New SQL version will enable smaller and quicker backups

Most of you know that I like to use the latest beta test versions so as to learn what’s good and bad about them before our clients are exposed. So for a couple of weeks I’ve been using a test version of SQL Server 2008 which is going to be released as 2008 R2 in the first half of 2010 (best guess for a date is May currently).

The good news is that Microsoft have included a very useful feature in the standard edition of R2 that only used to be in the enterprise version (and therefore cost a fortune). It is a compression option for backups

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Why does this help – well with databases getting ever bigger the space you have to store backups is getting more and more limited.  Anything that allows us to create more backups and move them quickly is massively welcome.

So how good is the compression – well not bad. I backed up a NAV database I was working on that was just under 6Gb when backed up using standard 2008. The R2 beta reduced this by a very significant 79% leaving a file just 1.2Gb in size.

Better yet it completed the backup in 35 seconds compared to the standard uncompressed backup in 72 seconds. My explanation for this is that it takes more time to copy the backed up data to disk than it does to compress it and as its significantly quicker to copy a 1.2gb file than a 6Gb file you get quicker backups when compressing! Not a result I would have predicted but the 50%+ speed improvement is extremely helpful.

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To give you an idea of how good this is, I compressed the standard backup using WinRar (best compression utility I know) on its best compression setting and despite taking 23 minutes the file was only reduced to 0.58Gb. OK that’s half the size but it took 40 times longer!

I have to say well done Microsoft – this simple option addresses a problem that’s getting bigger for every client as databases grow and provides a simple straightforward solution. Smaller and faster is a very good result and it will be something I think many clients will want to install just for this feature.

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