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rfajman

Restrospect 16 Desktop Advantages?

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I just recently got the Retrospect 16 announcement and can't help but wonder what advantages, if any, it has for the lowly user of the Desktop/Professional version?

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I'm sure they keep advancing the technology to address new storage options, and there are always bug fixes and performance enhancements. This is what has changed.

https://www.retrospect.com/en/documentation/user_guide/win/release_notes

As a dealer, I've been using 16 for a week now, and to be diplomatic about this, I think you should wait about three months and come back and ask your question again.  It's still pretty green.

As with most other software vendors, installing point upgrades is usually beneficial.  In other words from 15.1 to 15.2 or 15.3, etc.  Major version upgrades are usually a complete recompile of the entire program and unless you have a tolerance for pain or really want the bleeding edge tech, as an early adopter you may be chasing bugs for a while.

From a high-level view, you should always pay the ASM, even if it hurts.  I know from this forum that there are people who are still on very obsolete versions of Retrospect who don't see the point. But from an industry standpoint, the ASM fees (or whatever maintenance fees are called for other products) are an investment in supporting the company so it will be around years from now. They aren't getting rich on that money, it's what keeps them in business and allows them to push forward on technology and remain competitive so they get new sales and gain market share.

End of lecture. But my advice for today is hold of on installing Version 16 for several weeks, then go for it.

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rfajman,

Nobody on these Forums works for Retrospect Inc., so you're not going to get the Sales view—which is probably what you wanted to avoid.  Your last post before Thursday stated you were using Retrospect Windows 12, with 2 "clients" and a "backup server" machine in Silver Spring MD, so we can assume you don't need Remote Backup or GDPR compliance.  However we don't know whether yours is a family-centered installation or a small business, or whether you backup to a cloud destination.

We have no idea whether you ever installed Retrospect Windows 15, so we don't know whether you use the E-Mail Protection feature.  We also don't know if you use Proactive backup, which was greatly modernized (as BackupBot or ProactiveAI) in version 15.  If you ever installed Retrospect Windows 15, I hope you've upgraded it to 15.6.1.104—because 15.5 and 15.6.0 were "bad releases" that disabled existing features.

Proceeding to Retrospect Windows 16.0, I'll assume you have full access to the "backup server" machine—so you are likely not plagued by the Windows inter-process security restrictions that motivated the development of the Web-based Management Console with its Add-On that allows Shared Scripts.  Even if you do use Proactive backup scripts, I doubt you have so many of them that you need Storage Groups.  The same is likely to be true for Deployment Tools.

My recent experience with the Dashboard in Retrospect Mac 15.6.1.105 (which I only upgraded to in early January 2019) indicates that—unless the Retrospect Inc. engineers fixed several glaring bugs in existing and new panes in time for 16.0 while ignoring my Support Case about them—the Dashboard-derived Management Console is "not ready for prime time".  So I second mbennett's diplomatic suggestion that you wait for Retrospect Windows 16.1, which past practices indicate will be released in mid-May 2019. B)

I think your OP question reflects my impression that Retrospect Inc. Product Management has adopted a "go big or go home" strategy for the last two major releases.  Your installation may not fit into that strategy; mine certainly doesn't. ;)

 

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Yes, I do have 15.6.1.104.  The upgrades did finally seem to be worthwhile to me, even though I haven't yet tried Email Protection or ProactiveAI.  I found the description of ProactiveAI rather unclear, although I'm sure I'll figure it out once I really try to use it.   As for upgrading to 16.0, thanks for confirming my feeling that I should wait.

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rfajman and others,

As to ProactiveAI, you have to read the Knowledge Base article I linked to in my preceding post in conjunction with pages 236-251 in the Retrospect Windows 15 User's Guide.  The "AI" was added to the end of "Proactive" to signify the adoption of a new decision-tree algorithm for determining the priorities of "client" backups.  IMHO It really doesn't constitute artificial intelligence, unless you count the use of linear regression along with a decision tree as rising to that level.  OTOH it's evidently better than the preceding algorithm, on which Dantz/EMC's patent seems to have expired in 2016.

