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I've got a tiny server in my house which I use for file server and hosting test web sites for my clients, among other things. It uses backuppc for backups. The machine is a MSI Cubi N, backing up to a USB3 external hard drive.

Some time ago backups stopped, and I realized it was due to timing isues: I start/stop backuppc at certain times so I can stop the file server (seafile) and make a correct backup.

The backup speed dropped dramatically. Look at the difference between 926 and 938 (21.19 Mb/s vs 8.16 Mb/s, and dropping):

          Totals                                   Existing Files         New Files
Backup#  Type     #Files     Size/MB    MB/sec    #Files    Size/MB     #Files  Size/MB 
-----------------------------------------------   -------------------   ----------------
921      full     150677    116423.3    14.47     148314    116345.7    3183       77.8
926      full      86535    106951.6    21.19      78508    106635.9    28944     319.2
938      full    1071385    144205.9     8.16    1063546    144084.1    9680      173.4
945      full    1245914    158024.8     6.57    1080617    152874.0    168331   5201.9
946      incr        189        24.4     0.03        135         1.0    169        23.3

No changes were made on the server, neither software or hardware.

I'm a software engineer, not an administrator, and I don't know what to look at. The hdd seems to work well, I mirrored it yesterday to another one and the speed was quite decent. The backups are not compressed, and the server has 4Gb of ram and practically nothing running on it (it has 3Gb free just now)

This is the status of the server just before shutting down backuppc, I can't see anything strange here:

top - 06:29:06 up 2 days,  9:53,  0 users,  load average: 2,55, 1,96, 1,66
Tareas: 159 total,   1 ejecutar,  158 hibernar,    0 detener,    0 zombie
%Cpu(s):  1,7 usuario,  0,5 sist,  0,0 adecuado, 92,7 inact,  5,0 en espera,  0,
KiB Mem :  3897616 total,   108876 free,   387920 used,  3400820 buff/cache
KiB Swap:  2877436 total,  2286016 free,   591420 used.  3146140 avail Mem 

  PID USUARIO   PR  NI    VIRT    RES    SHR S  %CPU %MEM     HORA+ ORDEN
  738 root      20   0   44424   3840   3252 R   5,9  0,1   0:00.03 top
30375 root      20   0  137140  63996   1544 D   5,9  1,6  30:49.27 rsync
    1 root      20   0   37988   5200   3344 S   0,0  0,1   0:08.78 systemd
    2 root      20   0       0      0      0 S   0,0  0,0   0:00.09 kthreadd
    3 root      20   0       0      0      0 S   0,0  0,0   0:02.55 ksoftirqd/0
    5 root       0 -20       0      0      0 S   0,0  0,0   0:00.00 kworker/0:+
    7 root      20   0       0      0      0 S   0,0  0,0   2:16.81 rcu_sched
    8 root      20   0       0      0      0 S   0,0  0,0   0:00.00 rcu_bh
    9 root      rt   0       0      0      0 S   0,0  0,0   0:00.15 migration/0
...

¿Could you please give me some clues to see what happened and how to increase performance?

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This is mostly anecdotal, but I ran a BackupPC server for years a few years back and the backup jobs very, very gradually took longer each time. I suspect the way BackupPC is designed, this is a natural consequence of a growing backup pool.

BackupPC development seems to still be active however, so you might benefit from trying the latest version out to see if they've made some performance improvements.

  • What are you using now for backups? – Alvaro Maceda Jun 12 '17 at 5:29
  • I no longer manage the large estate as I did before, but now I just use a mix of Borg Backup, duplicity and rclone depending on my needs. If I needed to look after a large collection of different backups, I'd probably start looking at UrBackup and the new BackupPC version as two competent open source offerings to begin with. – Ricky Jun 12 '17 at 5:38

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