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Hang during backup to VXA drive (reproducible)

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Since I've been waiting for a long time for Retrospect to work with my VXA driver under Mac OS X, it's extremely disappointing that the final release version doesn't work as well as the beta.

 

 

 

I'm also disappointed that the release version doesn't work with my setup, even though the beta version did. I bought the final version based on my good experience with the beta. At this point, I wish I could reinstall it as a workaround until this problem is taken care of.

 

 

 

-waveman

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Prompted by Dave laying down the smack about supplying system details... :-)

 

 

 

One of my VXA setups has now done 27 GB without problems. Two full backups, two incrementals. I have not noticed pauses during the backups, but I usually run the backups unattended.

 

 

 

VXA Model VXA-1e

 

Narrow SCSI from VXA unit to MicroTech firewire adaptor (as supplied by Ecrix).

 

Retrospect Desktop 5.0.203.

 

Retrospect Desktop computer is dual 450 MHz G4 running Mac OS X, 10.1.3.

 

One network client on Mac OS 9.

 

 

 

Retrospect says this about the device:

 

ID:FireWire-A, Vendor:Ecrix, Product:VXA-1, Version:2848, Driver:Ecrix VXA DC (4.08)

 

 

 

and Apple System Profiler says this:

 

VXA-1 2848

 

Vendor ID: d016

 

Speed: 200 Mb/sec

 

GUID: 13637120d

 

Vendor name: ECRIX

 

Unit version: 66691

 

 

 

I don't know how to get SCSI to firewire adaptor firmware information?

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Here's my setup that is causing problems:

 

 

 

1. PowerMac G4/400 - 896MB RAM - Dual Display ATI Rage 128 is second PCI card

 

 

 

2. Adaptec 2930U with EPROM/BIOS 4.3

 

 

 

3. MacOS X 10.1.3

 

 

 

4. Tried both 1.0.2 and 1.1.0 Adaptec SCSI drivers and very similar behavior with both.

 

 

 

5. VXA-1 External Drive (SCSI-2) with 2B7B firmware.

 

 

 

6. All versions of Retrospect that I've tried have had these hanging problems, preview 1, and currently 5 and 5.0.203.

 

 

 

7. Have tried disconnecting all devices to the SCSI card except the VXA drive and an internal hard-drive. Connected the VXA drive via a micro-SCSI cable between the card and the drive. MicroSCSI terminator placed on VXA drive. Internal hard-drive ID is 0 and VXA drive is 4.

 

 

 

8. Have no problems with this setup in OS 9 (in fact never had).

 

 

 

9. Have Energy Saver turned off (this may be a clue). When I had it turned on (for just the monitors), after a Retrospect hang happened and the monitor would be in energy saving mode, I could never wake it back up. I could log in via ssh from another machine, but I couldn't kill certain processes and I couldn't even "sudo reboot" (well I could but the only way to reboot it past that was to power down and back up.)

 

 

 

I actually don't think the problem is with Retrospect but with Adaptec's SCSI drivers. The older driver 1.0.2 shows faster backup times. The problem is, I can't get them to respond to me without paying for some technical support. I am willing to get debuggable versions of their drivers and test them and thought Dantz might be more likely to be able to get something from them than I.

 

 

 

NEW INFO to add!

 

I just substituted an Exabyte drive for my VXA drive and guess what. After 19 MB of backup, Retrospect can no longer talk to the Exabyte drive. It has the spinning rotors going but the drive now just has the green light on with no communication going on. I'm pretty sure that the combination of Retrospect, my 2930U (4.3) Adaptec card is not a workable solution. Can anybody recommend a SCSI card that they guarantee to work? Would Dantz like me to ship them this card to test with?

 

 

 

 

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I have been looking at this thread and I too have the same problem.

 

 

 

I’ve been doing quite a bit of testing with several Mac’s (G3 – G4 DP800) (Sys 9.2.2 – 10.1.3) (Retro 4.3 and 5) (SCSI and FireWire). I am convinced that it has nothing to do with SCSI or 9.2.2 it only shows up in the 5.0 release version of Retrospect in Sys X.

 

 

 

I also find it interesting that Dantz pipes in and states that it can’t reproduce the problem. TRY AGAIN!!!

 

 

 

All these people can’t be wrong. There is a problem you (Dantz) need to work on!

