High load during rsync or scp

Essentially, large backup operations are well-known to degrade the performance on the receiving end as a result of driving any of the resources that are used by specific features of the backup operation (CPU, network, I/O). The slowdown of the system during the backup window is expected, and is usually followed by higher load average and %iowait.

You may want to try to perform the backup in reverse direction — from server to client, so you could use nice and ionice to lower the priority and reduce the load a bit, for an example:

$ nice -n 19 ionice -c2 -n7 scp -ri ~/.ssh/your-private-key.pem user@client:/client/folder/to/backup /server/destination/folder

Furthermore, you can try limiting the transfer rate of scp and rsync with appropriate switches (-l, –bwlimit, respectively).

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