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NoelC

Can scheduled operations be done without retrorun

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Hello,

New Retrospect user here...  Looks like a good product; I like that I could quickly set it up to do exactly the nightly backup I needed, and that it's reporting 0 errors and 0 warnings for incremental backups of multiple terabytes of volumes that complete in good time. 

However, the need to keep service retrorun running bothers me.

I have a philosophy of keeping installs of all software on my computers as lean as possible.  By following this philosophy and enforcing a minimal running process count through the use of e.g., Autoruns I have been able to keep Windows installations efficient and performant and have often advanced performance.  People often complain that Windows slows down over time.  Not my Windows systems!

Windows provides a perfectly good Task Scheduler.  Can Retrospect be configured to use it, eliminating the need for the retrorun service component to be kept running? 

I have seen, for example that the command line given to Retrospect.exe contains the term "autostart", and an attempt to start Retrospect.exe from the Task Scheduler at the time of my nightly scheduled backup DID work after a fashion but did not yield the expected process exit after the backup was complete.

Thanks for any wisdom you are willing to share on this.

-Noel

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NoelC,

I'm a Retrospect Mac administrator, so I don't have the possibility of any retrorun service—since Retrospect Mac 8.0 in 2009 eliminated it.  However this 2017 post seems to tell how to use Windows Task Scheduler.

OTOH the 2018 thread starting with this post seems to tell how to use the Retrospect Launcher Service.  There's also this 2019 Knowledge Base article, which may not be applicable to your setup. 

Finally  Retrospect Windows does not quit after an operation—backup or otherwise—is complete if there is another operation scheduled within the "look ahead time", which defaults to 12 hours.  This is discussed under "Schedule Preferences" on pages 397-398 of the Retrospect Windows 16 User's Guide.  I think the feature applies whether or not you're using retrorun, but again as a Retrospect Mac administrator I'm  not an expert on it..

Edited by DavidHertzberg
Added third paragraph; Retrospect Mac pre-8.0 did have retrorun

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Thanks.  It occurred to me I didn't provide enough information.  My backup is set for once per night at 2am; my look ahead time is minimized to 1 hour, and I have disabled Instant Scan.  Basically I want a very simple, once per night, single computer backup to permanently attached local storage.  The system runs 24/7.

I find these text lines from the post at the first link you posted most interesting, as they are pertinent to my question:

> Retrospect is configured to run as the logged-in user (who has all permissions needed for backups), and the Task Scheduler is configured to run its task under that same user account. This enables Retrospect windows to appear normally on that user's desktop.

> ) Invoking Retrospect.exe with a "Run Document" argument opens the main window, runs that script and any waiting scripts, and either stays in Retrospect or exits (depending on Startup Preferences).

> Exit (or others) (Works only with a "Run Document" argument.)

The above describe my situation and imply it's possible I simply have not yet found the proper combination of options and command line arguments.  I have not tried saving the one and only script I've created as a "Run Document".

The only thing I'd rather not have to do is leave the system logged on, though in practice that is almost always the case.

My remaining question is whether the setting for "Enable Retrospect Launcher Service" and "Automatically Launch Retrospect" should be left checked but the retrorun service set to "Manual" or "Disabled", or should they just be unchecked.  I will proceed presuming the latter.

Appreciate your help!

-Noel

 

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NoelC,

With Retrospect Mac, the Retrospect Mac Engine task normally starts when the Mac is booted as a particular user, and is not stopped except by going to System Preferences.  The Retrospect Mac Console (non-Web) is a separate GUI task that can be started and stopped and re-started from the Mac Dock.  The Retrospect developers were trying to implement this same Engine/Console split for Retrospect Windows, but—as the first paragraph here says—Gates and Ballmer made that impossible (unless the Engine was given a built-in Web server—which the Retrospect developers either couldn't or didn't want to do).

The Retrospect "Inc." developers are, as I write this, preparing to release an enhanced version of the Web-based Management Console that should—based on hosting the Console on Heroku—finally allow Retrospect Windows to have the same Engine/Console split as Retrospect Mac.  Then you'll be able to let the Retrospect Windows Engine run 24/7, while using nothing except paged-out memory when no operation is running.

P.S.: And here's my brief discussion of the Web-based Management Console, which was released on 1 October 2019.

Edited by DavidHertzberg
P.S. links to brief discussion of the released Web-based Management Console

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Got it working.

