It’s not the kind of raid where the police come in to break up some illegal activity. In computer use, it’s written in capital letters, and RAID refers to “Redundant Array of Independent Disks” (originally “Inexpensive Disks”). You see the acronym often in ads for new drives and computers. It’s a way of linking hard disk drives together that is important for businesses and anyone else concerned about saving their data.

There are 10 levels of RAID use, but only levels zero, one and five are commonly used. At level zero, the drives linked together operate simply as individual drives. Level one is the most important for many users because it creates a mirror image of the contents of one drive onto another drive. That means that if one of the disk drives should fail, the other contains the same information. (It is highly unlikely that both drives would fail at the same time.) And finally, level five duplicates your data over several drives and cross checks the pieces to make sure they all match.

Hardware and software have to be RAID compatible but this is becoming fairly common. The MyBook drive we plugged in has software that lets you choose whether to run it as RAID level zero or one. At level zero, it acts as just a big two-terabyte drive. At level one, the storage is split in half and one half mirrors the contents of the other.

The MyBook was our second RAID drive to come in recently, by the way. The first one was from CRU-Dataport, a company that makes what are called cartridge drives. These have a docking bay and you can pull a drive out and take it over to any other computer that has the same kind of docking bay and plug it in. This can be pretty handy sometimes, but unfortunately the drive rattled when we took it out of the box. Our advice: don’t use disk drives that have pieces rattling around inside.

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