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A disk array is a data storage system that contains multiple disk drives and a cache memory. It efficiently distributes data across multiple drives and enables fault tolerance through redundant array of independent disks (RAID). Some disk arrays also use virtualization, which provides additional functionality by optimizing storage use and providing greater flexibility for users managing stored data.
A typical disk array includes cache memory, special controllers, disk enclosures and a power supply. These components are often hot-swappable, which means they can be disconnected and reconnected without shutting the system down. Disk arrays provide many advantages in data availability, resiliency through redundant components and ease of maintenance.
Categories of disk arrays include:
An NAS system is a network of appliances that contains several hard drives arranged into RAID arrays. It relieves the file-serving function of file servers, providing both storage and a file system. SAN only provides block-base storage, leaving the file system to network client machines. However, the two may be combined into an SAN/NAS hybrid, offering both protocols for block-base storage and file storage on the same system.