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Malcolm McLeary

iOS App Compatibility with Retrospect v17

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Is there a definitive statement of the compatibility of Retrospect for iOS?  All the information I have found is quite dated.

Appears to be working with v17 for MacOS but currently not working with v17 for Windows, although it did for a couple of connections but now just “Connecting …”.  Same thing on my iPad.  Have tried with both a local server and an offsite server ... appropriate firewall rules have been implemented.

Perhaps its confused that I’ve asked it to talk to 1 x MacOS backup server and 2 x Windows backup servers concurrently.  The UI supports adding multiple servers so I expected this to work.

Also, are the details of the API the iOS App uses documented somewhere?   Is it https based but using port 22024?  If it is a standard http based API I’d like to build my own “Management Console” with FileMaker (as the existing Retrospect Management Console is less than satisfactory).  I could then have my server "checkin" with various backup servers and present consolidated stats reports.

Wait … I have an old copy of v16.6 Solo running on a Microsoft Surface … it works with the iOS App!  Does this mean Retrospect broke v17 for Windows.  Scratch that ... v16.6 for Windows is unreliable as well ... works once, but then gets listed in Pending as "Connecting ..." but doesn't ... even after a reboot.

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The Web Hooks documentation may be what I'm looking for with respect to API documentation.

https://github.com/retrospectinc/datahooks

but it refers to v15 ... is it still supported in v17 (and beyond)?

If the iOS App leverages web hooks in order to do its thing, the the answer is probably Yes for MacOS but No for Windows.

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Malcolm McLeary,

File a Support Case; I'll see that it gets to the attention of Tech Support in California (end of first paragraph in that post in another thread).

FYI Retrospect for iOS was originally developed as a "hack" (in the original good sense) by Retrospect engineer Brian Dunagan (now V.P. Product Management) in his spare time.  After it was made official around 2014, it wasn't updated until 2017If it originally used "script hooks"—as opposed to "data hooks", those were officially available in 2016 for Retrospect Windows—which is probably what Retrospect for iOS was developed for.

 

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Malcolm McLeary,

Is it possible this is the result of a Windows 10 "improvement" in an updater to its "2004" version?  A lot of Ars Technica Windows forum posters have been plagued with such things.  Can you—or another administrator—access a Retrospect 17 "backup server" installed on a Windows Vista/7/8 machine?

BTW you said in a post in another thread:

Quote

Perhaps I should forget about this little misadventure back to Retrospect and stick with Synology based options.

If you're talking about Synology Hyper Backup, AFAICT that only backs up individual files from Synology NASes—not from "endpoint" computers.

Also, in another post in that other thread you praised the quality of a Linux Developer Preview of FileMaker Server 19.  As I'm sure you're aware, FileMaker Inc. happens to be a subsidiary of Apple, so it surely doesn't lack for money to pay alpha-testers—which is probably still tight at Retrospect "Inc.".

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David,

Thanks for the feedback.  I have logged a Support Case ... would like to provide the Case No but nothing gets listed in my Portal even though I get an acknowledgement email and a link (which just gets me to the login screen).

Shouldn't really discuss competing products, however I use Hyper Backup to backup the Synology itself.  The product I haven't mentioned is "Active Backup for Business" ...

https://www.synology.com/en-au/dsm/feature/active_backup_business

If a Drobo NAS was to have Retrospect integrated, then I'd see this as a product the marketing boys would want to benchmark against.

I'm actively looking at Retrospect again because it does have advantages over the competition.  Its just unfortunate that some capabilities I'd like to be able to leverage are incomplete.  The iOS App for example would give local staff visibility of status without having to physically access the backup server.  Similarly with the Retrospect Management Console as its also at arms length of the backup server.  It would be nice for both to have "read only" access just for monitoring.

The FileMaker Server 19 for Linux Developer Preview does have the advantage in that its been running on CentOS at AWS for several years so the base is solid, its just that now they have made it available for on premise installation there are lots of new variables to be concerned about and there are some differences between the Cloud option and on premise so capabilities are being added such that it is feature equivalent to the MacOS/Windows versions.  Hardware is probably the biggest variable, I'm testing various VMs which are themselves hosted on various NAS platforms including Synology and FreeNAS, while others are going down the Docker path.  Many new deployments to the previous AWS only. Although Claris is owned by Apple they are a separate business unit and expected to perform as if independent.  To a degree Claris (aka FileMaker) is similar to Retrospect in that both started doing a Mac only product then diversified as the Windows market was bigger.  A big difference is that FileMaker for Windows looks and behaves the same as FileMaker for MacOS.  There are some platform specific differences, but by and large they are the same product.  Claris at one stage managed many products but then became FileMaker Inc with only 1 product.  Recently reborn as Claris (again) with the opportunity to expand the product portfolio.  Occasionally Apple tosses them a curve ball like "Claris Connect" where the parent bought a capability and assigned it to Claris to make it work.  Claris Connect is not about FileMaker its about connecting a diverse range of apps via APIs.  Where Retrospect can with some effort talk to Slack, Claris Connect promises to make this much easier to do and not be limited to just Slack ... basically anything in the ecosystem.  Currently my biggest issue is cost and the fact that it relies on US Hosts.

