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Automated backup sloooooowing things


wolfe
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I maintain a rather large db for my police department. We run 12 machines all with XP w/sp2. Our server is a desktop some guy put a mirror drive into, I don't know much about computer hardware so all I can tell you about it is that it has a large hard drive and 2 Ghz of ram and the processor is a 2.4 Ghz. I'm not sure what kind of hard drive it has, but it seems I read something a while back on the forums about having the right hard drive??? (I looked but couldn't find the post)

Our problem is that when FMServer 8 performs a scheduled backup, it slows the entire network down where users end up getting the dreded coffee cup icon. As I stated previously, this is a police database and we are open 24-7 so it's hard to pick a convinient time to do this. Oh, and all clients run FM Pro8 with updates!

My question is, does anyone have any advise on hardware (server end) which would help speed up or lessen the effect on clients during back up times?

Thanks!

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When FileMaker Server backs up a file, it suspends or pauses the file. User data and requests are not lost - just suspended until the file finishes the backup file.

That is why your users are getting the dreaded coffee cup. This cannot be avoided using automated backups.

The only way I can see to, at least, mitigate the slowdown would be to run a script in the file(s) that would just export just the data into a FMPRO file. You would still have to save copies of the original files to retain layouts, calculations, and scripts in the files any time changes were made.

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My question is, does anyone have any advise on hardware (server end) which would help speed up or lessen the effect on clients during back up times?

A couple ideas:

1. You might skip backing up static files, or low priority files during peak times; only backing up mission-critical files at those times. Backup the full set of files during off-peak times insead.

2. You didn't say how often you have your backups run, but you could lessen the frequency to reduce the interruption. Different people have different backup requirements, some backup once a day, others every hour. I backup four times a day.

3. Have the backup drive be a second local hard drive, but preferably not the same one as the data drive. Don't use a backup volume that's a network volume or a slow USB drive.

4. If your clients are on a slow WAN connection (slow DSL or something,) this might also affect performance of backups as the server and clients negotiate the pause.

You mentioned your mirrored hard drive. While mirroring adds redundancy should one of the pair fail, it does not by itself improve performance. For improving performance, the technique is the opposite, where drives are "striped" to work in concert to record the data. If you're interested in more details on this subject, I'd suggest reading up on "RAID" drives. There's a variety of ways to set them up, and though they tend to be expensive, they can add redundancy and speed which is especially beneficial to database servers. Although, I'm afraid I can't say if striping or using a RAID would reduce the coffee cups.

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When FileMaker Server backs up a file, it suspends or pauses the file. User data and requests are not lost - just suspended until the file finishes the backup file.

That was true for FileMaker Server 5.5 and earlier. FMS 7 and 8 start the backup without pausing the files. Only at the very end of the backup, for a very brief moment are the files paused. For the majority of the backup period the files are not paused anymore.

With that in mind, I'm sure the poor performance is entirely due to the machine configuration.

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