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All these people can’t be wrong

 

 

 

Probably not. But I finally have had the opportunity to play with a VXA-1 drive, and it's working well.

 

I was able to scan and backup my entire boot drive, and then do two more complete backups (turning off matching so everything gets written again). Then I did a Recycle backup, erased the tape and did another.

 

 

 

I did notice the pauses every 200 Mb or so.

 

 

 

I went back to the Macworld Preview (14 days left!) and saw slightly faster speeds and no pauses.

 

 

 

At one point I saw what I thought was going to be a hang. What was interesting was that it was on a Japanese language font, and didn't the Preview have some wacky issue with Japanese named files?

 

 

 

But the backup continued, and I saw no other stalls.

 

 

 

The boot drive was a small 6 Gig drive with only stock OS X, Retrospect and a bit of LimeWire shared files.

 

 

 

System configuration I tested:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macintosh:

 

G4/733

 

 

 

Mac OS X 10.1.3 5Q110

 

 

 

VXA-1 (as reported by Retrospect):

 

Version: 2B7B

 

Driver: Ecrix VXA DC (4.08)

 

 

 

SCSI card (as reported by System Profiler):

 

Card type: scsi

 

Card name: ADPT,2930CU

 

Card model: ADPT,1686806-04

 

Card ROM #: 4.3

 

Card revision: 3

 

Card vendor ID: 9004

 

 

 

 

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I've had the same thing several times. With 4.3 and 5.0. One thing I found is that Norton Filesaver files mess things up, but I'm not sure that's the only thing. It doesn't give me much faith in the drive either. I also find using these tapes that the capacity in Retropsect is shown as 1.9GB even though its a 60 gig tape! I'm not really sure who is to blame.

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Dave,

 

 

 

That's odd that you should mention the Japanese font: I've also had one or two backups fail while writing font files.

 

 

 

It would be interesting to know what percentage of people using Retrospect 5 with VXA drives are having problems. Obviously, some people, such as yourself, haven't seen the problems that the rest of us have.

 

 

 

-waveman

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Of course, that could just as easily be said as:

 

"Obviously, some people, such as yourself, have seen a problem that the rest of us don't have. "

 

 

 

By its very nature, a Forum such as this is going to attract users with problems.

 

 

 

It's just gotta be scsi. It's just gotta!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave

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Dave,

 

 

 

I agree that it's gotta be SCSI... let's all keep repeating the mantra until Dantz comes up with something. :)

 

 

 

BTW, what does it take to become a "gold club poster?" Does it qualify you for discounts or other special recognition? :)

 

 

 

-waveman (a lowly casual poster)

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On my second VXA setup I am getting hangs and stalls during client backups, but perhaps not the same problem others are seeing here. My problem most often occurs before Retrospect shows any files being copied from the client. This might be when Retrospect starts positioning the tape or while communicating with the client, I am not sure yet. Sometimes Retrospect is still responding although has achieved nothing in over 12 hours, sometimes it is burning CPU and must be killed. Each time so far it has been a Mac OS 9 client, although I have had a few clueless crashes, and a couple of hardware errors to muddy the waters too. I have managed to backup about 130 GB so far, but about every second night something goes wrong, and I am still trying to identify the points of failure.

 

 

 

Running Retrospect Server 5.0.203 on 466 MHz G4 running Mac OS X 10.1.3.

 

Adaptec 2930U 50-pin SCSI card, 1.1 driver.

 

VAX-1e SCSI drive, Retrospect reports Ecrix VXA-1 Version 2959, Ecrix VXA DC (4.08)

 

Backing up 40 clients,

 

including Mac OS 9, (5.0.201 clients)

 

X, X Server, (5.0.528 clients)

 

Windows 98 SE, 2000, XP (5.0.112 clients)

 

 

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This thread seems to be dying from inattention. I and the other posters (Dantz customers, I have to point out) would like to know if our problem is at least being looked into.

 

 

 

-waveman

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I bought a VXA-1 external firewire drive and retrospect 5 earlier this week. It works perfectly backing up and restoring for my OS 10.13 Server along with several other Servers and workstations set up as clients. Since the only major difference between my setup and the setup described by most of the people with problems is the SCSI interface compared to Firewire I would look into whether that has something to do with causing the problem.

