A high availability, high reliability storage system that leverages rapid advances in commodity computing devices and the robust nature of internetwork technology such as the Internet. A system of parity distribution in accordance with the present invention allows for greater fault tolerance and levels of storage efficiency than possible with conventional RAID (levels
) paradigms. Data can be recovered or made available even in the case of loss of N, N+1, or more devices or storage elements over which stripes of the data set have been distributed or partitioned. The present invention provides a parity distribution that can be used to distribute data stored in a single storage device or across multiple connected or otherwise networked devices.