Re. #2, some tips to help isolate the issue.
I'd stick with blocking and get that working perfectly, as you are sort of doing, then we can work on any non-blocking issues.
The blocking backup process backs up a synced database and therefore there will be no log file to back up.
It would be counter-productive to back up back up files, especially since the database is in fully synced state.
Try to use a clean and new restoration of the backup without your app, thereby eliminating app-integration issues. You can use SqlTool or DatabaseManager or whatever to validate the restored database.
To eliminate TarReader as a possible source of problems, use just tar to extract.. If you are on Windows, I recommend msysgit from http://code.google.com/p/msysgit/downloads/list. Real GNU tar is in the bin subdirectory. Or 7-Zip. With zipped 7-Zip tars you have to extract twice, one for ungz and one for tar extract. These are speculative recommendations since I can't remember the last time I extracted these backups on Windows.
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