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DavidHertzberg

A Mac User's Guide "Blast from the past"

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As noted in this thread in the Windows Professional Forum, DovidBenAvraham has just done a major enhancement of the Wikipedia article on Retrospect, bringing it up from around 2006 to the present.  He uses Retrospect Mac—although he tried to give adequate coverage to Retrospect Windows, and therefore recently noticed an interesting documentation problem within the Mac Version 13 User's Guide: "Because the Retrospect Windows User's Guide is now substantially different from the Retrospect Macintosh User's Guide, there seem to be some problems keeping the updates in sync. For example, both User's Guides have since v12/v10 had a section in an introductory chapter entitled 'High-level Dashboard', which describes the feature added in v11/v9. However the latest Macintosh User's Guide also has a section entitled 'Using the Dashboard' in a chapter towards the back of the UG entitled 'Managing Retrospect'; this section still describes the Dashboard prior to v11/v9, when it was simply an overview of some 'reports that come with the program' as well as some 'ones that you have created yourself'."

 

Just sayin', on DovidBenAvraham's behalf.

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Here's a DovidBenAvraham discovery of a probable "blast from the past" that's not just a problem with the Mac 13 User's Guide; it appears to be a problem with the Mac 13 program itself.  In the "Retrospect Macintosh 8" section of the old Wikipedia article, the bulleted item for the "All-new, customizable [administrator] interface" mentions a Retrieve button in the List View Toolbar for the Past Backups panel.  The Retrieve button in that toolbar is grayed-out in DBA's copy of the program, as it is in my copy.  Under what circumstances is that Retrieve button not grayed-out?

 

Here's a clue as to what's going on:  Page 122 of the Retrospect Windows 11 User's Guide, in the sub-section "Restoring in Advanced Mode" of the "Immediate Operations" chapter, says "When you select a Snapshot and click Retrieve Retrospect obtains the older Snapshot from the Backup Set media (which may require you to insert media) and adds it to the list in the restore source window.  The Retrieve button is disabled when you select a Snapshot that is already available."  As DBA understands it, Retrospect Mac 8 essentially did away with Immediate Operations as anything other than a fast way of creating one-shot scripts.  Also, page 267 of the Mac 13 User's Guide has the Glossary of Terms definition "Snapshot— In pervious [sic] versions of Retrospect, a Snapshot refers to the point-in-time file and folder listing that is captured during a backup operation to depict a volume’s state (that is, all its files and their paths).  Makes it easy to restore a hard disk to its exact state as of a given backup. Retrospect now uses the term backup to include both session and Snapshot data."

 

So it looks like the Retrieve button in the List View Toolbar for the Past Backups panel may be either an always-disabled holdover from pre-Mac-8 days, or is only enabled if you somehow mount a Media Set so old that it doesn't appear in the Past Backups list pane.

 

Lennart?  Mayoff?

Edited by DavidHertzberg
Wikipedia article has been significantly re-edited, but old version was saved

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The Retrieve button in that toolbar is grayed-out in DBA's copy of the program, as it is in my copy.  Under what circumstances is that Retrieve button not grayed-out?

 

Are you referring to this button?

 

post-2992-0-41184100-1478203294_thumb.png

 

That button is not grayed out in my copy of Retrospect 13.5. It pulls up the past backups associated with the selected media set, and enables retrieving the actual snapshot.

 

 

So it looks like the Retrieve button in the List View Toolbar for the Past Backups panel may be either an always-disabled holdover from pre-Mac-8 days...

 

The GUI prior to Retrospect 8 (i.e., 6.1 and earlier) was completely different. Certainly, it wasn't so slick as the current version, but many of us found it more useful  ;).

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Are you referring to this button?

 

attachicon.gifPast backups.png

 

That button is not grayed out in my copy of Retrospect 13.5. It pulls up the past backups associated with the selected media set, and enables retrieving the actual snapshot.

...

 

Yes, that's the button I'm referring to.  Thanks, twickland.

 

Based on what you've said, I just tried it out again on my copy of Retrospect 12.5.  As described here, I rotate my Media Sets once a week.  I confirmed that, if I select a backup done this week from Past Backups, the Retrieve button is grayed-out.  However, if I select a backup done either of the preceding weeks—onto a different Media Set—the button is not grayed out.  It makes no difference if I mount the drive containing the two-weeks-ago backups; selecting a backup done during that period still leaves the Retrieve button un-grayed-out.

