Knowledgebase: General
Caveats and Limits to the RBS software

By Rob Cosgrove
CEO, Remote Backup Systems

This article describes the reasons RBS software can appear to run slowly, or not at all, caused by issues unrelated to the software. If your software is running slowly, please read this article. It contains caveats about the proper use of our software as the phrase “proper use” is used in our Software License Agreement.

All software has its limits. Often, limits are imposed by the computers themselves, the speed or fragmentation of the hard drives, the speed of the network connection, other programs running at the same time, the number of files selected for backup, and more.The lower your bandwidth (endpoint or server) the slower files will transfer.

Most Internet connections have a high downlink speed, but a slow uplink speed. Cable companies and ISPs often sell Internet connections by telling you how fast their downlink speed is, often ignoring or failing to mention that the uplink speed is only a fraction of the faster downlink speed.

It takes 2.7 hours to transmit a single gigabyte over a 1.53mb connection (T1). Upload speeds for Internet connections commonly used by the clients of Remote Backup services are often as low as 128K ( 1/12 the speed of a T1). At 128K, it might take 32 hours to transmit one gigabyte.

RBS endpoint software (and ALL remote backup software) sends data over the slow uplink, while the RBS Server receives data on its high speed downlink. Data will be transmitted no faster than the slowest speed between the two computers, usually the endpoint's uplink speed.

Most Internet connections do not have the stable full-time bandwidth they are advertised to have. For example, cable modems share bandwidth with others in the neighborhood. So, when neighbors are downloading movies or music, listening to Internet radio, watching podcasts, or doing Remote Backups, the bandwidth in the entire neighborhood will suffer.

RBS has no control over the speed of the Internet. It simply takes as long as it takes to send a file, regardless the type of software doing the backups.

The more files you try to back up, the longer it will take. The larger the files, the more time it will take.

RBS endpoint software prepares files for backup before sending them. RBackup by RBS is the most secure online backup software available. RBackup takes great care to make sure that files are properly packaged and secured before sending them to the RBS Server. That’s why in the entire history of our company (founded in 1987) our software has never lost a file.

RBackup must extract changes from files, compress, and encrypt. It must verify the files and digitally sign them after encryption. It must account for possible bad hard drive sectors and incorrect directories. It must maintain its local data store for quick restores.

Because RBackup digitally signs its files (unlike our competitors) and verifies the signatures on transfer to the Server, RBackup handles a few large files faster than it does many small files.

No other software is as reliable or as secure as RBackup. It is true that some software that doesn’t have the security and reliability of RBackup may prepare files faster. However, we think you would rather have something as important as backups done right instead of quick.

Slow computers, low available RAM, and low available hard drive space can result in slow or missed backups.

RBackup was designed to run with slow computers, low ram, and low hard drive space. However, no software can do the impossible. For example, RBackup will not do a BitBackup backup on a large data set if the drive used for the local Data Store is extremely low on space. RBackup needs room for temporary files, and for the local Data Store. Turn off BitBackup if a computer is low on resources.

RBackup may run slowly, or not at all, if the computer has a low amount of available RAM and/or a small amount of unused hard drive space, or a seriously fragmented drive. It is unreasonable to ask RBackup or any other software to back up a hundreds of thousands of small files on a slow computer with limited RAM and critically low hard drive space. Limit the number of files you select for backup, and turn off BitBackup.

Don’t back up entire drives.

This might seem obvious to most people. However, RBS receives many tech support calls from people complaining that a backup takes “forever”, and after a few questions, we find out that they have selected the entire C drive for backup.

If you need to back up an entire drive, use RBackup's Full Image Backup function. Although it is still a bit slow, it is faster than backing up all of the individual files.

RBackup contains MANY advanced features to help you select only the files that really need to be backed up. Learn how to use them. Select only the directories containing files that need to be backed up (like My Documents). Use AutoSelect to select files from particular applications. Be reasonable with your file selections.

It takes a while to back up Exchange the right way.

Big Exchange databases, or those with lots of email accounts, may take a long time to prepare for backup. The more email accounts; the bigger the Exchange database; the more complicated the Exchange environment, the longer it will take to complete a backup.

Be aware that a huge Exchange database may take a few days to complete its first backup. Subsequent backups will be much faster. RBackup backs up and restores Exchange while it is in use. So there’s no need to shut down Exchange to back it up or to restore it.

Other software can complete an Exchange database faster than ours. However, they are not doing as thorough a job as we do, and do not save Exchange data in a format that can be easily and quickly restored.

There are many clients using RBackup to store millions of files, and massive Exchange databases with hundreds of mailboxes.

Interference from Other Programs

A running backup session can be slowed down or stopped completely by other programs. For example, if a computer is set to automatically install operating system updates, it may reboot itself automatically. This can interrupt a backup session.

Antivirus and anti-spyware software that updates itself automatically can stop a backup session, and keep it from running the next night, too. For example, if a new virus definition or a new Internet rule is applied through an automatic update, it might interpret RBackup’s Internet activity as spyware, and stop it, presenting a message to the user that he never sees. This can happen night after night if there’s nobody to view the message and allow RBackup to run. Of course RBS can tell you how to solve the problem.

Computers must be turned ON to be backed up.

This may seem obvious. However, RBS has had a number of bitter complaints about our software not working, which have been traced to the fact that the computer simply was not turned on at the time the backup was scheduled to run.

This is especially true of laptop computers, which can run out of batteries, or which the user may simply turn off, forgetting that a backup is scheduled to run. It can also be true of desktop computers and even servers if they shut down because of a glitch in electricity.


Please remember that backups are run at night when nobody is there to watch them. If, while evaluating RBackup, you sit for hours watching a big backup run, you might think there’s something wrong with the software. There isn’t. It’s just doing the job it was programmed to do.

There are MANY ways to optimize RBackup for specific platforms and applications. Please contact RBS for help.

While we will attempt to help you resolve issues unrelated to our software, Remote Backup Systems is not responsible for problems caused by external events, other software, hardware, or by bandwidth constraints. The caveats in this article define your rights under our Software License Agreement concerning the proper use of our software.

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

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