No doubt Retrospect has staffing challenges with respect to dev/test, which is why I believe they are making it harder than it needs to be by supporting legacy platforms.  Ok ... they can't drop support completely, but I think the client is where legacy support should be focused.  Customers don't have to upgrade their entire fleet of workstations/servers if they don't want to, they just need to maintain the "backup server" if they want to run the latest release and in return Retrospect just need to focus on Retrospect for Windows working on currently supported OSes (which in turn only runs on supported hardware) and legacy support is available by ensuring the various platform clients work with the current version of Retrospect.

Just looked at the 3 Windows 10 "backup servers" I'm working with and they are all Windows 10 Release 1909.  All three are fully patched and say they are waiting for 2004.  I don't run Retrospect on any Windows Server machines directly.  They are also fully patched and all running 2019.  Don't have any Vista/7/8 machines at all.  I'd have to create a VM to test that and I don't have any motivation to go there.

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Malcolm McLeary,

Disclaimer: Anything I may say about the intentions of Retrospect "Inc." in this or any other post is merely the result of "reading the tea leaves", the "tea leaves" being documentation and public announcements supplemented by an occasional morsel from Retrospect Sales.  I have never been paid a cent by Retrospect "Inc." or its predecessors, and I pay for my upgrades. Any judgements expressed are—obviously—mine alone. The same is true of Retrospect's history, especially here.

My guess is that you do have two Support Cases on Retrospect "Inc."'s system; it's just that you're confused by that somewhat-perverted system.  IMHO the perversion is a result of Retrospect Inc.'s long-ago marketing decisions, which include not allowing an ordinary customer to view any Cases except his/her own.  The e-mail they send you for each submitted Case contain a link to the Portal and a case number.  You have to click the link and then click the itty-bitty "Log in" item on the right.  Since the system knows from the link who you are, you then merely have to click a larger Sign In button to be presented with the main Portal Dashboard.  That Dashboard was designed to also offer you several other sales-oriented options, so you have to click its Support button to be taken to a page having a single-line listing of each Support Ticket you've ever submitted—in inverse sequence by date-submitted.   Unless you want to click the Number for your very-latest Case, you may then have to use the Ticket Number on the e-mail to aid you in finding the one you want to look at.  Each Case is organized in latest-note-first sequence, so your original Problem Description is at the bottom.  That Description and each Additional Note is limited to about 2000 characters, with automatic creation of Additional Notes if you exceed the limit.

The Retrospect for iOS app is read-only, except for a Pause/Unpause/Stop button added a few years later for use if the iOS app reveals an imminent backup problem.  The Retrospect Management Console is read-only if you don't buy the Management Console Add-On, but AFAICT (only Partners get to see whatever documentation exists for that Console) you can't restrict a particular user of the Management Console to read-only.  I'm sorry my Windows 10 release "2004" hypothesis isn't correct; maybe there's now a bug in some underlying code for Retrospect Windows 17—other administrators already spotted an annoying debugging display inadvertently left in the Proactive "AI" code for the evidently-hurried 17.0.0 initial release.

Thank you for bringing Synology's ABfB application to my attention; it explains the competitive reason for StorCentric's buying Retrospect Inc..  For (well-founded) fear of triggering deletion of my post(s) by the head of Retrospect Tech Support, I don't want to discuss Synology's backup products any further on these Forums.  However solely in this post I will use them to "read the tea leaves" about what StorCentric must be trying to develop—a competitor for both ABfB and Hyper Backup:

ABfB has the built-in capability of backing up virtual machines; Retrospect used to have that capability as an Add-On, but moved it to the separate R. V. product a couple of years ago (I'm not permitted to mention the full name of R. V. on these Forums; IMHO that prohibition is part of the Partner-oriented "go big or go home " strategy).   Another administrator suggested that R. V. was developed under the management of someone other than a Walnut Creek CA-based engineer; if so, it would be difficult to merge that product into the ordinary Retrospect product.  However the Retrospect Management Console can monitor and control both products.

