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amkassir

Using Retrospect with Catalina volume structures

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Now that Catalina is out, I understand the installation creates separate volumes for system files and other data. If I am correct, these volumes are connected as members of a Group, within an APFS Container. The System volume is read-only.

I have questions about how Retrospect 16.5 will function with this new scheme.

Backing up

Since these are 2 volumes (appearing as one to the user), will selecting Macintosh HD as the backup source include all System and Data files?

Restoring

Secondly, I wonder if and how Retrospect can completely restore a Catalina installation. More specifically:

1. If the restore is being made to a completely empty drive, will Retrospect create the necessary "read-only" System and "read/write" Data volumes and restore the appropriate data to each volume? Will it also create a Recovery partition?

2. If the restore is being made over an existing Catalina installation, is Retrospect able to restore system files to the "read-only" System volume?

Thanks for any information you can offer!

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amkassir,

See "Version 16.5 Required" in this Knowledge Base article, and the macOS Mojave – Application Data Privacy KB article it links to.  However I don't think those will answer your all questions; you'd better phone Retrospect Tech Support, and please post what you've found out—including when the august Documentation Committee is going to update that first KB article.

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Here is the response from Support:

Quote

 

Just like in the finder, you only really see one volume.  You will back up the Macintosh HD and Retrospect will handle the rest. Please make sure you have reviewed the Catalina support document at https://www.retrospect.com/en/support/kb/macos_catalina_support
 
Restores are a lot more complicated and it isn't possible to perform a single restore operation for the complete Macintosh HD.  We are working on a detailed document providing directions for doing a Catalina Disaster Recovery operation.   The directions do involve reinstalling the Mac OS and restoring the User's folder over the installed operating system. 

 

 

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The problem with just letting Retrospect "handle the rest" is that it will now backup /System/Volumes/Data/Volumes/<all external drives>. That's just wrong and should not happen. Suddenly my full boot volume backup went from 850G to 1.3T because it's also backing up an external drive that I backup in a different set, AND the external drive I used to backup TO.

Until they fix this in Retrospect, I'm going to have to mark /System/Volumes/Data/Volumes with my No Backup label so Retrospect will skip it for now.

I'll submit a ticket for this, because it needs to be fixed.

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And setting the "No backup" label on /System/Volumes/Data/Volumes AND each of the external volumes in that folder isn't working. They still get backed up. Great.

It's also hard to tell if the correct label is being inspected by Retrospect, since they call it Gray in the Rules editor, even though I've renamed it to "No backup", and there is still a label named Gray that uses the same color.

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sjmills,

Assuming your problem is with a "client" machine, what is your "Volumes" dropdown setting on the Sources -> Options tab for that machine?  When re-Adding my MacBook Pro as a "client", I have the problem that that dropdown defaults to All Volumes—and for a couple of macOS releases that has included some garbage-named mirror volume.  I have to remember to change the dropdown to Startup Volume.  If I had an external  volume cabled to my MBP,  which I did during one re-Add, the default would include that also.

OTOH this may be due to Retrospect not having been fixed to compensate for a change in macOS.  I submitted a Support Request for the problem described in the paragraph above, and Tech Support merely told me to change the dropdown.

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The boot volume I'm backing up is on the same machine that Retrospect runs on, so it's not a client. But if I select that boot volume in the Sources, the Options tab is all disabled, then yes, All Volumes is selected.

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2 hours ago, sjmills said:

The boot volume I'm backing up is on the same machine that Retrospect runs on, so it's not a client. But if I select that boot volume in the Sources, the Options tab is all disabled, then yes, All Volumes is selected.

sjmills,

My "backup server" is booting macOS 10.12 Sierra, and it's running Retrospect Mac 16.1.  All other bootable  local drives would boot under macOS 10.12 or OS X 10.6.  When I click the Sources entry for one of my local drives, I can click the Options Tab, but everything on that dialog is grayed-out.  That makes sense for the checkboxes above "Volumes", since they have to do with options that apply to machines being backed up with a Retrospect Client application.  Greying-out also used to make sense for the "Volumes" section of the dialog, but with "improvements" in macOS it no longer does.  IMHO the dropdown should now default to Startup Volume if the local volume is bootable, with the boot volume automatically checkmarked.

So  here's why and how to file a Support Case, in the event you don't already know.  Another example of great beta testing by Retrospect "Inc.".🙄

 

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I filed a bug, then I uninstalled and deleted all Retrospect files from my machine after attempting to try 16.5, but was greeted with a stupid Try button that took me to a web page to fill out a form just so I could download it again and get a trial code. No thanks, I'm finished with Retrospect and it's bugs, bad design, and horrendous performance when browsing backups.

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All administrators upgrading to macOS 10.15 Catalina,

This Knowledge Base article and this KB article were added on 5 November 2019.  The first of these appears to be a duplicate of this earlier KB article on macOS 10.14 Mojave, with a different URL and minor wording changes; in fact the second article links to that earlier article instead of the first article.

As of 6 November 2019, there haven't been any updates to the Retrospect Mac downloads since 16 October 2019,  Therefore, if a fix to the Retrospect Mac Engine is required because of sjmills' problem, it is still in the future.

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As of today, I'm not able to find the promised "detailed document providing directions for doing a Catalina Disaster Recovery operation" yet. I'm backing up my system but don't exactly know how to restore my Catalina installation. Hopefully this will be coming soon.

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amkassir (and others),

The "promised 'detail document ...'" is no doubt referring to what Retrospect Tech Support replied to you on or before 11 October 2019.  Give the engineers time; this sounds like a tricky Apple-generated problem, and the last sentence of Tech Support's reply at least gives you a hint of what to do if you have to.  My guess—as an outsider—is that the time of at least some engineers is currently being occupied with figuring out how to convert the Retrospect Mac (because it's more Unix-related) Engine to run on a Drobo.

