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mdadm is a tool to manage software RAID on linux. It allows you to

  • create a (new) software raid array. Think of two USB hard drives that you just bought and that you want to use in a RAID 1 configuration.
  • assemble an (existing) array. Think of two USB hard drives that you have in your shelve and that you have already made to a RAID array using the create command. When you re-attach them to your computer, you need to tell the computer how the disks belong together (RAID 0 or RAID 1 for example). That is what the assemble command is for.

Examine Existing Arrays

List the "/proc/mdstat" file to see the capabilities of the kernel, and the existing arrays. If the file does not exist, your kernel does not have md support, and RAID cannot be used. The Personalities it lists are the kinds of RAID that are supported. The rest of the output is RAID devices and RAID arrays that are present.

 # cat /proc/mdstat

Create an array

To create a RAID-0 array at /dev/md0 consisting of /dev/sda1 and /dev/sdb1:

 # mdadm --create --verbose /dev/md0 --level=0 --raid-devices=2 /dev/sda1 /dev/sdb1
 mdadm: chunk size defaults to 64K
 mdadm: array /dev/md0 started.

The /etc/mdadm.conf file will be maintained by the the kernel's autodetecting facility.

It is possible to combine software raid and Logical Volume Manager for maximum flexibility and reliability.

Assemble an array

Here we have a RAID array out of one disk. The configuration is stored in


DEVICE /dev/disk/by-id/scsi-360a98000486e5337524a4f6a4e43542d-part2
ARRAY /dev/md0 level=raid0 num-devices=1 UUID=357d721b:86058e8c:8d746cf9:a620ae3c

Use this config file in conjunction with mdadm's assemble command:

mdadm --assemble --config /tmp/mdadm.conf /dev/md0

Delete an array

To delete an array, stop it using the -S command like this:

mdadm -S /dev/md0

Then remove all disks from the array like this

mdadm -r /dev/sda
mdadm -r /dev/sdb

Edit /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf if it exists.

That's all, now you can re-partition or re-format your disks.

See also