 

 

 

 

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I bought a VXA-1 external firewire drive and retrospect 5 earlier this week. It works perfectly backing up and restoring for my OS 10.13 Server along with several other Servers and workstations set up as clients. Since the only major difference between my setup and the setup described by most of the people with problems is the SCSI interface compared to Firewire I would look into whether that has something to do with causing the problem.

 

 

 

I suspect that you're right in saying that the problem is with SCSI, whether it's at the driver level or in the app. However, beyond basic troubleshooting, there's little that we users can do without some help from Dantz.

 

 

 

-waveman

 

 

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I have a G4/500 w/ SCSI and my VXA works like a charm with the new Retrospect. In fact, I had to restore my "Stickies" file after installing 10.1.4. :) My first restore, worked flawlessly.

 

 

 

MacD

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Im not in front of it now... it was whatever came from Apple as a custom built system in late 1999 or early 2000.

 

 

 

MacD

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It would seem that the prevailing common thread amongst those having problems is Adaptec. Although Adaptec worked just fine (for the most part) in <9.x, the cards are notorious for causing problems under X. Until these problems get fixed, I've been recommending replacing them with ATTO cards. Blame it on Adaptec, blame it on Apple, but don't blame it on Dantz. These Adaptec cards are causing trouble in more places than just backups.

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It would seem that the prevailing common thread amongst those having problems is Adaptec. Although Adaptec worked just fine (for the most part) in <9.x, the cards are notorious for causing problems under X. Until these problems get fixed, I've been recommending replacing them with ATTO cards. Blame it on Adaptec, blame it on Apple, but don't blame it on Dantz. These Adaptec cards are causing trouble in more places than just backups.

 

 

 

 

I don't dispute the possibility that Adaptec's cards or their drivers are at fault. However, my card is on the "supported" list. Although I know this doesn't guarantee compatibility, we end users need to know what hardware combinations have been tested and can be expected to work. Otherwise, it's a hit-or-miss proposition. It's not too much to expect some guidance from Dantz in this regard.

 

 

 

Replacing my 2906 with an ATTO SCSI card might do the trick, but it's a fairly expensive solution. I'd sure like to find an alternative to spending another few hundred dollars.

 

 

 

-waveman

 

 

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My Retrospect keeps losing the ability to find my Firewire VXA-1. It works fine for initial backup and sometimes for the incremental backup done at night, but then inexplicable loses connection with the drive. Happens on two different systems running Desktop and Workgroup respectively. Two different types of CPU's (iMac and tower G4). Only way to get back to function is to restart. Haven't yet tried logging out and back in.

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What do you mean when you say it "loses connection with the drive?" Specifically, what happens - do you see any error messages? What does the drive do and what do the status lights show?

 

 

 

Thanks!

 

 

 

-waveman

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In response to:

 

 

 

It would seem that the prevailing common thread amongst those having problems is Adaptec. Although Adaptec worked just fine (for the most part) in <9.x, the cards are notorious for causing problems under X. Until these problems get fixed, I've been recommending replacing them with ATTO cards.(snip)

 

 

 

I happen to have an ATTO card and a VXA-1 wide SCSI drive, with all of the latest updates, save 10.1.4, which will probably go on today (it seems to have an updated ATTO driver). My setup does not hang with Retrospect. But it does go through an annoying pause, backspace and resume phase every 200 MB during a backup. Everything seems to be fine, except the transfer rates are now about 105 MB/s, whereas with 4.3 and 5.0 Preview, I saw 180+ MB/s and no pausing.

 

 

 

Reading the other posts carefully, there are people who have seen hangs with both Adaptec and Firewire interfaces. The hangs seem to often, if not always, occur during/following this pause syndrome. There may be problems with Adaptec boards, but very similar problems are seen on some Firewire systems, and a possibly related symptom is seen on at least my ATTO system.

 

 

 

Because my ATTO system doesn't crash, I likely would not have noticed the pause phenomenon, but I happened to be working on my server during a long backup and got curious why the Retro window kept pausing. Of course I thought it was me first, then some other process I was running, then dirty heads, etc. It took awhile before I started noticing the pattern. Checked the forums and sure enough others were seeing the same thing. But most of them had run into it because their systems were hanging, possibly because of the pausing. The responses from the ATTO owners have mostly been in regard to the hang problem. Do other ATTO users see pauses?

