A JBOD vs RAID Comparison

Image of a lit storage building.
Need large storage volumes? Choose JBOD or RAID!

Just a bunch of disks (JBOD) has received a lot of attention recently. That’s because the redundant array of inexpensive disks (RAID) has smaller storage and more drive wastage. In many cases, this has been attributed to the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) software. This is because you need large quantities of performant and costly storage volumes to handle AI computation.  

In this article, we’ll take a look at both JBOD and RAID to see what are the benefits and drawbacks of each storage virtualization technology. First, let’s delve into what JBOD is!  

What Is JBOD

JBOD is a new way of virtualizing multiple physical drives into one volume. To do this efficiently, only one storage controller governs data entry on each disk. When one disk fills, the storage controller starts on the next disk, and so on.    

Illustration of multiple disks and data entry in a JBOD configuration.
JBOD is just a load of disks!

How Do You Use JBOD

JBOD is useful in all sectors. Yet, it originated in research departments where AI needed both fast and large storage volumes for big data handling. Files can become huge, so it’s potentially  better to deal with them as one file, instead of multiple smaller files. 

In this use case, you’re not interested in keeping the data. Rather, you want the speed of hot swapping it between processors and storage. If a disk fails, then you can replace it and add the source data back into the system. In this environment, you’ll use JBOD as it doesn’t duplicate storage controllers. That means you can use fast and currently expensive M.2 storage more effectively. 

Key Features of JBOD

BenefitsDrawbacks
Lightweight because it only has one storage controllerIrreplaceable drives, rebuilds arrays 
Doesn’t duplicate data in the arrayImpossible parity checks because data isn’t duplicated across drives
Compatible with software-based storage optimization tools
Although it has disadvantages, JBOD is still a good choice.

Now that you’ve seen JBOD in detail, let’s dive into RAID configurations.

What Is RAID

RAID has been around for decades and is another virtualization process you can use to join disks to make larger arrays. RAID has many different features that you can exploit thanks to using multiple disk controllers. This includes setting up the array to still function after a disk failure by partially duplicating data. 

In this article, we’ll focus on the RAID 0 configuration, where you just add disks to create a larger volume. This is so we can make a valid comparison between both technologies. 

Photograph of a SATA RAID controller card.
SATA RAID controller card.

How Do You Use RAID

As the name suggests, RAID is useful to set up an array that offers a redundant configuration. This makes RAID useful for backup and NAS storage. It’s often used with relatively low cost storage hardware. That’s because you need to cater for duplicate data to make the array offer redundancy. Consequently,  you’re unlikely to use it in production environments and may opt for a fail-over backup system. The more redundancy you set within the array, the more robust it is against hardware failure. This is still cheaper for you to set up than creating a full mirror of the array to back it up. 

Key Features of RAID

BenefitsDrawbacks
Depending on configuration used, you can rebuild the RAID array after hardware failureDuplicates data or storage controller and reduces drive usage
Multiple storage controllers improve data entry and overall array query rates
RAID certainly has more benefits than drawbacks!

Now you’ve seen what RAID offers you, let’s take a look at which configuration is right for you.

Which Configuration Is Right for Me?

If you take the AI example above, you’ll likely use both storage virtualization technologies

  • Store data you want to keep safe in a RAID configuration that allows you to rebuild the array after a hardware failure
  • Opt for less duplication when your data is being processed. JBOD also makes your AI more efficient at handling data. 
  • Make your RAID  use older hard drive technology as it will less likely impact the system’s overall performance. That’ll also allow you to save money.

Final Thoughts

Both technologies have their use cases, and you’ll likely see both in the wild. In the case of JBOD and RAID, make sure you know how your backup strategy works with these. To this end, remember that JBOD arrays will be unrecoverable if one disk fails. If you’re using RAID, check to ensure your configuration supports rebuilding the array because some don’t. 

Have more questions about JBOD and RAID? Check out the FAQ and Resources below!

FAQs

What’s just a bunch of disks?

Just a bunch of disks (JBOD) is a virtualized volume created by adding disks to an array with one storage controller. This allows you to use more of the hardware than a RAID configuration that uses multiple storage controllers. That said, if a hard disk fails, the whole volume also does. To that end, you can’t rebuild a JBOD array.

What are the benefits of using JBOD?

Just a bunch of disks (JBOD) is a lightweight virtualization tool that enables you to use more of each physical drive. JBOD is useful when your storage costs are high and you don’t need redundancy. To this end, you may decide to use both configurations together for the best performance of your overall system.

What are the benefits of RAID 0?

A RAID 0 array enables storage controllers to store data across drives. This means the storage process is fast as data can be handled independently across drives. That said, RAID 0 doesn’t use mirroring or parity checking. In general, the hardware acts like one contiguous volume.   

When is using JBOD a good idea?

JBOD works well for data operations on big data. Unlike RAID, data duplication doesn’t impact the operation speed. That said, it’s useful to use a RAID configuration for backing up and long-term storage from a system using just a bunch of disks. 

When is using RAID a good idea?

RAID 0 is useful when you want a faster data entry in your array. This is because RAID 0 uses multiple controllers. To this end, it’s highly useful when the price of storage devices isn’t as critical as performance.  

Resources

TechGenix: RAID Levels Explained Article

Discover how you can use RAID in different forms across your system.  

TechGenix: Hardware Vs. Software RAID Article

Learn the difference between hardware and software-based RAID.

TechGenix: Storage Space and Hardware RAID Article

Get up to speed on storage constraints in hardware RAID configurations.

TechGenix: Just a Bunch of Disks and  MS Exchange Article

Discover how you can use JBOD in an MS Exchange environment.

TechGenix: Microsoft 365 Storage Article

Learn about Microsoft 365 storage solutions.

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