Success was as simple as realizing that Retrospect.exe with a run document (xxxxxx.rrr, as saved during script setup) as a parameter will just do the backup specified by the run document then do what's configured when done (e.g., exit in my case).  No scheduling at all needs to be done in Retrospect, Enable Management console is unchecked, Enable Retrospect Launcher service is unchecked, and Instant Scan needs is disabled.

Voila, one scheduled job in the Windows Task Scheduler done at a particular time that invokes my nightly backup.  There are no ongoing running processes from the intergalactic backup program that I just need to do one very simple backup at the same time each night.

While it would have been nice for it to work like this right out of the box (e.g., easy integration with Windows Task Scheduler just by setting the right options in the Restrospect UI), I can live with rolling my own.  Might be a case where developers, very close to the product and constantly focused on adding valuable features, have forgotten that it can/should be a basic low-impact backup solution too.

The only other downside I've seen so far (and will work on next) is that Retrospect emits my system "Asterisk" (ding in my case) sound - presumably to announce that the backup has succeeded - which has awakened me at about 3:30am twice so far.  Next step will be to configure it to not interact with the console at all if possible.  I suspect that will just be a small change in the Task Scheduler to "Run whether user is logged on or not", which is what I want anyway because I don't want to have to leave it logged on to get backups done.

Still on the trial period but I suspect I'll succeed and Retrospect will get my business.

-Noel

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NoelC

Retrospect can be very frustrating at times.  Just check out the threads I have started.  But it also has amazing functionality to back up my home LAN, that I don't think I can find in any other backup program, at least at an affordable price.

This forum is a great resource, with some very smart people.  (I'm not one of them ... 😀 )

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On 9/7/2019 at 11:47 AM, NoelC said:

Got it working.

Success was as simple as realizing that Retrospect.exe with a run document (xxxxxx.rrr, as saved during script setup) as a parameter will just do the backup specified by the run document then do what's configured when done (e.g., exit in my case).  No scheduling at all needs to be done in Retrospect, Enable Management console is unchecked, Enable Retrospect Launcher service is unchecked, and Instant Scan needs is disabled.

Voila, one scheduled job in the Windows Task Scheduler done at a particular time that invokes my nightly backup.  There are no ongoing running processes from the intergalactic backup program that I just need to do one very simple backup at the same time each night.

While it would have been nice for it to work like this right out of the box (e.g., easy integration with Windows Task Scheduler just by setting the right options in the Restrospect UI), I can live with rolling my own.  Might be a case where developers, very close to the product and constantly focused on adding valuable features, have forgotten that it can/should be a basic low-impact backup solution too.

The only other downside I've seen so far (and will work on next) is that Retrospect emits my system "Asterisk" (ding in my case) sound - presumably to announce that the backup has succeeded - which has awakened me at about 3:30am twice so far.  Next step will be to configure it to not interact with the console at all if possible.  I suspect that will just be a small change in the Task Scheduler to "Run whether user is logged on or not", which is what I want anyway because I don't want to have to leave it logged on to get backups done.

Still on the trial period but I suspect I'll succeed and Retrospect will get my business.

-Noel

NoelC,

Although I am a Mac user, I think you fail to recognize how much more Windows knowledge you have than the average backup administrator, as DovidBenAvraham describes her/him in the last sentence of the lead of the appropriate Wikipedia articleThis Digital Citizen article says "Unfortunately, not many people know about this tool, as Windows does not advertise it as much as it deserves."  The article starts out describing how to open Windows Task Scheduler, but that description only applies to Windows 7 and later.

Windows 7 wasn't made generally available until late October 2009 and was adopted by users over the next 3 years.  By March 2014 Retrospect Inc. had introduced the Dashboard, which the engineers evidently believed would be an easier-to-use generalized within-the-application-UI solution for Retrospect Windows (but they didn't attempt to fix its glaring bugs until 2017).  In 2013, the engineers must have felt that building a UI solution into Retrospect Windows would be easier than trying to teach backup administrators to use a separate facility in a version of Windows that was just then achieving critical mass—and a scan of these Forums will show you that many Retrospect Windows administrators are forced by their organizations to work with obsolete versions of Windows.