 

 

 

Anyway, while there may be something about Adaptec/Firwwire interfaces that may somehow exacerbate the situation and cause hangs, I think Dantz has to take repsonsibility for the pausing problem, which seems a lot more universal. After all the same rigs worked fine under previous Dantz systems and ran at much higher data rates. I didn't buy a VXA to get just 100 MB/s. Please don't buy an ATTO card with the expectation that you will be home free.

 

 

 

 

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Anyway, while there may be something about Adaptec/Firwwire interfaces that may somehow exacerbate the situation and cause hangs, I think Dantz has to take repsonsibility for the pausing problem, which seems a lot more universal. After all the same rigs worked fine under previous Dantz systems and ran at much higher data rates. I didn't buy a VXA to get just 100 MB/s. Please don't buy an ATTO card with the expectation that you will be home free.

 

 

 

 

I wholeheartedly agree. Even if Retrospect didn't consistently hang during backup, I'd be unhappy about the longer backup times. For now, though, I'd settle for having a working backup, pauses or no.

 

 

 

 

...with all of the latest updates, save 10.1.4

 

 

 

 

I installed 10.1.4 yesterday, but didn't try a backup because it didn't seem like any of the changes would make a difference. But I just read the following from Apple's KB article about the update:

 

 

 

 

"Improves compatibility with certain single- and dual-channel SCSI cards"

 

 

 

 

I'm going to try a backup when I get home tonight and see if 10.1.4 helps.

 

 

 

-waveman

 

 

 

 

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I'm reposting this because of the recent forum problems:

 

 

 

I did 2 backups under 10.1.4... the first worked with only 1 hang, but I had 5 or 6 hangs during the second attempt (to a different tape). Even with the hangs, was possible to do a full backup by rebooting and repairing the catalog each time. Eventually, I had 2 complete backups.

 

 

 

I read a post on MacFixIt claiming that support for one Adaptec SCSI card is built into 10.1.4, and that Adaptec's drivers are no longer needed for that card. I have yet to try this with my 2906.

 

 

 

Finally, I was told by the forum administrator here that the pauses we've all been seeing every 200MB are there by design. I've noticed that hangs sometimes occur during these pauses, but not always.

 

 

 

-waveman

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On my VXA setup connected via an Adaptec 2930 (see earlier posting in this thread for details), I was beginning to despair after getting almost nothing backed up five nights out of six. Retrospect Server hung or stalled twice and did nothing productive overnight, two hardware errors early in night, switched server to another computer but hardware error from tape unit in first five minutes.

 

 

 

I then reconnected the same Ecrix VXA tape drive to the computer using a MicroTech SCIS/firewire adaptor instead of directly via SCSI.

 

 

 

I then ran Retrospect for over 48 hours almost continuously backing up network clients to tape. One apparent hang while I was playing about in the log during a backup, one potential stall when a Net Retry dialog came up. In both cases since I was present, backup was underway again in under five minutes.

 

 

 

It is too early to say for sure that things are really better bypassing the SCSI card, I may just have hit a good patch statistically speaking. As noted earlier however, my problems have not been due to major stalls on 200 MB boundaries, but due to the backup stalling before backing up anything off some clients and some hardware errors. I have not looked at performance yet to see if it has dropped, I am trying to get a backup at all before I worry about the speed!

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Hi,

 

 

 

I'd like to give a bit of information on the problems that people have been seeing with the VXA drive under OS X. There are several distinct problems here.

 

 

 

First, the pause when writing to the VXA drive from the release version of 5.0. This is due to a change in the VXA driver implemented to prevent data loss, and affects all VXA drives regardless of the interface. This Knowledgebase entry contains details:

 

 

 

http://www.dantz.com/index.php3?SCREEN=knowledgebase_article&id=842

 

 

 

 

 

Next, some users have reported hangs and other problems when using the SCSI drive connected to a SCSI card. Please note that 25-pin cards (such as the Adaptec 2906) will not support either Ecrix SCSI drive. In addition, the LVD version requires a wide card, per our website note. In general, a SCSI device should be connected to a SCSI card of the same pin configuration.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, some users have reported hangs when backing up to SCSI drives through a FireWire - SCSI adapter. From our Knowledgebase, these configurations are not supported by Dantz. That said, however, we do wish to help users with this configuration, and have tested the BridgeIt adapter. Our tests showed that converter firmware version 302 is required.

 

 

 

I hope this information is helpful.

 

 

 

Irena Solomon

 

Dantz Tech Support

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