What are disk arrays and storage arrays? Easy-to-understand explanation of basic data management concepts

Explanation of IT Terms

What are Disk Arrays and Storage Arrays?

Disk arrays and storage arrays are essential components in data management systems. They provide a way to organize and store large amounts of data efficiently. In this blog post, we will explore these concepts and provide an easy-to-understand explanation of how they work.

Understanding Disk Arrays

A disk array, also known as a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks), is a system that combines multiple physical hard drives into a single logical unit. These drives work together to increase storage capacity, improve data performance, and provide redundancy. Disk arrays offer different levels of RAID configurations, such as RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10, each with its own advantages and use cases.

RAID 0 is a striped configuration that simply combines multiple drives together to create a larger storage space. However, it does not provide any redundancy, so if one drive fails, it can lead to data loss. RAID 1, on the other hand, is a mirrored configuration where data is duplicated across multiple drives. This ensures redundancy and data protection, but at the cost of reduced storage capacity.

RAID 5 combines striping and parity data across multiple drives. This configuration provides a good balance between performance, capacity, and redundancy. If one drive fails, the data can still be reconstructed from the parity information. RAID 10 combines both striping and mirroring. It offers the benefits of both RAID 0 and RAID 1, providing both speed and redundancy.

Introduction to Storage Arrays

A storage array, also referred to as a SAN (Storage Area Network) or NAS (Network Attached Storage), is a centralized storage solution connected to multiple servers over a network. It allows multiple servers to share and access the same data simultaneously.

Storage arrays store data in blocks that can be accessed and manipulated by the connected servers. They often include features such as snapshotting, deduplication, data replication, and data tiering, which enhance data management and enable efficient data backup and recovery.

SANs are typically used in enterprise environments, offering high-performance, low-latency storage. They use Fibre Channel or iSCSI protocols to connect servers and storage arrays. NAS, on the other hand, is more commonly used in smaller setups and utilizes Ethernet connections and protocols, such as NFS or SMB, for file-based storage access.


Disk arrays and storage arrays play vital roles in modern data management. Disk arrays improve performance, capacity, and data redundancy, while storage arrays provide centralized, shared storage for multiple servers. Understanding these concepts is crucial for successfully implementing and managing data-intensive applications. Whether you’re a system administrator or a data enthusiast, having a solid grasp of disk arrays and storage arrays will undoubtedly benefit you in navigating the complex world of data management.

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