The Right Tools for the Job

The Right Tools for the Job

December 19

It’s important when setting out to accomplish any task that you have the right tools available.  This includes testing your backup and recovery tools so you can be sure you’re prepared in the event of a disaster.  This article talks about the importance of loading the correct USB 3.0 drivers when using the ShadowProtect Recovery Environment (RE) to restore from a USB 3.0 storage device.  Here is my experience.

I began my testing with a Western DigitalMy Passport” USB 3.0 drive and a 450G data partition on my test PC.  My data partition only had about 80G of data so most of the drive volume was free space.  The initial backup to my USB 3.0 drive took 15 mins 48 seconds with throughput averaging around 80 MB/s and resulting in a full backup image around 50G in size (compressed to roughly 61% of the original size).  I should note that I also backed up my Windows boot volume (Windows 7 Professional) which compressed down to roughly 36% of the original size so compression will vary on the type of data.

Next I tested a restore running the ShadowProtect 5 wizard from inside my Windows 7 environment.  I was just recovering my data volume on a separate partition and I wanted to establish a control for my test.  The recovery from within Windows took 13 mins 40 seconds and had throughput around 60 MB/s.

The recovery time of the restore from within Windows was pretty good.  Next I performed a restore of the same volume using the ShadowProtect RE.  For this test I used the default drivers built into the ShadowProtect RE and the restore was much slower, taking 40 mins 22 seconds with throughput only around 20 MB/s, which is what I would expect if I were using a USB 2.0 drive.  Did this mean that the recovery environment was much slower than the Windows environment, or could this be a driver issue?

Finally, I ran a restore from the ShadowProtect 5 recovery environment but before starting the restore job I loaded the appropriate USB 3.0 driver available on the ShadowProtect RE in the \Additional_Drivers\Physical\USB folder.  You’ll find that there is a very comprehensive collection of USB drivers here.  After a few seconds the USB 3.0 driver was loaded and I again set about restoring my data volume back to my hard disk.  The results were a complete recovery in 18 mins 15 seconds with throughput averaging around 50 MB/s.  This restore with the correct driver in the Recovery Environment was about as fast as the restore from within the Windows environment.

To find the driver for your hardware we recommend either checking Windows Device Manager if you are using the same machine, or search for the controller information on your PC motherboard manufacturer’s website.

In conclusion, there are a number of issues to consider when optimizing recovery time including the amount of data being written to the disk, the compression and implied processing of the data, and the hardware driver(s) used in reading/writing the data.  I kept this test simple to examine the performance difference when loading the appropriate USB 3.0 driver.  In this case, loading the right driver in the recovery environment made a big difference.

Happy Holidays!