P.S.: On 16 October 2019 I attended a 45-minute webinar "Manage Backups from Anywhere with Retrospect Backup 16.5".  The demonstration of Granular Remote Management, conducted by the head of Retrospect Tech Support, showed a response time for the Web-based Management Console that seemed to be a lot faster than the once-every-60-seconds described in the post I linked to in the 3 October P.S. of my preceding post in this thread. It's still not in the Configurator (I think Retrospect "Inc." Product Management is still thinking of it as a tool for Partners), but Sales told me it only costs an additional US$49 for the Desktop Edition.  If I were administrating Retrospect Windows, I'd pay that—for a Web-based Management Console that seems to be about as good as the non-Web-based Retrospect Mac Console I now use—instead of learning a Windows Task Scheduler without Retrospect facilities.

P.P.S.: On 25 October 2019 I phoned the head of North American Retrospect Sales, who did part of the narration at the webinar.  He confirmed that Granular Remote Management really has a response time for the Web-based Management Console as fast as shown.

Edited by DavidHertzberg
P.S.: If I were administrating Retrospect Windows, I'd pay US$49 for the Web-based Management Console instead of learning a Windows Task Scheduler without Retrospect facilities; P.P.S.: Granular Remote Management really has response time as fast as shown

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Running processes - handy services or whatever - DO take system resources, however incrementally small they may be.  They add up.

I'm a long-time software engineer.  I've consistently built Windows workstations over my career that do more work than the average system - a LOT more.

I have a old circa 2013 Dell Precision T5500 workstation right now that I use for engineering work (the one on which I've installed Retrospect, above and on which am typing this) and it is just as responsive and can do software builds just as fast as a brand new (expensive!) 2019 Dell Precision 7820 workstation I have just purchased with MUCH better hardware all around that I have not yet trimmed and tweaked for best performance.  Xeon Westmere vs. Xeon Scalable Gold cores, SATA III SSD vs. m.2 NVMe, half the RAM speed vs. double - yet all the bloat and extra "handy" stuff installed in Win 10 on the new system (150+ processes to support an empty desktop!?!, OMG!) soaks up EVERY BIT of that newer, more powerful technology.  My old workstation is lean and mean (42 processes to support an empty desktop, without any extraneous software running) - yet it is still general purpose for MY needs and supports my needs every bit as well.  Plus it's more reliable.

This new, modern approach of installing suites of mostly useless (but handy!) software just in case you might want it is akin to death by 1000 paper cuts.  When AI achieves sentience it will hate us for this.

Dumbing-down a system, loading it up with "handy" but mostly useless software, and leaving the details to "someone else" is simply NOT the right answer.  Only education and engineers keeping their eyes on the prize will take us to a Star Trek future.  I do not need a Weather App on my desktop.  I do not need a backup system that eschews the system scheduler and runs its own in parallel, taking megabytes and millions of CPU cycles away from the work I need to do.

Retrospect developers take note:

Had I not been able to train Retrospect to jump through this particular hoop and have zero impact to my system when it is not actually doing a backup, I would not have bought it!

-Noel

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On 9/22/2019 at 9:05 AM, NoelC said:

Running processes - handy services or whatever - DO take system resources, however incrementally small they may be.  They add up.

I'm a long-time software engineer.  I've consistently built Windows workstations over my career that do more work than the average system - a LOT more.

I have a old circa 2013 Dell Precision T5500 workstation right now that I use for engineering work (the one on which I've installed Retrospect, above and on which am typing this) and it is just as responsive and can do software builds just as fast as a brand new (expensive!) 2019 Dell Precision 7820 workstation I have just purchased with MUCH better hardware all around that I have not yet trimmed and tweaked for best performance.  Xeon Westmere vs. Xeon Scalable Gold cores, SATA III SSD vs. m.2 NVMe, half the RAM speed vs. double - yet all the bloat and extra "handy" stuff installed in Win 10 on the new system (150+ processes to support an empty desktop!?!, OMG!) soaks up EVERY BIT of that newer, more powerful technology.  My old workstation is lean and mean (42 processes to support an empty desktop, without any extraneous software running) - yet it is still general purpose for MY needs and supports my needs every bit as well.  Plus it's more reliable.

No argument on "more reliable" ;)... I'm "old school" as well.

However, something is seriously wrong if your new system, with several times the "disk" throughput (m.2 NVMe does multiple GB/sec) is not seriously quicker.

