6 Things You Didn’t Know Could be Slowing Down Your Data Backups

Speed mismatch

If your system is feeding data faster or slower than your backup system can handle it, your backup performance will suffer. Slower speed means you’re not getting maximum throughput. Trying to feed data too fast results in blocks being resent.

Incorrect parameters

Incorrect parameters for the storage and backup systems will significantly slow your backups. The classic one is not having enough cache, but there are a number of other potential problems as well, such as incorrect host bus adapter (HBA) settings, the wrong SCSI settings, or poor choice of block sizes or page file parameters. Check the documentation (including any updates on manufacturer’s Web site) to make sure you have everything set correctly.

Inappropriate technology

All backup technologies have their niches and trying to use one outside its niche increases the chances for failure. The most common cause of this problem is pushing a technology beyond its performance limits. This is because every technology, from tape technologies, through network technologies, and the associated software have a basic range (scale) where they work best. When you move outside that scale, the technology does anything from work less well to fail completely.

Fragmented disks

Badly fragmented disks will slow reads and writes and one of the places this shows up is on backup. In fact, it’s likely to show up first on backup because of the large number of disk operations concentrated in a backup.

Network problems

If you’re backing up over a network, network performance has a critical impact on backups. Make sure you’ve got enough bandwidth to handle both the backups and any other traffic on the network at the same time. A failing network component or a bad connection will also slow the backup. These and other network problems will usually show up in the network logs. If you’re backing up over a network, those logs are one of the first places to look for clues to poor performance, especially if the problem is intermittent or comes on suddenly.

Backing up the wrong stuff

Use data deduplication on you your files before backing up. As much as 90% of the stuff on some systems doesn’t need to be backed up, especially not if you’ve got a feature like System Restore on Windows systems to handle immediate recovery of lost files and folders. If you’re backing up things like .tmp files and browser caches, you’re wasting backup time. Modern backup software typically lets you apply elaborate filters to determine what gets backed up and what’s ignored.