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LRSFC_DanJ

More granular control over email notifications

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At the moment, Retrospect's email notification system is very all-or-nothing, with only broad, high level categories to choose from.

It's also very chatty/spammy in that it sends an individual, separate email for every single notification event.

It would be good if a) emails could be batched up into a "digest" format that could be sent once every few minutes rather than getting 15+ separate emails within the space of a few seconds and b) if there could be some way to have choices about subcategories of emails.

For example, I don't want to be notified about -519 errors, as these usually occur if a client is turned off when Retrospect is trying to back it up, but I do want to be notified about media errors.

 

Thanks,

Dan Jackson (Senior ITServices Technician)

Long Road Sixth Form College

Cambridge, UK

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LRSFC_DanJ,

I notice you raised this question about 1.5 years ago here.  I'm going to assume that you are now running Retrospect Windows 15.1.  One reason is that I'm sure you realize any enhancement will only show up in Retrospect 15.5 or later.

The other reason is that what I think you really need is the forthcoming Web Console.  As a Retrospect Mac user, I have been able to use the Console since I restarted using Retrospect in 2015.  (I can't use the Console remotely, since my license is for the lowly Desktop Edition, but that isn't a problem because my "backup server" is in my bedroom—40 feet away from the study where I have my "clients".)  As you can read in this section of the Wikipedia article—especially if you follow the links and references—the Retrospect Developers intended to put a remote Console into Retrospect Windows in 2009, but Windows security restrictions prevented them from doing it using the same approach that worked for Retrospect Mac.  Now they're apparently going to do it by conceptually turning Retrospect.exe into a Web server, although the date for a preview release has now slipped to September 2018.

Once you have that capability, you'll just be able to look at the Web Console once every 15 minutes—or as often as you want—instead of any Retrospect e-mails "digest".  In the meantime you should read the last newly-added section of the "Troubleshooting Email Notifications" Knowledge Base article.  It says "If you would prefer to only receive a subset of these [error notification e-mails], please add a filter or rule to your email service to automatically archive or delete based on the subject."  Doing that, you would be able to delete e-mails about -519 errors before you even see them.

However, since you say "I don't want to be notified about -519 errors, as these usually occur if a client is turned off when Retrospect is trying to back it up", I wonder whether you should consider using Proactive scripts.  These are discussed on pages 236-251 of the Retrospect Windows 15 User's Guide, and the new Proactive AI enhancements are discussed in this Knowledge Base article.

If you nevertheless want to put in a request for the e-mails feature enhancement, here is why and how to do it.

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LRSFC_DanJ,

It just occurred to me that you can have a mostly-view-only remote Console right now, if you can run this IOS app.  It was first released in 2010, after being developed as an after-hours "hack" (in the good sense) by a Retrospect developer who was still working for EMC or Roxio. It lay fallow from 2014 to 2017, but was then updated by Retrospect Inc..

I've been informed that the app uses inter-process-communications capabilities that were carefully preserved in Retrospect Windows; how it gets around the Windows security restrictions is "above my pay grade".  Before you ask, an Android version of the app was AFAIK never developed. 

I only bought my first cell phone last month, and (although I think it runs some version of Android under the hood/bonnet) it's the sturdiest and dumbest phone I could find—and it's manufactured by the security-menacing ZTE (come eavesdrop on my calls and messages, Chinese Intelligence, if you think it will do you any good)—so you'll get no help from me.  However there's a separate Forum devoted to the "Retrospect for iOS" app.

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On 6/15/2018 at 8:55 PM, DavidHertzberg said:

LRSFC_DanJ,

I notice you raised this question about 1.5 years ago here.  I'm going to assume that you are now running Retrospect Windows 15.1.  One reason is that I'm sure you realize any enhancement will only show up in Retrospect 15.5 or later.