P.S.: It's good to know, per your post directly above, that you can back up your Catalina installation with Retrospect 16.5.  amkassir, do you or did you have external drives cabled to your "backup server" machine—as sjmills does?  If so, why does he have problems that you don't?

P.P.S.: It sounds—per your post directly below—as if the short-term solution, until the "detailed document" is released, is to restore using CCC and then overwrite files with previous versions—if needed—using Retrospect.

 

Edited by DavidHertzberg
P.S.: Good to know that amkassir can backup Catalina, wonder why sjmills can't; P.P.S.: short-term solution is to restore using CCC and then overwrite if needed using Retrospect

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Understood.

In the meantime, I'm counting on Carbon Copy Cloner to restore a Catalina installation more easily than Retrospect might allow, should disaster strike.

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sjmills and everybody else,

I just had a phone conversation with the North America head of Retrospect Sales.  Retrospect "Inc." is coming out with a new bug-fix release of Retrospect Mac in about a week.  The engineers are aware of sjmills' problem; my interpretation is that whoever was implementing "Improved NAS support with auto-adding existing NAS share mounts" in Retrospect Mac 16.5.0 didn't coordinate with whoever was implementing Catalina support.🙄

As for the "promised 'detailed document providing directions for doing a Catalina Disaster Recovery operation'" that amkassir is waiting for, he has no word on that—although I brought it to his attention.

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Has anyone seen the "promised detailed document providing directions for doing a Catalina Disaster Recovery operation'" yet?

I don't feel comfortable relying on Retrospect for my backup needs without knowing how to do a full restore of a Catalina installation. I would hope this information is important for the Retrospect team to impart to users in a timely fashion before disaster strikes!

At present, I'm still using Carbon Copy Cloner, which is very clear on how to perform a restore. I'd prefer to have 2 reliable options (CCC and Retrospect) should disaster strike. Right now I'd be guessing on how to perform a restore using Retrospect. If I have to do a de novo installation of Catalina over which I'd restore various folders, it seems more cumbersome than CCC, which creates the System, Data, Recovery, and Preboot volumes automatically from scratch at the click of a button. 

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amkassir,

For a number of years Retrospect Inc. has had what I call the "august Documentation Committee", which writes most Knowledge Base articles and does the (shoddy) updating of the User's Guides.  The head of Retrospect Tech Support stated a couple of years ago that he is not permitted to be a member of that committee, which IMHO should be taught in business schools as a classic example of mis-organization (probably resulting from his not being able to buy a share of ownership when the privately-owned Retrospect Inc. was set up in 2011). 

In any case the core of that committee is Retrospect engineers, and from everything I can see as an outsider the engineers are up to their eyeballs in work—both the pre-merger-initiated Web-based Management Console and the long-planned but post-merger-initiated non-Web non-Management Console that will replace the Retrospect Windows and Retrospect Mac GUIs.  IMHO that second project is Mihir Shah's top priority, because it will be necessary to provide an over-the-LAN GUI for his announced effort (fourth paragraph) to produce a "backup server" that will run on a Drobo device —where it can't have a local GUI because a NAS device doesn't have its own monitor and keyboard and mouse.

My suggestion is that Retrospect Mac 17 should add the capability of creating its own Disaster Recovery "Disk", similar to the capability discussed on pages 316-328 of the Retrospect Windows 16 User's Guide.  To get that started, I recommend sending a snail-mail to the StorCentric Chief Technology Officer:

Drobo

    Attn.: Mr. Rod Harrison, CTO

1289 Anvilwood Ave.

Sunnyvale, CA 94089

USA

Rod Harrison may not have any idea what macOS Catalina is and what new challenges it poses for the Retrospect Mac product, so your letter will have to include an explanation.  You can also include a request for the "detailed document", but—for reasons explained in the second paragraph of this post—IMHO you won't be able to get it written.

P.S.: You're "preaching to the choir" in your post directly below this; as a customer Retrospect administrator I totally agree with you.  However StorCentric didn't bail Retrospect Inc. out of an apparent financial crisis (resulting—I assume—from their inability to charge customers using Linux-based NASes the price for beyond-Desktop Editions as if they were still using Server versions of macOS or Windows ) out of the goodness of Mihir Shah's heart.  Shah has said he wants a Retrospect "backup server" running on Drobo devices, and "he who pays the piper calls the tune".  IMHO it would take an engineer more than a day to do experiments for the restore document.  Request the document in your snail-mail letter to Harrison; I'm still on High Sierra, or I'd write one myself.

Edited by DavidHertzberg
P.S.: You're "preaching to the choir" in your post directly below this, but Mihir Shah wants a Retrospect "backup server" running on Drobo devices and IMHO it would take an engineer _more_ than a day to _do_experiments_ for the restore document

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Hello David:

I understand from your post that the engineers are extremely busy. At the same time, I contend that Retrospect's ability to restore from a backup is perhaps the most important function of backup software that should take precedence over any other tasks that are in development. Part of that functionality depends on the user's understanding of the restore procedure since it is not a simple one-step procedure, but requires re-installation of Catalina and other steps. Accordingly, I believe a document providing directions for doing a Catalina Disaster Recovery operation is sorely needed and overdue. Moreover, I hope composing such documentation would not take a single engineer more than a day to complete.

While Retrospect Mac 17 may have new capabilities, what we need now for Retrospect 16.6 is guidance before disaster strikes.

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