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EdV

A smarter simpler backup please

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Retrospect has many options that make it suitable for a structured corporate level backup system. And it's intelligent snapshot based incremental backup technique is fairly unique.

 

But in a home or small office environment, Retrospect's rigid requirement of tying a backup job to a specific backup set causes more problems than it solves.

 

We need a simple sheduled backup option that allows Retrospect do decide how to back up. Using this mode, Retrospect would always keep track of the name of the backup set that was last used. When it runs the scheduled job, if the backup set in the backup device has changed, it will do a recycle backup, if it's the same, do an incremental. And when doing an incremental, if the backup set is exhausted, it will start over and do a recycle backup.

 

The way Retrospect works now does not fit well in a small office environment. Just getting a designated person to change the tape each day is a major accomplishment. Getting them to put the right tape on the right day is asking for trouble. And if that person is out sick, (or goes on vacation for two weeks) Retrospect won't run the backup.

 

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The snapshot system requires that backup sets be tied to specific snapshots. It is a critical safety feature for the program. Without it, you would certainly find that backups would be "easier" however the restoration process would become unuseful. Even very small businesses need to have great confidence and consistency in the time period that their backup cycle provides for. When files are needed to be restored, it is often as a result of a file deletion or corruption which is not discovered until days or weeks later. The type of flexibility you are asking for would conceivably allow today's backup to overwrite yesterdays backup.

 

While it may initially be painfull, a better investment is training, good clear labelling on backup sets, and a reasonable backup cycle. In my 22 years experience with small businesses, the type of controls enforced by retrospect are very necessary.

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"The snapshot system requires that backup sets be tied to specific snapshots. It is a critical safety feature for the program. Without it, you would certainly find that backups would be "easier" however the restoration process would become unuseful."

 

I'm not asking them to change the snapshot mechanism. I'm asking them to allow the job script to have an option to use any backup set that is in the drive when the job is run, rather than a specific set. In no way would this compromise the restore process.

 

"Even very small businesses need to have great confidence and consistency in the time period that their backup cycle provides for. When files are needed to be restored, it is often as a result of a file deletion or corruption which is not discovered until days or weeks later. The type of flexibility you are asking for would conceivably allow today's backup to overwrite yesterdays backup."

 

OK, so Suzie the backup person in a 25 workstation office, inserts the correct tape before she leaves on Monday. But she becomes ill and is out sick on Tuesday and Wednesday so the Retrospect scheduled backup doesn't run because it's prompting for the correct tape to be inserted. On Thursday morning, the disk drive fails and is replaced. We've just lost the work of 25 people for 2 days. Another example, the president of the company comes in on a holiday and works all day on a big presentation. The next morning, she makes one last change before the meeting, but hopelessly mangles the file and calls you in to save the day by restoring the file from last nights backup. Well she's SOL because Retrospect refused to overwrite the tape which wasn't changed because of the holiday.

 

We could argue endlessly about whether it's better to overwrite or not. I'm not asking Dantz to take the overwrite prevention away, I'm asking them to add the overwrite option for those of us who prefer to use it.

 

"While it may initially be painfull, a better investment is training, good clear labelling on backup sets, and a reasonable backup cycle. In my 22 years experience with small businesses, the type of controls enforced by retrospect are very necessary."

 

And my 33 years experience with hundreds of clients both small and large says otherwise.

 

 

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I think Retrospect can handle this situation for you. If you use the Proactive backup option and create two separate backup scripts (one for each Backup Set) it should be smart enough to know that the tapes are not there for Backup Set A and to use Backup Set B.

 

-Scott

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Quote:

Scott(BAH) said:

I think Retrospect can handle this situation for you. If you use the Proactive backup option and create two separate backup scripts (one for each Backup Set) it should be smart enough to know that the tapes are not there for Backup Set A and to use Backup Set B.

 

-Scott

 


 

It should, but it won't.

 

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I think your solution is really hardware based. Buy an autoloader and your problem is solved. Then, you only have to worry about off-site tape removal which you can do yourself every month or so. They are not really that expensive compared to the time spent training a mindless desk jockey to switch tapes and click 'OK'. You've already spent the money on Retrospect, why not make the jump to a maintenance free system?

 

With your system, what would you do if a backup doesn't fit on one tape? Overwrite the tape in the drive?

 

What you are asking for really defeats the purpose of most backup systems IMO.

 

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Most backups aren't needed to recover from a "catastrophic" error--a theft, a fire, etc.--in which the original *and* backup media is destroyed or lost. So if you want to deal with "forgetting to put the right set in" or "lost data from the day before" how about just throwing one or more large (e.g. 120G for <$100, 200G, etc.) shared harddrives somewhere on the network--an IDE in a "spare" or out-of-the-way PC, a USB drive, one of the newer NDAS drives (e.g. www.ximeta.com) via Ethernet, etc. This will pretty much ensure that a valid backup media is available and on-line whenever a (e.g. daily) backup needs to be run. Given enough space, you may be able to have multiple backups on this drive (e.g. a daily that gets recycled monthly and a weekly that gets recycled annually, data-only backups from each user's PC, etc.) and/or have multiple drives.

 

For the "catastrophic" situation you need to get the data off-site, via a phone, the Internet, sneakernet, etc. using FTP, tape, zips, CDR, removable drives, etc. But for most people doing this less often (e.g. once per week) is probably OK--this is only to deal with a complete loss of the main data *and* the backup(s) mentioned above. So if this was occasionally forgotten (e.g. Suzie forgets to swap the tape on a Friday or is out sick) it's not that big of a deal since it's not the only backup--deal with it a day layer or catch it on the next cycle.

 

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I fully agree with you. It should be able to do a NORMAL backup or FULL backup to any tape in the drive no matter what. Rigid backup schedules are not possible on most environments and to think they are is a delusion. If retrospect is this rigid, I would have to say it is not a good backup solution for most small - medium sized offices.

 

I don't know if what you are asking it to do is possible because nobody seems to be able to answer the question. It would be good to have an answer because I would like to stay with Retrospect but if this is not possible - Goodbye. frown.gif Retrospect.

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I still see problems with this ability. What if Suzie is out sick, doesn't swap tapes, and then you needed something off of the backup that ran the day before yesterday, but that was just overwritten by the backup that ran last night?

 

There's problems either way you have it, so I don't see why you wouldn't backup to disks, files, etc. and eliminate the need for tapes completely.

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