The other reason is that what I think you really need is the forthcoming Web Console.  As a Retrospect Mac user, I have been able to use the Console since I restarted using Retrospect in 2015.  (I can't use the Console remotely, since my license is for the lowly Desktop Edition, but that isn't a problem because my "backup server" is in my bedroom—40 feet away from the study where I have my "clients".)  As you can read in this section of the Wikipedia article—especially if you follow the links and references—the Retrospect Developers intended to put a remote Console into Retrospect Windows in 2009, but Windows security restrictions prevented them from doing it using the same approach that worked for Retrospect Mac.  Now they're apparently going to do it by conceptually turning Retrospect.exe into a Web server, although the date for a preview release has now slipped to September 2018.

Once you have that capability, you'll just be able to look at the Web Console once every 15 minutes—or as often as you want—instead of any Retrospect e-mails "digest".  In the meantime you should read the last newly-added section of the "Troubleshooting Email Notifications" Knowledge Base article.  It says "If you would prefer to only receive a subset of these [error notification e-mails], please add a filter or rule to your email service to automatically archive or delete based on the subject."  Doing that, you would be able to delete e-mails about -519 errors before you even see them.

However, since you say "I don't want to be notified about -519 errors, as these usually occur if a client is turned off when Retrospect is trying to back it up", I wonder whether you should consider using Proactive scripts.  These are discussed on pages 236-251 of the Retrospect Windows 15 User's Guide, and the new Proactive AI enhancements are discussed in this Knowledge Base article.

If you nevertheless want to put in a request for the e-mails feature enhancement, here is why and how to do it.

Oh it looks like I'd posted it in the wrong forum, that's why I didn't find it in a search. But anyway yes you're correct, we're now running 15.1 and it still isn't a thing.

Having an email rule to remove those -519 emails is a workaround but it's not a long-term solution.

A web console is all very well, but it won't create a ticket in our ticketing system when something happens which we need to know about (such as disk space running out), where an email will.

With regard to the Proactive backup, that's what we have set up at the moment, but it is still giving us the -519 errors. It's my understanding with Mac clients that Wake-on-Lan can only work if the Macs are in sleep mode, not if they are switched off, so we haven't been enabling Wake-on-Lan.

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6 hours ago, LRSFC_DanJ said:

....

Having an email rule to remove those -519 emails is a workaround but it's not a long-term solution.

A web console is all very well, but it won't create a ticket in our ticketing system when something happens which we need to know about (such as disk space running out), where an email will.

With regard to the Proactive backup, that's what we have set up at the moment, but it is still giving us the -519 errors. It's my understanding with Mac clients that Wake-on-Lan can only work if the Macs are in sleep mode, not if they are switched off, so we haven't been enabling Wake-on-Lan.

WRT creating a ticket in your ticketing system, why not do so automatically by creating a script hook script per this Knowledge Base article?  The "Events" you would be interested in are MediaRequest and TimedOutMediaRequest.  For advice you could send a Private Message to saskia, who has mentioned creating script hook scripts in the thread whose latest post is this one.   She'll help you make everything tickety-boo (sorry, I couldn't resist throwing in an applicable Brit slang term).

WRT to your use of Proactive backups, I don't understand why you would be getting -519 errors for machines that are switched off.  I don't use Proactive scripts in my simple home installation, but I thought the idea was that Proactive scripts only tried to back up "clients" when they were switched on.  Oh wait, I see from "Eliminate the Human Factor" in this Knowledge Base article that a user can create a -519 error by putting to sleep or switching off a "client" machine that is being backed up.  Have you considered putting Post-it notes on your "client" Macs that say "Don't Sleep/switch off this machine if you see a dropdown in the Menu Bar that shows it is being backed up"?

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On 6/19/2018 at 9:01 AM, DavidHertzberg said:

....

