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The Case of the Dual Hard Drives

Monday, April 23rd, 2012 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management, Hardware & Peripherals

Bob from FL writes:

The PC I have now is 9 years old. I am getting a new one within the next few months. Are there any advantages or disadvantages to getting one with dual hard drives. Can there be more headaches by doing this?

Hello, Bob, and thanks for the question.

Actually, having dual hard drives can SAVE you a considerable amount of headaches. 

Most computers that I’ve seen over the last several years have the two drives set up in “RAID” configuration – or “redundant array of independent discs”.  That means that whatever you save to one drive automatically saves to the other.  That means NO MORE BACKUP!  Everything that you have is automatically backed up.  Of course, it only backs up your data, not stuff like your computer’s configuration or Windows save state, which Window’s built-in backup does. 

I would love to give you step by step instructions here for setting RAID up on your computer, but there are an amazing number of variables involved.  So I would say that if your computer isn’t already set up in RAID configuration (your seller should be able to tell you) then bring it to your friendly neighborhood computer repair guy or gal to do it for you.

If you choose not to set RAID up on your computer, then another use for dual hard drives is to use one to store your programs and one to store your documents.  This will make your programs run faster, to one degree or another, because your computer doesn’t have to look through so much code to find what it’s looking for when it’s executing a program.

So I guess that the short answer to your question is “Providing that your computer doesn’t suffer simultaneous catastrophic failure of both hard drives, then there are no headaches that I can think of to having dual drives.”

I hope that this helps.

~Randal Schaffer

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2 Responses to “The Case of the Dual Hard Drives”

  1. robertpri says:

    I would never use a second laptop hard drive as either a RAID or a second drive for some programs. Instead, make the second drive a fully bootable dynamic file by file copy of the first drive. Now, you have a full backup and using setup, can boot to the second drive. Almost zero fear of ever losing anything.

  2. Mark says:

    Sorry to have to disagree but if it is truly setup as a RAID array then yes everything including the OS and it configuration files and save state are saved. This is especially true since the only type of RAID array you can setup with only 2 drives that protects anything is a RAID 1 full mirror.

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