Standard RAID consists of levels from 0-5. Each level represents a different application of the technology. For example:
- Level 1 corresponds to mirroring. Mirroring uses n partitions that all store the same data.
- Level 5 corresponds to striping with parity. Striping is the arrangement of contiguous disk blocks across multiple drives instead of within the same drive.
The idea behind this arrangement is to increase the efficiency of disk access by allowing concurrent seeks on multiple devices. Parity is the calculation of an additional stripe from the normal data stripes, to be used to recover lost data in the event of a drive failure.
The following table compares and contrasts the various RAID levels.
| Level || Characteristics || Advantages || Disadvantages |
| Linear || Concatenates small partitions into a larger one || Allows two disks to be used linearly as one, with the capacity of subsequent disks simply added to the first disk || No redundancy; less reliable overall because if one partition fails, the larger one fails |
| RAID 0 || Striping || Performance benefits for reads and writes || No fault tolerance |
| RAID 1 || Mirroring || Efficient for reads because multiple reads can be done on multiple drives; complete fault tolerance || Diminished write performance, because of the need to write data more than once; high cost per megabyte of storage due to the duplication of all data |
| RAID 2 || not used |
| RAID 3 || not used |
| RAID 4 || Striping, parity, dedicated parity disk || Fault tolerance without the high cost of completely duplicating all data || Parity disk can become a performance bottleneck; for this reason it is almost never used over RAID 5 |
| RAID 5 || Striping, parity || Fault tolerance without the high cost of completely duplicating all data || |