Raid Striping Vs. Spanning

By Shaun Helsom

When several hard drives are connected to a single computer, a RAID system can be used to manage how data is stored. Two popular methods are striping and spanning (informally known as JBOD, or "Just a Bunch of Discs"). Each method has its own advantages that can be helpful to different users.

Drive Striping

Drive striping refers to when individual files are stored across multiple drives. Since these multiple drives are reading or writing a single file, disc speeds are increased exponentially with each drive that is added. The work of a single drive is being distributed over the attached RAID drives. Although this method is faster, it is also riskier. If a drive fails, all data is lost since a section of every file would be missing or corrupted.

Drive Spanning

Drive spanning allows multiple hard drives to behave as a single large drive. When the first drive becomes full, it simply overflows into the next. This method is useful because additional drives can be added easily without having to make major system modifications. Additionally, if a drive experiences a failure only a portion of the system's data is lost.


Striping is beneficial to users who require fast read/write speeds or who are dealing with large volumes of data. Extremely large files can be opened very quickly when they are being read from three places at once. This method is commonly used in video editing studios.Spanning is great for everyday users who have upgraded their system's data storage capacity. It can be difficult to manage applications over multiple drives. Combining them into a single drives allows for seamless operation between storage devices and the option for easy upgrades in the future.