AFAICT ABfB doesn't have a non-Management Console, and Hyper Backup has a simplified Web-based Synology Drive Client.  The Retrospect non-Management Console Preview may only be for exhibiting the proposed GUI for a simplified Web-based Retrospect Web Console, but it's not clear how that could be used for an installation using solely Windows-based "backup servers" without using Heroku as the webserver.  That may be satisfactory if the problem you experienced with the Management Console is due solely to a bug in version 17, except that Retrospect "Inc." has a U.S. military customer that Sales says is using Retrospect Mac because its LAN-only Console  avoids security problems by not using the Web.

Neither ABfB nor Hyper Backup can back up Macintosh computers; that IMHO is what the second 'B' in ABfB emphasizes—"Business".  It is worth noting that the competing client-server backup applications NB and BE used to have Mac "agent" or "client" programs, but dropped those at least two years ago.

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David,

Full circle, and back to where I started.  Retrospect is attractive because the clients are treated equally (MacOS, Windows and Linux).  I've been in the "wilderness" and although Synology does have a neat solution it conveniently overlooks MacOS ... however that's a trend because Apple provide TimeMachine so many vendors just provide a TimeCapsule compatible service.  It works, but that is not what I want.  As an alternative to TimeMachine, Synology also provides Synology Drive which is sort of an on premise version of DropBox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, etc but with the ability to schedule backup tasks.  Its a client but more active, however I'd prefer to have centralised management ... hence Retrospect.  I also tend to use CCC rather than TimeMachine.

Web (or browser) based management (e.g. Retrospect Management Console) doesn't necessarily mean in the cloud.  Sure it is now, but I'm suggesting that it should be able to be hosted anywhere ... localhost, separate host or cloud service.  Just like when you leverage Cloud backups (e.g Amazon S3) you need to provide a "Path" which starts with the FQDN of the server it should be possible for "Management Preferences" to include the FQDN of a Management Console as a variable and not just be hard coded to "console.retrospect.com".  FreeNAS includes S3 as a built in service (based on MinIO) ... just turn it on ... so instead of an Amazon FQDN I can simply enter the the FQDN of my server (which may be onsite, different building or offsite).

Does a Drobo NAS include S3 as a service or does it just do SMB, AFP, and NFS?

Anyway back to Retrospect for iOS ... it works over port 22024 which may or may not use SSL and it may or may not be http based (but it should).  If it was http based you could put a reverse proxy in front of it and hence not have to open a hole in the firewall for it to work.  The listener on port 22024 appears to be passive in that the iOS App sends it commands for it to respond with details or do something.  Sounds like the basis for a Management Console to me.  The actual Retrospect Management Console (hosted) receives https traffic from Retrospect for MacOS and Retrospect for Windows.  Presumably it queues up commands and managed machines poll the queue periodically as it works without inbound firewall adjustments.

So fundamentally the architecture I desire is where the Retrospect "engine" runs as a faceless background service and listens on port 22024 (as it does today) for commands from the iOS App.  The Retrospect Management Console listens on a different port (could be https 443 as it does today) but is essentially a custom web server such that a browser on local host or a remote host can access it.  It could get its details from the "engine" by sending commands to port 22024 (just like the iOS App does).  The "engine" could actively send the "console" status details as it does now but not hard coded to "console.retrospect.com" ... it could be localhost or a specified host.  The existing Retrospect for Windows UI could be retained for local management if desired/required by abstracting the UI such that it communicates with the "engine" via the same mechanisms as the Remote Management Console (and doesn't need to be left running).

Is there precedence for this?  Sure ... just look at FileMaker Server.  Its comprised of multiple faceless background services which are task specific.  The clients (i.e. FileMaker Pro for MacOS/Windows) and FileMaker Go (for iPhone and iPad) access hosted databases on port 5003.  Web clients can access hosted databases on port 80/443 as there is a service which actively (on the fly) converts layouts into html/css/javascript and talks to the database engine on behalf of the clients.  There is also ODBC access on port 2399.  The Administration Console can be accessed either from localhost or a workstation via a browser on port 16000.  A very different port is used here such that it can be easily firewalled if you want to limit access.  Customised access is possible via two published APIs ... the Data API and the Admin API ... both are accessible via 80/443 such that "anyone" can build their own app be it for accessing a hosted database or to monitor/manage the server.  Further you can leverage Zabbix to monitor/manage the whole host and even manage FMS by scripting its CLI.  For scaleability you can add additional "worker" machines which essentially just run the webdirect service such that web clients are offloaded from the "master" machine.  Each of these "worker" machines handle the browser client interaction and communicate with the database engine on their behalf.

