Diskeeper cuts backup time for network at Sandia labs

When Bob Foster wanted to cut his backup time for a 30G RAID data set, he
used Diskeeper for Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0.


The disk defragmenter package from Executive Software Inc. of Glendale, Calif.,
shortened backup time for a Digital Equipment Corp. 2100 server with a 190-MHz Alpha
processor and 128M of RAM. It condensed the stored files that had become scattered across
disks.


Disk fragmentation, besides slowing RAID backup, also can cause system crashes and hurt
overall performance.


“We do a full backup every night,” said Foster, a senior technical staff
member at the Energy Department’s Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.
“We try to squeeze as much as we can” out of servers.


Backup now takes four hours on a 30G digital linear tape drive instead of overnight.
“We didn’t measure with a stopwatch, but it was a noticeable change in
performance,” he said.


The Sandia network has about 100 computers, including 60 data-acquisition and
process-control systems, Foster said.


He liked Diskeeper so much that he bought a 50-seat license for the labs’ desktop
PCs that run Windows NT Workstation 4.0. The site license cost $22 per seat through an
open-market contract with a Phoenix company that no longer sells computer products, Foster
said.


Foster installs Diskeeper on an NT 4.0 system in about a minute, he said. The user does
not need to reboot after installation and can run Diskeeper manually or set it to
defragment automatically at intervals.


Diskeeper runs continuously on the Digital server but occasionally lags behind demand
because the server handles as many as 60 system connections at once, Foster said. He shuts
Diskeeper down during the nightly backups, although it’s unnecessary to do so.


Foster can monitor the server’s performance while his screensaver runs and also
view Diskeeper’s performance, he said. Foster said he will keep using Diskeeper after
he installs a dual 300-MHz Pentium II server to replace the Digital Alpha server. 

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