The fact that you have to go through this instructional mess is yet another example of the IMHO gross stupidity/laziness of a policy adopted by Retrospect Inc.'s august Documentation Committee in 2015.  Prior to that year, Retrospect Inc.'s policy was to describe new features of a major version fairly comprehensively in the "What's New" chapter of the UG for that version.  The descriptions in that "What's New" chapter would then, for the next version of the UG, be incorporated in appropriate sections of follow-on chapters in the UG—allowing the"What's New" chapter to be overwritten with fairly comprehensive descriptions of the next set of new features.  Starting in 2015 the august Documentation Committee adopted a policy of only overwriting the "What's New" chapter without incorporating its previous contents in follow-on chapters.  The Committee relied instead on individual engineers to create KB articles containing the previous feature descriptions.  For some new features, such as the one facilitating moving Members of Backup/Media Sets to larger disks, the engineer(s) couldn't be bothered to create a short KB article.  So how to use those features, especially for Retrospect Windows, is locked forever in the minds of Retrospect Inc. engineers—and maybe harassed Retrospect Tech Support people.

Starting in March 2018 the "What's New" chapter in the UGs became merely marketing blurbs, useless for administrators trying to learn how to use new features.  I created  Support Case #59820, stating the problem plainly on 20 March 2018.  I was told by a senior Tech Support engineer that, sometime this side of the indefinite future, Retrospect Inc. intends to do a comprehensive rewrite of the UGs. :rolleyes:  I think it's time for us administrator users to each inscribe the letters "TUIT" on a round piece of paper, and snail-mail it to :

Retrospect, Inc.

Attn.: August Documentation Committee
1547 Palos Verdes Mall, Suite 155
Walnut Creek, CA 94597
United States

That will communicate to the August Documentation Committee a notice that now is the time to "get around to it". B)

 

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David,

I had to laugh when I read your suggestion. One of the HARDEST MOUNTAINS YOU WILL EVER CLIMB is to try to convince the management of a small software company to hire a good tech writer to create and maintain their documentation.  They see this as a straight money losing proposition.  I've tried with different companies over the years, and if there is a convincing argument I've yet to find it.

They never think the subsequent decrease in support costs and increase in customer satisfaction will make up the difference.  As with most companies, Retrospect's manuals fall into the category of "informative but not instructional".  They tell you what the program can do, but not how to use the program to achieve the results you want.  It's better than nothing, and you've got to appreciate the volume of the docs, but it's sometimes a treasure hunt to find what you're actually looking for.

It is quite expensive to do it right.  If you want to see somebody who does it right, and is much bigger than Retrospect, take a look at Fortinet.  Just Google "Fortinet Cookbooks" and get on the Fortinet Youtube channel.  It's phenomenal.

Mark

 

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mbennett/Mark,

But Retrospect Inc. evidently hired a good tech writer a number of years ago to create their pair of User's Guides.  The new features added since 2015 are all basically enhancements to features already in Retrospect.  In the 5th paragraph of this post in another thread I said:

Quote

Consider that in 3.5 hours I was able to write a Support Case with detailed instructions on how to move the feature descriptions that were deleted by overwriting of the "What's New" chapters into later chapters of the UG.  I estimate that anyone on the Documentation Committee could have implemented those moves for both versions of the UG in less than 10 hours.  Why doesn't someone in Product Management take on the job, since these features are a selling point for Retrospect?  Are they waiting for some ever-elusive member of the Documentation Committee to do a "sometime in the future" complete rewrite of the UGs?  I've been told by a senior Support Engineer that they are.