Sounds like a lot of moving parts, but having multiple moving parts is much better than a monolithic application which requires a "Desktop Experience" to run because a given part can fail and be restarted without impacting the whole.  You can even have a "helper" service which checks that all the services are running and restart them if necessary.  Further ... moving from a "Desktop Experience" to say CentOS (without GUI) or a NAS (without screen, keyboard or mouse) is straight forward because none of the services depend on a GUI ... you don't even need a GPU.

Although Retrospect for iOS is listed with the rest of the downloads for Retrospect for Windows v17 it hasn't been updated since 2017 and the documentation only mentions "partial" support for Retrospect for Windows 7.7.  Perhaps the documentation has never been updated.  Perhaps it did work with Retrospect for Windows in 2017, but 3 years later it appears that "partial" is now "broken".  Is it unreasonable to expect that if if its listed with v17 it should work with v17?

Tech Support Advice ... check port 497 is open.

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Everyone except Malcolm McLeary,

First read this post in the ongoing Retrospect Management Console thread; I'm sure Malcolm McLeary already has.  It is necessary background for this post, and I'm not going to repeat that background.

Malcolm McLeary,

(The disclaimer at the top of this up-thread post applies here.)

According to this reseller article, "The simple addition of a VM into the existing infrastructure is all that is needed to connect [Drobo iSCSI SAN storage] to Amazon S3."  Another blogger says she uses a non-client-server backup application—which I'll here call A because it's a competitor to Retrospect Solo Edition—to backup her Drobo 5N NAS to Amazon Glacier.

In regard to the second part of your immediately-above post, how do you actually know that the Retrospect Windows Engine initially listens on port 22024?  As the next-to-last paragraph of the post I linked to at the top of this post says, the Retrospect Mac Engine listens to the Retrospect Mac LAN Console, but AFAIK Windows UAC made this impossible for the Retrospect Windows Engine.  If it weren't impossible, the Retrospect engineers would have implemented an instantly-updating-the-Engine Retrospect Windows LAN Console years ago.

Another reason I have for doubting initial listening on port 22024 is in this section of the Knowledge Base article on Retrospect's Remote Backup feature.  As I explained in the first three paragraphs of this post in a Retrospect Mac 9+ thread, the Engine initially listens on port 497 when doing Remote Backup—because it can't poll a Remote "client"—as it can for a "client" defined with Using Multicast or Using Subnet or Add Source Directly (Direct Access on Retrospect Windows)—whose IP address it cannot know.    But the KB article says "With this networking change [fowarding ports 497 and 22024 to the machine running the Engine], a remote computer running Retrospect will be able to make a connection to the Retrospect engine, even though the computer running the Retrospect engine is running on the internal network."  The same KB article says port 22024 is used for Remote Backup on-demand backup/restore requests.  Maybe that's also true for non-Remote Backup on-demand backup/restore requests, in which case my hypothesis in the Management Console post is wrong and your hypothesis in the immediately-above post in this thread is correct. 

Why don't you settle this by asking the question about Engine initial listening on port 22024 as an Additional Note in one of your Support Cases?

In regard to the last three paragraphs of your immediately-above post, first note that applications running on Heroku are likely written in Node.js or Ruby.   What makes you think that the Retrospect Management Console could be easily converted—as opposed to being totally rewritten—to a faceless service running on something other than Heroku?  And how about Retrospect for iOS, which unquestionably uses iOS facilities?

Second, I simply don't understand how doing such conversions would help the experience of a typical Retrospect administrator.  As proven by the fact that you are the first to report problems with the Management Console, and by the fact that that there have been so far 432 views but no replies to my OP question in this Retrospect for iOS thread, typical Retrospect administrators simply aren't using those two apps.  IMHO the Retrospect "Inc." engineers are making much better use of their time by developing Console replacement(s)—which will reportedly be Web-based—for the Retrospect Windows GUI.

 

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David,

Realistically Retrospect does a great job performing backups to S3.  What I was asking was if Drobo provides an S3 Compatible service ... can it be used as a "private" S3 Target.  That is what I can do with FreeNAS as it has MinIO built in.  Various Retrospect KB discuss installing MinIO on platforms so as to use them as an alternative to Amazon S3.