 

I guess this relates to what JMcIntire was talking about in this post.  Since I don't have grooming enabled on my Media Sets, the only active snapshots in the catalog are the most recent ones for each Source.  It seems that if the selected backup from Past Backups is one covered by an active snapshot, Retrospect realizes that I don't need to do a Retrieve—I can just click the Browse button for the selected backup at the right-hand end of its list line and then do a Restore of whatever files I want.  Neat, if a little confusing.

 

P.S.: Do you think the Mac 13 User's Guide mentions the Retrieve button?  Think again.  How about this Tutorial from Mayoff?  Ditto.

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On 11/3/2016 at 5:26 PM, David Hertzberg said:

....

 

Based on what you've said, I just tried it out again on my copy of Retrospect 12.5.  As described here, I rotate my Media Sets once a week.  I confirmed that, if I select a backup done this week from Past Backups, the Retrieve button is grayed-out.  However, if I select a backup done either of the preceding weeks—onto a different Media Set—the button is not grayed out.  It makes no difference if I mount the drive containing the two-weeks-ago backups; selecting a backup done during that period still leaves the Retrieve button un-grayed-out.

 

I guess this relates to what JMcIntire was talking about in this post.  Since I don't have grooming enabled on my Media Sets, the only active snapshots in the catalog are the most recent ones for each Source.  It seems that if the selected backup from Past Backups is one covered by an active snapshot, Retrospect realizes that I don't need to do a Retrieve—I can just click the Browse button for the selected backup at the right-hand end of its list line and then do a Restore of whatever files I want.  Neat, if a little confusing.

 

P.S.: Do you think the Mac 13 User's Guide mentions the Retrieve button?  Think again.  How about this Tutorial from Mayoff?  Ditto.

 

 

DovidBenAvraham is trying to precisely understand the concept of the Snapshot, so he can explain it in the "Concepts prior to Retrospect Windows 7" section of the Wikipedia article. Page 38 of the Retrospect Windows 11 User's Guide says "For each volume, one Snapshot is stored in the Catalog File and a copy of the same Snapshot stored on the backup medium (tape, disk, cartridge, or CD).  Following each successful backup or archive operation, the old Catalog File Snapshot is replaced but old media Snapshots remain untouched and Retrospect adds new Snapshots to the medium."  Since the underlying mechanism of Retrospect Macintosh is the same as that of Retrospect Windows—per the last two sentences quoted in the second paragraph of post #2 in this thread, isn't the latest Snapshot copied into the Catalog File for each Media Set—not just the most-recently-updated Media Set?  If so, why is the Retrieve button enabled when I click a Past Backups list line for the latest backup of a volume that was done to a cataloged Media Set that was not the latest Media Set backed up to?  Shouldn't the Catalog File Snapshot for that volume in that Media Set be automatically accessed?

 

Actually I now find I need to correct my observation in the quoted post.  This morning, being a Saturday, I ran a Recycle Media Set backup of all my drives to "Media Set White" (my Media Sets are named "... Red", "... White", and "... Blue" in the patriotic American sequence).  I now find that if I click any line in the Past Backups list that relates to "Media Set White", the Retrieve button remains grayed-out.  The Retrieve button also remains grayed-out if I click any line in the Past Backups list that relates to "Media Set Red".  However if I click any line in the Past Backups list that relates to "Media Set Blue", the Retrieve button becomes enabled.  Is there a limit of two Media Sets for which the Snapshot is automatically accessed from the Catalog File?  Or is the limit two weeks?

 

Lennart?  Mayoff? JMcIntire?

 

P.S.: A bit over an hour ago, following up on my corrected observation in the second paragraph, I bravely selected a Past Backups list line relating to "Media Set Blue" and then clicked the Retrieve button.  I got a file browser window and a message saying I might need to wait several minutes for it to be populated.  I took the opportunity for a short bathroom break, and when I returned to my Mac Pro "backup server" the file browser had been populated with a single disclosure-triangle-equipped line for the backed-up volume.  Retrospect did not call for mounting the HDD for "Media Set Blue" (which I could have done if necessary, since I brought it back from the bank safe deposit box yesterday), which means it used the Snapshot in the Catalog File to populate the file browser.  I therefore conclude that the requirement for clicking the Retrieve button for an old-enough Media Set has to do with some kind of RAM-saving strategy, and is not an methodological constraint of Retrospect.  DBA will therefore not stress it in the Wikipedia article. 