Those Support Case #54077 detailed instructions turn out to be for moving the feature descriptions in the Retrospect Mac 13 "What's New" chapter into follow-on chapters of the Retrospect Mac 14 UG.  So let's  quadruple my 10-hour estimate to cover moving all the feature descriptions in "What's New" for Retrospect Mac 12 through 15 (Retrospect Windows 10 through 15—with versions 13 and 14 having been skipped) to follow-on chapters in both variants of the UG.  That's still only 1 person-week. I've been told by two senior people in Sales that Retrospect Inc. has now hired a new Sales Support engineer.  Moving those descriptions should be within his/her capabilities, and will aid in his/her familiarization with the product.

And here's an idea so ingenious only I could have thought of it: ;)  Create links in the UGs to Knowledge Base articles.  That way the section "Proactive Scripts" at the end of the "Automated Operations" chapter of the Retrospect Windows UG could contain a link to the "White Papers" KB article I've linked to in my preceding posts in this thread.  Moreover most of the "Cloud Backup" and "Email Backup" KB articles could be shortened, since they differ from one another only in the details of set-up for a particular provider—and all other sections of those articles could be moved to the UG.  However maybe that would violate the principle discovered 10 years ago by EMC Iomega (third paragraph here), which is "nobody ever went broke under-estimating the flexibility of some Retrospect administrators—especially if they're running Retrospect Windows."

IMHO this whole documentation mess is the result of a fascination on the part of Retrospect Inc. Product Management with marketing their products through consultants, or Partners in their terminology.  You can see this especially in the way the Web-based Management Console is being marketed.  The Management Console Add-On, which is needed to enable the Shared Scripts feature—a start on the two-way Retrospect Windows Console Don Lee was asking for two years ago, has not yet been added to the Product Configurator as of this moment.  And that's despite two senior people in Retrospect Sales telling me over the last week that it would be added.  Consultants, you see, will have learned to find their way around all the KB articles—and they're the only people Product Management cares about at the moment. :rolleyes:

P.S.: Corrected my paraphrase of H.L. Mencken in the last sentence of the next-to-last paragraph.

Edited by DavidHertzberg
P.S. about correcting paraphrase of H.L. Mencken in next-to-last paragraph

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Here's DovidBenAvraham's 13 April 2019 comment about the Web-based Management Console with its missing-from-the-Configurator Add-On that allows Shared Scripts, as excerpted—with a few square-bracketed clarifications—from the Talk page of the Wikipedia article:

Quote

More than two weeks ago [now actually more than 4 weeks ago] two senior Retrospect Inc. salespeople told my friend [me] that the Add-On would soon be included in the Configurator—but that hasn't happened yet. The likely reason is that the Knowledge Base article for Shared Scripts says [here] "Note that as of March 5, 2019, deployment options are limited to ProactiveAI scripts with standard source containers [("All sources", "All local", "All clients", "All network", "All email")] to cloud destinations with simple scheduling options. Support for local sources, local destinations including disk, scheduled scripts, and more extensive scheduling options will be available soon." So the basic capability for deploying shared scripts is officially released, but in Retrospect 16.0 it's so minimal as to be in practice useless for ordinary backup administrators. OTOH aggregation-drilldown within organizations, which also requires the same Add-On, is immediately useful to Partners—the Retrospect Inc. term for consultants who market the backup software to organizations. So it looks to us as if Retrospect Inc. is currently only marketing the license code Add-On to Partners, although a non-Partner administrator can buy it by phoning Retrospect Sales and saying [ ;) ] "pretty please with cherries on top". I [DBA] had considered removing Shared Scripts from the article, but enhanced deployment options are likely to be made available with the release of Retrospect 16.1—which past history shows is likely to happen around 15 May 2019. The only factor causing a longer delay would be if the developers cannot resolve the question of whether the Management Console GUI for defining Shared Scripts should look like the equivalent GUI in the Mac variant or the Windows variant (what they released on 5 March seems to us [DBA and me] more like the Mac variant).

 

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