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Drive Setup & Backup Optimization For Optimal Backup Speed?


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I'm in the process of upgrading my backup system. The current system is running Retrospect 6.1.230 under OS X Server 10.5.8 on a G5 Mac Pro (12GB RAM), backing up 35+ Macs, 3 Xserves, and a few Windows machines to an LTO-4 tape drive (via Ultra 320 SCSI). The client machines are all backed up (nightly) over a very efficient gigabit network (with the Retrospect Server hitting each client machine and writing to tape).


This system has been in place for close to 7 years now (the only change was an upgrade from AIT-2 Turbo media for backups to LTO-4 backup media) and Retrospect 6 is no longer cutting it — so, I am in the process of migrating the current system to a more up-to-date system. The new system will be running Retrospect 9 under OS X Server 10.7 on an Intel Mac Pro (2 x 2.66 Ghz Dual-Core Intel Xeon, 8GB RAM), continuing to back up to an LTO-4 tape drive via SCSI.


I'm looking for some advice on how to improve the speed of my backups/optimal use of my tape drive.


The first area I'm looking for advice on is the best setup for my drives. Currently, I have Retrospect running on a single 1TB. In the documentation for my LTO-4 drive it states the following to optimize performance:


Disk subsystem

A single spindle disk will not be able to deliver good data throughput for an LTO tape drive at any compression ratio. To maximize the capability of these tape drives, utilize aggregated disk sources (RAID) with multiple disk spindles.


I'm familiar with various RAID setups, but I mainly deal with RAID setups for redundancy, not speed. I'm wondering what people would suggest in terms of the disk/RAID setup to optimize performance? Please keep in mind that I have 4-bays available to me in the Mac Pro (with at least one required for the OS drive).


The next point made in the LTO-4 drive documentation states:


System architecture

Be aware of the architecture of your data protection environment; multiple clients backed up over a network may mean you are unable to take advantage of the LTO tape drive because the Ethernet infrastructure connecting such systems may limit performance. Some enterprise class backup applications can be made to interleave data from multiple sources, such as clients or disks, to keep the tape drive working at optimum performance.


I have to admit, I'm unsure of exactly what the above is saying. Does this relate to a Retrospect Server setup in any way?


Any advice anyone has one the above (or any other advice, for that matter, on the upgrading of my backup system) would be much appreciated!




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Guest Steve Maser

The only advice I'd give would be to make sure your SCSI card is supported by 10.7 While I haven't used a SCSI card in years, it was always in many threads in the old forums about problems with outdated SCSI drivers being a bottleneck/problem.


I can't speak to tape performance/RAID volumes, either, unfortunately...


- Steve

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