  • If your SW builds didn't radically improve, something is simply wrong.
  • The most common performance killer I've seen, by far, is to have a crazy number of temp files. Or a crazy number of files in ANY important folder. Get more than 1-2,000 files in the temp folder and you will seriously feel it. (Free version of CCleaner handles this and more quite nicely. Yes, there's a built in tool that kinda-sorta gets there but not as comprehensively...)
  • Next thing: check Windows Disk Write Caching (assuming you have a UPS attached)... that makes a huge difference, particularly for SSD (seek time is zero, but you want directory info updates cached...)
  • I would suggest SysInternals Process Explorer to examine what's eating up your performance... possibly combined with SMARTmonTools / smartctl (or HDD Sentinel Pro) if a drive isn't giving you what it should.

I'm sitting at two computers right now:

  • My 2012 "mainframe", (i7-3930k, 32GB, gobs of SSD including a RAID0 pair used for high speed video capture)
  • 2019 Surface Pro 6 (i5-8350U, 8GB RAM, PCIe SSD 0.9-1.4GB/sec)

Except for certain functions (video processing), the newer computer is noticably quicker. Just for example:

  • My Surface Pro can cold boot to login prompt in about ten seconds. Not even close on the older computer.
  • In general, nothing takes a long time. All software starts more or less immediately unless it has a TON of preprocessing to do.

YES, lots of processes. But a few things about modern architecture make the overhead pretty much negligible these days. Multicore+incredibly fast context switching means those extra processes use VERY little CPU. As in: I have 193 processes "running" on my Surface right now. CPU usage: 2-3 percent. And I've done literally zip to make it more efficient... in fact, I've got several security and convenience apps running.

 

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Thanks - I really appreciate sage advice from someone else with skills - but I have tuned all the things you have mentioned. 

Remember, my old system is highly tuned as well, with a bank of 8 SSDs in RAID as well as a pair of top-end (for 2012) x5690 Xeons.

Maximum serial disk throughput on my old workstation, as measured by ATTO is 1.7 GB/second, with 4K I/Os clocking in at about 120 MB/second. Max serial throughput on my new workstation is 11 GB/second (!!) with 4K I/Os at about 300 MB/second.  Memory is much faster, core speed is incrementally faster (Xeons haven't advanced as much as you might guess).  You'd *THINK* it should be able to crunch through work noticeably faster.

I have used many tuning tools on many occasions, Process Explorer amongst them and also including Process Hacker, Resource Monitor, Performance Monitor, etc. etc. I have even swapped OSs on the same hardware.  Each time what I have had to conclude is what's eating up performance is Windows 10.  It does everything measurably less efficiently than a well-tuned older OS.  Beyond that general statement I can also tell you now that v1903 does things less efficiently than v1809.

There are a few discrete things that my new system does measurably more quickly - like individual benchmarks - but overall it just doesn't come off feeling faster or more responsive to use.  Photoshop and Visual Studio, for example, take equally long to cold-start on each system.  THAT is almost unbelievable!  But is precisely the kind of thing that matters when you're trying to keep your mind on your work, and not get frustrated by the system not keeping up.

One of the main problems with Windows 10 is that it's nearly impossible to eliminate and keep eliminated the overhead of the nearly endless things Microsoft wants us using.  Sure, you can hack away for months and get Windows 10 down to where it'll be running as few as 90 processes to support an empty desktop - I've done it - yet the next version comes along and they reinstall all the crapware.  Last thing in the world I want is Xbox components or Live Tiles in a Start menu I don't use, yet there they are.  Last thing in the world I need is all their paranoia "security-ware" and LUA (excuse me, "UAC") in place ostensibly to block Bluekeep this and Meltdown and Spectre that but lo and behold I find it just blocks my work and my performance suffers yet again because of their Marketing FUD engine (don't look now, but security is no longer about protecting people's digital safety; it's about manipulating users into buying new things).

I simply do not have enough time to tune Windows 10 for months on end to get it to be as efficient as possible, only to have all the junkware just return at the next in-place upgrade every 6 months.

Conclusion:  Windows 10 is FAR more bloated than any of its predecessors ever dreamed of being - on purpose, and you can't practically fix it - and this affects usability markedly!

I can always learn more, but having been doing operating system work since the years of mainframes and punch cards, I'd like to assure you I'm working at a high level and know what I'm saying here.

-Noel

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Noel

I more than sympathize with your issues with Win 10, especially about the upgrades that restore all the crap you have removed.  If you do not already know about this forum, it is a great resource.  www.tenforums.com.  There are many very smart and experienced people there.  They may be able to advise about tools that allow you to customize a Windows install file.

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