gzip can be slow. Painfully slow. If you have a server with a bunch of processors then you can use pigz (pig-zee, or I guess pig-zed if you are Canadian) to utilize those processors.
Installation is easy: aptitude install pigz
Usage is also easy. For example, to tar and gzip /home/jacob using 3 processors, you could use this command: tar cf - -C / /home/jacob | pigz -p 3 > backup.tar.gz
I’m using this for some of my backup tasks and have dramatically cut down the time it takes for my backups to run. I’ve also used this a few times for bundling files up to move between servers.