WRT to your use of Proactive backups, I don't understand why you would be getting -519 errors for machines that are switched off.  I don't use Proactive scripts in my simple home installation, but I thought the idea was that Proactive scripts only tried to back up "clients" when they were switched on.  Oh wait, I see from "Eliminate the Human Factor" in this Knowledge Base article that a user can create a -519 error by putting to sleep or switching off a "client" machine that is being backed up.  Have you considered putting Post-it notes on your "client" Macs that say "Don't Sleep/switch off this machine if you see a dropdown in the Menu Bar that shows it is being backed up"?

LRSFC_DanJ,

I just remembered that, back in September 2016, I demonstrated that Wake-On-LAN didn't work for scheduled scripts doing Backup of my MacBook Pro—and this was confirmed as a bug by Retrospect Tech Support.  I don't use Proactive scripts, so I asked in the immediately-preceding post whether the bug also existed for Proactive scripts.  I never got an answer in that thread or the thread that post linked to.

The cumulative Retrospect Windows Release Notes have the following entries for 15.1: "Windows Client: Fixed Wake-On-Lan (WOL) for upgraded Windows client (#7358)".   "Mac Client: Fixed issue where client did not prevent macOS from going to sleep during backup (#7273)".   They also have the following entry for 15.0: "Changed defaults for "Wake-on-LAN" option: disabled for proactive backup and enabled for other scripts (#7237)".

Since you're running Retrospect Windows 15.1, you might want to make sure you've updated your Client software on all your Mac and Windows "client" machines to make sure your Mac "clients" are not inadvertently going to sleep during Proactive backups. 

If your users are intentionally putting Mac "clients" to sleep during Proactive backups, I suggest the Post-it note approach quoted at the beginning of this post.  I also suggest that you talk to Tech Support, to find out exactly what the Wake-On-LAN situation is for Clients. 

BTW I don't see any way any application's "backup server" could wake up a "client" that has been actually powered off, but then I only had high-school physics.  Maybe Chinese Intelligence can do it for ZTE cell phones; I bought one about  a month ago, so should I be worried?

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On 6/28/2018 at 10:47 PM, DavidHertzberg said:

BTW I don't see any way any application's "backup server" could wake up a "client" that has been actually powered off

On PCs, standard Wake-On-LAN packets can wake computers from ACPI S5 (powered off, but the mains power socket on the wall is still on). This function is not available for Macs, which can only be woken from shallower sleep states.

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It does appear that what I want can be achieved by bypassing the program's own email notification options and using a script to achieve the notifications:

https://github.com/retrospectinc/script-hooks/tree/master/Email Notifier

I still believe this should be a checkbox that can be checked/unchecked in the user interface rather than needing an external script to control what email notifications are sent out though.

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On 7/2/2018 at 5:32 AM, LRSFC_DanJ said:

It does appear that what I want can be achieved by bypassing the program's own email notification options and using a script to achieve the notifications:

https://github.com/retrospectinc/script-hooks/tree/master/Email Notifier

I still believe this should be a checkbox that can be checked/unchecked in the user interface rather than needing an external script to control what email notifications are sent out though.

LRSFC_DanJ,

Glad to see a version of the script hook script you need is already written, so you don't need to go to the lengths I suggested here.  Interesting to see that, according to the copyright date, it was written in 2012.  This confirms what I had  previously learned; script hook scripts, which were announced as a new feature of Retrospect Windows 12, already existed.  Maybe they were just new for Retrospect Mac 14, although they didn't work there for Windows Clients until saskia got that fixed over six months later.

However, in the "Example scripts" section of this Knowledge Base article, there is a script listed as

email notifier

Windows specific batch file to illustrate emailing each event. (Old)

I just downloaded the .ZIP file linked to at the top of the "Example scripts" section of that article, and the applicable script in it appears to be identical—except for the line-starting plus signs—to what you linked to.  That would imply that the script is a Windows batch file, written in a language even more loathsome (looks longingly at old C++ books on shelf)—but more widely known by IT people—than VBA.

Could you come up with a combination of checkboxes that would satisfy all administrators, or would individual adaptions of a  script be easier?

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