Does Retrospect for Windows v17 listen on port 22024 ... yes it does ... just do a port scan and it will respond.   Retrospect for iOS uses this port to connect to the MacOS engine and will also connect to the Windows version and work, but but then it breaks.  According to Tech Support the API behind port 22024 has been changing since v7.7 but Retrospect for iOS hasn't been updated since 2017 and in fact hasn't been tested against later versions ... although its listed with the v17 downloads and is included in the v17 User Guide.  See page 486 of the Retrospect for Windows v17 Users Guide.

UAC really has nothing to do with a given service listening on a given port ... what the service then tries to do may cause "conflicts".

The backup engine does not listen on port 497 ... do a port scan and see.  497 is the port the client listens on. The backup engine listens on port 22024.

For remote backups to work the client can't simply broadcast its existence ... it needs to "call out" to the "backup server" at its IP address or FQDN on 22024 and then wait for the "backup server" to call back on port 497 (just as it does a LAN after discovery).  Clearly the remote user will need to have port 497 port forwarded through their firewall.

Node.js and Ruby are very common coding languages and supported an MacOS, Windows and Linux.  The programming language is not really the issue ... its more about accessing the API behind the listening port.  The API should be based on industry standards rather than some in-house propriety protocol.

I'd suggest very few Administrators are using Retrospect for iOS or the new Retrospect Management Console.  Retrospect for iOS may work for MacOS installs, but Retrospect changed the API in the Windows versions so its now broken.  Retrospect Managements Console is most likely the future but it has issues. I've come back from the "wilderness" and have higher expectations based on experience with other products ... not backup related ... see what Ubiquiti is doing with monitoring/management of their network infrastructure.  They have iOS and Android apps, web based consoles which can be cloud or locally installed plus CLI on most devices.  My biggest beef with Retrospect for Windows is that it still requires a "Desktop Experience" to operate and that prevents it from being taken seriously in any environment larger than home users or small business.

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Malcolm McLeary, 

(The disclaimer at the top of this up-thread post applies here.)

It wasn't clear to me from your up-thread post that "Does a Drobo NAS include S3 as a service ... ?" meant "Does a Drobo NAS have an S3 interface?"   I don't know anything about Drobo-provided software, but my Google search indicates it doesn't—at least for interfacing with MiniO and Basho.  That's surely another reason why StorCentric acquired Retrospect Inc., though S.Reitshamer's non-client-server backup app (I'll call it A) has an S3 interface.

Thanks for doing a port scan, which shoots down my hypothesis that the Retrospect Engine doesn't initially listen on port 22024.  That leaves me with only a purely marketing explanation for the puzzling fact that Retrospect Inc. has never implemented a Retrospect Windows LAN Console equivalent to the Retrospect Mac LAN Console, resulting in what you refer to as the "Desktop Experience". 

That explanation revolves around the maxim that, paraphrasing H.L. Mencken, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the flexibility of some backup administrators."  The first implication of that maxim is that many Retrospect Windows administrators are still wedded to Auto Launching, despite the suffering described in this Knowledge Base article; a basic element of that suffering is that Windows UAC would prohibit a LAN Console interfacing with the Engine when the Engine is Auto Launched.  The engineers eventually came up with the built-in Dashboard as a partial work-around, but this and its linked-to threads say how unsatisfactory it is.  The second implication is the consternation experienced by many Retrospect Mac administrators over the drastic simplifying UI change in Retrospect Mac 8.  Not only did the terminology change, but the separate Immediate mode was eliminated—meaning an administrator had to define a (schedule-less?) script before hitting the Run button. 🙄  I guess Retrospect Inc. Product Management feared a backlash of Auto-Launch insistence and UI-change consternation from inflexible Retrospect Windows administrators, and therefore never introduced a LAN Console.

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Sorry for the confusion over "Does a Drobo NAS include S3 as a service ... ?" ... I was using the same terminology as is used on a FreeNAS box.

There are Knowledge Base articles which describe how to use Docker to run MinIO on Synology or QNAP ... not seen anything regarding Drobo.  It would be good if it was builtin just like it is in FreeNAS.

Anyway ... I don't take anything Marketing says for granted until I've actually seen/experienced it.

"Marketing" would have you believe that Retrospect for iOS works with Retrospect for Windows v17 because there is a download link with all the other v17 downloads and its covered in the v17 Users Guide.

Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 1.13.10 pm.png

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