6 array layout

Writing parity twice makes the array rather more dependable however by the identical token, write efficiency additionally suffers twice the penalty. Read efficiency, although, very like RAID 5, is superb.


  • Fault tolerance in opposition to two disk failures
  • Great learn efficiency
  • Rebuilding after disk failure is safer

  • Higher write efficiency overhead
  • Two disks value of area wanted for parity

RAID 5 Vs RAID 6 – Main Differences

RAID 5 and 6 primarily differ in the truth that RAID 6 makes use of two parity blocks per stripe, whereas RAID 5 solely makes use of one. But as acknowledged, this results in quite a few different variations as effectively, which we’ll cowl within the following sections.

Fault Tolerance

The very first thing that the parity block rely impacts is the fault tolerance degree. In a RAID 5 array, one block-sized chunk of parity knowledge is written for each stripe. In the occasion of disk failure, the misplaced knowledge may be recomputed utilizing the parity knowledge and the info on the opposite disks within the array.


Essentially, which means a RAID 5 array can deal with one disk failure with none knowledge loss. Usually, anyway. This fault tolerance was the explanation why RAID 5 was highly regarded till the 2010s. These days although, RAID 5 is never used as its reliability is not as much as par. This is as a result of approach most {hardware} RAID controllers deal with rebuilds. 

If the controller encounters an Unrecoverable Read Error (URE) through the rebuild, it is going to usually mark the complete array as failed to stop additional knowledge corruption. Unless you’ve gotten backups or plan to get well knowledge from particular person disks, the info is misplaced.

HDD sizes grew exponentially within the final 20 years, however learn/write pace enhancements had been rather more average. Essentially, the dimensions of arrays elevated at a lot higher charges than knowledge switch speeds, which meant that rebuild occasions began to get very lengthy.

Depending on the setup, rebuilding the array after a disk fails might take from hours to days. Such rebuild occasions meant a better probability of encountering UREs through the rebuild, which interprets to a better probability of the complete array failing.

In latest years, URE prevalence charges in HDDs have dropped considerably because of technological enhancements. Due to this, RAID 5 remains to be used right here and there. But the final business consensus is to nonetheless go for RAID 6 or different ranges, and for good purpose.

In RAID 6, parity knowledge is written twice per stripe. This means a RAID 6 array can maintain as much as two disk failures with out knowledge loss. This makes RAID 6 rather more dependable and thus higher suited to bigger arrays with essential knowledge.

Write Performance

hdd disk head

A RAID 5 array has to learn the info, calculate the parity, write the info, after which the parity. Due to this, RAID 5 suffers a penalty on workloads involving writes. 

RAID 6 includes calculating and writing parity twice, which is nice for reliability, nevertheless it additionally signifies that it suffers twice the overhead for writing operations.

For smaller I/O sizes (usually 256 KB and beneath), RAID 5 and 6 have very comparable write efficiency. But with bigger I/O sizes, RAID 5 is certainly superior.

Number of Disks

RAID 5 requires two disks for striping and one disk value of area to retailer parity knowledge. This signifies that a RAID 5 array requires 3 disk models on the minimal.

RAID 6 is comparable, nevertheless it requires a minimal of 4 disks as a result of parity knowledge occupies two disks value of area.

Usable Storage

In a RAID 5 array, the usable storage may be calculated with (N – 1) x (Smallest disk dimension), the place N is the variety of disk models. For occasion, we’ve proven a RAID 5 array with three 1 TB disks under. One disk value of area is used to retailer parity knowledge, and because the smallest disk dimension is 1 TB, the usable area comes out to 2 TB.

raid 5 usable storage

It’s essential to attempt to use same-size disks, as in any other case, the smallest disk would create a bottleneck which leads to a whole lot of unusable area. The instance under exhibits the identical situation, the place the five hundred GB disk has resulted in 1.5 TB being unusable.

raid 5 unused space bottleneck

In a RAID 6 array, the usable storage is calculated with (N – 2) x (Smallest disk dimension). Once once more, it’s essential to make use of same-size disks to make sure there’s no unusable area within the array.

raid 6 usable storage

Parity Calculation

In RAID 5, an XOR operation is carried out on every byte of knowledge to calculate parity info in RAID 5. For occasion, let’s say the primary byte of knowledge in a 4-disk array appears one thing like this:

A1 – 11010101
A2 – 10001100
A3 – 10101100

If we carry out an XOR operation on the primary two strips (A1 and A2) after which do the identical with the output and the third strip (A3), the output is the parity info (Ap). In this case, its worth is 11110101.