 

P.P.S.: Oops, left out "post #2 in" in the fourth sentence of the first paragraph in this post; its absence really made that sentence confusing.

Edited by DavidHertzberg
Wikipedia article has been significantly re-edited, but old version was saved

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As of today, the Retrieve button in the List View Toolbar for the Console's Past Backups pane is enabled (not grayed-out) no matter which list line I select.  Since I reboot my "backup server" each time I use it, that implies that experimenting with the Retrieve and the list line Browse buttons over the last three days has done something to the Catalog-associated Snapshots for my Media Sets.

 

Note that Snapshot became an "un-concept" (in an Orwellian sense) for Retrospect Mac as of the version 8 User's Guide. Not even the Retrospect Windows 11 User's Guide provides any useful answer to this question.  The best answer I have found for the Retrieve button is contained in this 2014 post by Lennart Thelander.  The latest Mac User's Guide also contains no explanation of the Forget button In the same List View Toolbar.

 

Therefore DovidBenAvraham will not attempt to provide an explanation for either of these buttons in the Wikipedia article.

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OK, let's look at a related Mac User's Guide problem, from almost 9 months ago in the "Retrospect 9 or higher for Macintosh" forum. It's this post by JMcIntire in this thread . He is quoting the immediately- preceding post by me in the same thread.

"Posted 18 March 2016 - 05:43 PM
Quote
    The question is: What is an 'active backup'?
End-quote

Your active backups depend on your current grooming settings. If you have grooming disabled then your active backups will be the most recent backup of each source. If you have grooming enabled, we will keep the number of snapshots (backups) in the catalog necessary to carry out your grooming policy. For example, if you have "Groom to keep this number of backups" set to 3, we will keep 3 copies of your recent backups in your catalog, and consider them active.

Quote
    But then, why does Copy Backup offer 'Copy all backups' as a choice in the drop-down?
End-quote

While I admit this is a bit confusing, and I actually had to test the behavior to be certain, the user's guide is indeed correct. Copy backup scripts will only copy active backups, meaning that with this drop-down option selected, we will copy all of your active backups. I'll preemptively agree with you that this is misleading, and have already logged a bug to correct the wording here."

Note that, in his first paragraph, JMcIntire uses the term Snapshot, which has been an "un-concept" (in the Orwellian sense) since Retrospect Mac 8. JMcIntire—who as an "Escalation engineer" evidently works for Retrospect Inc. and probably normally for Engineering rather than Support—cannot explain the following quote from page 161 of the Retrospect Mac v.13 User's Guide without indirectly using the term Snapshot.  "Copy Backup scripts are different from Copy Media Sets scripts in a number of ways: • They copy only active backups; Copy Media Sets scripts copy all backups. • They provide different methods for selecting which backups get copied, such as the most recent backup for each source contained in the source Media Set; Copy Media Sets scripts always copy all backups."  JMcIntire's explanation of why Copy Backup scripts are different from Copy Media Sets scripts is much more significant than any explanation DovidBenAvraham might need to provide in the Wikipedia article about the Retrieve and Forget buttons in the List View Toolbar for the Console's Past Backups panel.  It caused me to alter step C2 in this post earlier in the same thread, and it is the updated version of that post which has made that thread wildly popular (1,018 views as of 9 November) in the forum.

 

So I have suggested, in my Support Case that covers posts #2 through #7 in this thread, that Retrospect Inc. bite the bullet and "rehabilitate" the term Snapshot in the Mac User's Guide. Doing so will make both explanations much simpler. Besides, the Windows User's Guide still uses the term Snapshot, so Retrospect Inc. can copy passages from that document where necessary.  And, after all, we know that Snapshots still exist in Retrospect Mac; Retrospect Mac 12.5 shows in the Activity detail Status and the Log that Snapshots are being built and copied and compared every time I run a Backup script.

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