First, we have to explain what RAID (redundant array of independent disks) does. A RAID is a way of storing data across multiple drives (SSDs). This is done to protect the data in the case of a drive(s) failure. By using multiple disks, you increase the mean time between failures and back up redundancy by mirroring identical data onto more than one drive. Another method is striping data, which helps spread the data over multiple disk drives.
Hardware RAID vs Software RAID
Hardware RAID is a type of RAID managed by a RAID controller independent from the operating system. The RAID controller is able to manage disks independently from the computer without using processing power. This allows for faster data access and easier replacement of downed disks by replacing the device.
Software RAID is a type of RAID managed by software in the operating system. The disk controller software is embedded in the computer system that is compatible with the operating system. The disks are managed as part of the associated computer and may also be used by multiple devices while being applied in one operating system. Software RAID removes the need for a RAID controller so generally they are cheaper than hardware RAID systems.
Should you use hardware RAID or software RAID?
Hardware RAID is better able to handle high performance situations with flexibility, while software RAID has to share the operating system processing, limiting its performance. Based on the controller software or drives, the software RAID can have access speeds faster than the hardware RAID, while hardware RAID speeds are dependent on the controller and types of drives. Generally, hardware RAID costs more than software RAID, but it is able to provide better performance without OS limitations. Software RAID on the other hand provides more flexibility in its usage and the ability to reconfigure arrays without a hardware RAID controller.