When any disk (for example, Disk 1) fails, right here’s what occurs. First, A2 XOR A3 offers us the output 00100000. When we use this output in an XOR operation with Ap, we get 11010101 because of this, which is the misplaced knowledge.


This is mainly how parity knowledge is calculated and used to recompute misplaced knowledge in RAID 5. 

RAID 6 is rather more complicated because it computes parity twice. Depending on the setup, that is applied in varied methods, reminiscent of twin verify knowledge computation (parity and Reed–Solomon), orthogonal twin parity verify knowledge, diagonal parity, and so on.

RAID Controller

RAID 5 may be applied by each {hardware} and software program means. The former clearly includes the usage of a devoted {hardware} RAID controller. As RAID 5 requires parity computation, that is the advisable route.

This is very essential in sure circumstances, like with a NAS, the place the processor isn’t highly effective sufficient to deal with the calculations with out creating a big bottleneck.


Although not ultimate for efficiency causes, RAID 5 may also be arrange utilizing software program options. For occasion, Windows permits you to pool your disks collectively utilizing the storage areas function. You may create a RAID 5 quantity through Disk Management.

RAID 6, however, requires a {hardware} RAID controller. This is as a result of the polynomial calculations carried out to compute the second parity layer are fairly processor intensive.

Are RAID 5 and RAID6 Similar?

It needs to be evident at this level that whereas RAID 5 and 6 have some key variations, they’re additionally comparable in some ways. For starters, in contrast to RAID 1, RAID 5 and 6 present fault tolerance by parity as a substitute of mirroring. 

Specifically, they use distributed parity, which is totally different from the devoted parity disks utilized by RAID 2, 3, and 4. With distributed parity, you don’t have to fret about bottlenecks as with a single parity disk.

Both RAID 5 and 6 have wonderful learn efficiency because of knowledge striping. But by the identical token, each of them additionally endure penalties on write efficiency, albeit to various levels.

What’s Good About RAID 5?

RAID 5 gives an excellent mixture of usable storage, knowledge safety, and efficiency. You may set it up with fewer disks, which makes it a budget-efficient possibility. 

If you wish to suppose by way of efficiency, RAID 5 is finest suited to workloads involving majorly learn operations reminiscent of electronic mail servers.

As for fault tolerance, we’ve already coated how RAID 5 has grown much less dependable over time. It’s nonetheless positive for small-sized arrays, however with bigger arrays, the place there’s a better probability of failed rebuilds, we wouldn’t suggest RAID 5.

When is RAID 6 Better?

RAID 6’s reliability does come at the price of write efficiency and usable storage. However, this slight disparity is undoubtedly value it when the info on the disks is essential.

RAID 6 isn’t the very best for smaller arrays (e.g., 4 disks), as a good portion of storage is misplaced to redundancy. If redundancy is required in small arrays, RAID 5 or one thing like RAID 10 could be higher.

Instead, RAID 6 is finest suited to bigger arrays the place there’s an opportunity of dropping rather more knowledge if the setup isn’t dependable.

Final Verdict – RAID 5 Vs RAID 6

RAID 5 isn’t utterly unreliable, and it’s nonetheless usable for smaller arrays. But with actually important knowledge, you’ll wish to prioritize safety over minor efficiency variations, and that’s the place RAID 6 takes the cake.

Regardless of which RAID degree you go for, although, it’s essential to grasp that RAID isn’t a backup. RAID’s redundancy solely protects in opposition to disk failure. Even a RAID 6 array can fail throughout rebuilds.

If the info on the disks is essential sufficient so that you can use RAID 6 or different ‘dependable’ variations, then you have to not take backups and patrol reads calmly, both. Finally, to recap, listed here are the important thing variations between RAID 5 vs RAID 6:

Parity Layers Parity knowledge is calculated as soon as. Parity knowledge is calculated twice.
Fault Tolerance Can tolerate one disk failure. Can tolerate two disk failures.
Write Performance Write efficiency suffers some penalty. Write efficiency suffers comparatively higher overhead.
Minimum Disks At least 3 disks are required. At least 4 disks are required.
Usable Storage Offers higher usable storage. Usable storage is relatively much less.
Parity Calculation Parity is calculated by a easy XOR operation. Parity is calculated utilizing XOR together with different complicated algorithms.
Implementation Can be applied utilizing {hardware} or software program options. Requires devoted {hardware} RAID controller.

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