Recycling directories and backup performance. Was: Re: rsync --link-dest won't link even if existing file is out of date (fwd)

Robert Bell Robert.Bell at
Wed Apr 15 20:57:23 MDT 2015

rsync folks,

Henri Shustak <henri.shustak at> wrote:
> LBackup always starts a new backup snapshot with an empty directory. I
> have been looking at extending --link-dest options to scan beyond just
> the previous successful backup to (failed backups / older backups).
> However, there are all kinds of edge cases which are worth considering
> with such a changes. At present LBackup is focused on reliability as
> such, this R&D is quite slow given limited resources. The current
> version of LBackup offers IMHO reliable backups of user data and the
> scripting sub-system offers a high degree of flxibility.
We recycle directories in our backup scheme, and on tests it is 3
to 6 times faster than creating a new directory tree and then deleting
an old one.  Your timing will be different - the speed depends on the relative
numbers of files and directories I'd imagine.

Half our recycled directories are 5 to 6 days old, and our churn rate
is typically only 0.5% of files and 1% of data each day. So, the
recycled directory is usually about 95% right.

Our backup procudures have provision for looking back at previous
directories, but there is not much to be gained with recycled
directories.  Without recycling, and after a failure, the latest
available backup may not have much in it, and won't be a good place to
link-dest from - you need to go further back, as Henry is considering.

> Yes, every time you start a backup snapshot, a directory is
> re-populated from scratch and this takes time with LBackup. However,
> if you are seeking reliability then you may wish to check out the
> following URL :

We rarely have a failure with our backups.   If we do, our procedure
just re-labels the unfinished directory, and re-syncs as normal on the
next attempt.

And, in another post, Henri Shustak <henri.shustak at> gave
good advice on splitting up backups, etc to get performance, for someone
whose original post I didn't find.

> Ill take a look but I imagine I cant backup the 80 Million files I
> need to in under the 5 hours i have for nightly maintenance/backups.
> Currently it's possible by recycling directories...

Here are some performance figures from our backup yesterday.  (We have
multiple streams to several filesystems).

The backups completed in 41 minutes.
They transferred:
       80533 files out of      18127734 files available (0.4%)
57871616693 bytes out of 6827716377557 bytes available (0.8%)
  - so, with this low churn rate, we could backup 80 million files in
    about 3 hours.

Our backup target filesystems include SSD and are managed by SGI's DMF.

Hope this helps.


Dr Robert C. Bell
HPC National Partnerships | Scientific Computing
Information Management and Technology
T +61 3 9669 8102 Alt +61 3 8601 3810 Mob +61 428 108 333
Robert.Bell at<mailto:Robert.Bell at> | |
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