Knowledgebase: General
Backups take a long time

Question: I stopped a backup from a new customer after it had been running for 15 hours and had processed 137,000 files. Why did it take so long, and what can I do to speed it up?

Answer: RBS software is not simple file transfer software. It is highly secure, and it verifies and reverifies files before, during, and after transfer. All this work is necessary to make sure critical files are properly protected while in transit, and stored on the Server in exactly the same condition they were in when they left the Endpoint.

For example, you might calculate that a 100 megabyte file takes 3 minutes to transfer using simple file transfer software, or simply copying it across a local network. However, RBS doesn’t just send files. It extracts changes, compresses, encrypts, and verifies each file. Depending on the type of file and its size, this process can take longer than the time it takes to actually transmit the file.

Backup times might seem long if you’re watching the process. However, keep in mind that backups most often take place at night when nobody is using (or watching) the computer. So, the time required to do a proper backup isn’t usually an issue at all.

Further, the first backup is usually the longest - by far. Subsequent backups usually take much less time.

The bottom line is, it’s much better to do a backup correctly - secure and verified - than it is to do one fast.

Things that make backups take too long:

# Anti-Virus Software Some anti-virus software examines all files uploaded or downloaded. This can take a long time, and will slow down transfers at either the Client side or the Server side, or both. Try temporarily disabling your anti-virus software to see if that speeds things up.

# Internet Speed Of course if the Internet is slow, your backups will be slow. The total throughput is limited by the slowest speed between your Client and your Server. Typically download speeds are much higher than upload speeds. So, the Server’s download speed is typically several times faster than Client’s upload speed. For example, the backup from a Client with an upload speed of 256K to a Server with a download speed of 2.0 MBPS (2000K) will go at 256K, and NOT 2.0 MBPS. Remember that “average” inexpensive broadband connections have a high download speed and a slow upload speed.

# Improperly Configured Firewalls Firewalls are designed to stop traffic, and they do it very well. Make sure your firewall isn’t too strict.

# Too many files selected. Try using multiple Backup Sets with smaller numbers of files in each. Try being more selective in the files you back up. NEVER back up entire hard drive. No technology on this planet can back up an unreasonable number of files over the Internet.

# Files are too big. It takes 2.77 hours to transmit a single gigabyte (1000 Megabytes) over a fast T1 Internet connection running at 1.53 MBPS. It takes much longer with slower Internet connections. That’s just how long it takes, and nothing can speed it up. Some files are just not good candidates for Remote Backup simply because they are too big.

# The computer running the RBS Client doesn’t have enough resources. Before RBS can transmit a file to the Server, it has to compress and encrypt that file. This process requires CPU time, disk space, RAM, and swap file space - the more, the faster this process will go. If you are trying to back up a 10 gigabyte file from a Pentium 2 computer with 32 meg of RAM and a slow hard drive, it will take a long time.

# Not enough bandwidth. The typical DSL Internet connection is 256K upstream. At that speed it takes over 16 hours to transmit a single gigabyte. Reduce the size of the backup or increase the Internet bandwidth. If you think your backup is too slow, verify the UPSTREAM speed from the Client. There’s where the bottleneck usually is. Typical Internet connections have a much lower UPLINK (upload) speed than their DOWNLINK (download) speed. ISPs often advertise the DOWNLINK speed and downplay the slower uplink speed. You can test your uplink speed at

# FULL backup mode is improperly used. It isn’t necessary to back up some files. Don’t back up operating system files, swap files, or anything else that you can either rebuild or reload from a distribution CD. Don’t back up an entire hard drive by selecting the root of the drive.

See also: Why does it take so long to do a backup?


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