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Time Machine slowing down end users' workstations

Posted on 2012-08-26
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Last Modified: 2012-09-18
Hey all,

Have a case where all users are backing up to a central Time Machine server. Now when the backup takes place, the users computers all slow down in performance - so much they have to pause the backup to operate their computers again.

Now, I have verified the disk is fine that they are backing up to. The network is running at 1gbps, so I can confirm that is ok as well by moving data and reaching these speeds.

I looked at suggestions of disabling Spotlight index on the backup volume, but I haven't seen any improvement here.

Does anyone have any suggestions/fixes to help alleviate the Time Machine slow downs?

Thanks!
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Question by:itGenius
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by:AliQahtani
ID: 38335476
what do you mean by all users are backing up to a central Time Machine server?

the user backing up their data or setting the time of the machine to time machine server?
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by:itGenius
ID: 38335506
Sorry, backing up their data. Should have been more specific.
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by:Xaelian
ID: 38335755
This is common for Time machine under Tiger (also under the rest of the MAC OS X OS'es).

I've found a great article about the things you can do to resolve this.

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13727_7-20116246-263/tackling-time-machine-slowdowns-in-os-x/
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by:AliQahtani
ID: 38336069
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et01267 earned 2000 total points
ID: 38336232
Those links don't seem to address what I consider the likely culprit:  you are backing up over the network.

What sort of system is acting as your Time Machine server?  Is it a Mac or a NAS?   Some NAS devices may need their AppleTalk / AFS stacks to be updated to work well.

Is the server configured with a RAID ?  You could be having contention for writing to the disks: the network speed plus multiple clients could be overwhelming your server.

What version of MacOS are the clients running?  Tiger (10.4) is pretty slow for TM as noted above?  With Lion things seem to be acceptable.

What volume of data are they typically backing up?  If people are using MS Outlook (or Thunderbird or Postbox) for email and calendar, this can cause a problem for backups because all the data is stored in a giant monolithic file that changes with every email activity (and thus needs to be backed up.  The built-in Mail.app stores email in individual files which makes backup much more efficient.

Are all the clients connected via ethernet, or are some (or all) on WiFi?  Network throughput could be a problem (despite your gig network).

You could try disabling Spotlight indexing of the TM backups on your clients if you see that the clients seem to be spending most of their time in "indexing backup" mode.   You would have to do this on each client.
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by:strung
ID: 38336261
I agree with ET. The network speed makes a huge difference. For instance, in my home, our time capsule is in the basement. I see no backup slowdowns backing up over wifi from the basement or first floor, but backups cause a huge slowdown if I am on the second floor.

One other possibility for a slowdowns  might be antivirus software.
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by:valmatic
ID: 38337991
The problem is also that time machine is backing up way to much. Good for very sensitive data, bad if you just want a normal backup every so often. I have a usb drive direct to the pc and on a older mac like 4 years old yes it slows it down. On one that is from earlier this year it is ok. This free tool lets you customize when you want time machine to run. If you do not want to customize the times, maybe you should exclude items in the time machine preferences that you do not want backed up.
http://timesoftware.free.fr/timemachineeditor/
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by:itGenius
ID: 38338991
Well, I am confident it's not the network. Every user is running on ethernet with the desired throughput...

Yes, we are running a XServe with Raid, running Snow Leopard. I'll try those articles, see how it goes.  And also, they are all using the default Mail.app, so I can rule those other email client backups out of the equation.

Thanks for your help all, will post back with any updates.
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by:strung
ID: 38339000
Try temporarily turning of your antivirus to see if it makes a difference.
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by:mtsdemo
ID: 38348255
Time Machine is terrible.

Looks cool..but its terrible.


I highly recommend you look at CrashPlan.

http://www.crashplan.com
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Author Closing Comment

by:itGenius
ID: 38412235
Good old spotlight!
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