Speed Up First-time Avamar Backup by “Seeding” the Server

By May 16, 2013Avamar, Backup, How To
Avamar, Cloud Infrastructure, eSata card, Segate GoFlex, Iomega, NAS, Ethernet, Xcopy, Windows, Linux box, grid, Jon Austin,

avamar seeding blog header 1200Avamar is a great tool to backup remote office file servers to a private or hybrid cloud infrastructure. However, performing an initial backup can be a challenge if the server is more than a few GB and the connection to the remote office is less than 100Mb.

In this scenario, the recommended process is to “seed” the Avamar server with the data from the remote server. There are a number of devices that can be used to accomplish this: USB hard drives are the most often used; however, they can be painfully slow, as most modern servers only have USB 2.0 ports that can only transfer around 60MB/sec and are limited to 3-4TB in size. In order to copy 3TB to a USB 2.0 drive, it will typically take 12-16 hours. Not unbearable, but quite a while.

Another option would be to install a USB 3.0 adapter card or eSata card—but that requires shutting down the server and installing drivers, etc. An alternative that I have had a good deal of success with is using a portable NAS device like the Seagate GoFlex drives or, for larger systems, the Iomega/LenovoEMC StorCenter px4-300d. The px4-300d has an added feature that I will touch on later. These NAS devices leverage Gigabit Ethernet and can roughly double the transfer rate of USB 2.0.

portable nas storage devices

Moving the data to these “seeding” targets can be as simple as drag-and-drop or using a command line utility like Xcopy from Windows or Rsync from a Linux box once you plug in the USB device or mount a share from the NAS drives. When the data copy is complete, eject the USB drive or unmount the share, power down the unit, package the drive for shipping and send it back to the site where the Avamar grid lives.

At the target site attach the portable storage device to a client locally and configure a one-time backup of this data. With the Iomega device, it includes a pre-installed Avamar client that can be activated to the grid and backed up without having to go through an intermediary server.

Once you get this copy of the backup into the Avamar grid, activate and start the backup of the remote client. The client will hash it’s local data and compare to what is on the gridfinding that the bulk of the unique data is already populated – reducing the amount of data required to transfer to the data that has changed or added since the “seed”.

Photo credit: Macomb Paynes via Flickr