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SQL Server 7 includes several objects and counters for Performance Monitor that can be used to estimate the throughput of backup and recovery operations. Windows NT/2000 Performance Monitor can be used to monitor the progress of a backup or recovery operation. (For more information on using Performance Monitor, review 3.) The default Performance Monitor shortcut included in the SQL Server 7 program group provides a good set of counters for monitoring general database performance (see Figure 6-25). You will probably want to add a few additional counters to the server, as well. The most useful counters for measuring backup performance are the SQLServer:BackupDevice object and the Device Throughput Bytes/sec object.
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Figure 6-25.
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The information provided by Windows NT/2000 Performance Monitor is probably very helpful in isolating bottlenecks. We ve already mentioned that the most important step in increasing throughput of backups is to identify the real performance problem. It s possible that with current backup technologies, your disk subsystems may be slowing down the whole operation. If that s the case, your money might be better spent in upgrading your disk controllers or implementing RAID instead of upgrading the backup devices. When dealing with small databases, you will probably be satisfied by the performance of the default backup operations. However, when performing larger backups, you ll likely want to squeeze every possible bit of performance out of your system. Here are some tricks you can use to maximize performance: w Use parallel backup devices. One of the bottlenecks in most backup and recovery operations is the destination device. Reading and writing information to and from tape backups and disk devices is usually relatively slow compared to the processing power and memory reserves available in modern servers. A good way to increase performance is to use multiple tape devices in parallel. That is, you should back up data to two or more devices at the same time. You re likely to see the greatest performance gain when dealing with tape drives, as media access and throughput are slower with tape than with disk devices. Once your parallel devices are in place, you can measure your performance gains by using Windows NT Performance Monitor, as described earlier. Use an efficient data protection strategy. As we discussed earlier in this chapter, there are several different types of backup operations. By strategically using full, differential, and transaction logs backups, you can make sure that you re efficiently protecting information in accordance with your business requirements. If data only needs to be backed up daily, it might be counterproductive to overprotect information, due to performance hits. Similarly, investing in better backup hardware might make life easier on everyone from users to database administrators. Compress your backups. With the speed of modern CPUs, the performance tradeoff required to compress data is minimal, whereas the data volume saved can be significant. SQL Server does not perform any compression on database dumps. Since most databases contain mostly text information, these files generally compress very well. Compression ratios of 3:1 are not uncommon. If you have a lack of available space for performing backups or if you want to improve performance, consider using a compression utility to reduce data volumes before they re backed up. Alternatively, most current tape backup devices have the ability to perform compression on the fly that is, the data to be written is sent to the storage device that compresses the data, before it is written to the media.
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Upgrade your hardware. Diehard performance optimizers might consider this cheating, but I m willing to take that chance! If you have reached what you believe are the limits of your current hardware, it might be time to upgrade. Again, you ll need to determine where the bottlenecks are. Cost-effective upgrades such as faster SCSI controllers, additional network interface cards, and additional memory can make a world of difference. In general, purchasing and installing additional RAM can go a long way toward improving overall SQL Server performance. Some tape backup hardware manufacturers might make it easier to trade up to newer backup technologies by offering credits on old hardware. Do your homework and find out how to best stretch your investment dollars with strategic upgrades.
Using these techniques, you ll surely be able to squeeze a little more life out of your existing hardware, software, and network investment.
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