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Various problems with Retrospect Express HD 1.0.196


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I bought a Maxtor OneTouch II yesterday, and since then, I have been fighting with Retrospect Express HD 1.0.196.

In the end, the software appears to kinda work, but several quirks. I would add that it took me quite some time to be able that it did work, actually. This forum gave me some useful clues.


I'm running the 300 Go Maxtor through a FireWire interface.

The drive works fine. During my testing, while I was wondering whether I had a drive or a software problem, I copied large amounts of data back and forth with total success and normal performances.

I have turned automatic backup off, as I launch my backup sessions manually (same problems occur with Automatic Backup set to on, anyway).


I also was hit by one of the problem mentionned on this forum: Pressing the "One Touch" button would seem to do nothing for a long while. In fact, something was happening, but totally silently for a long while (another problem analyzed below). Using the solution suggested by one of the forum users, i.e. configuring the OneTouch button to launch RetroExpress.exe improved things a bit.


I'm running Win2k, latest Windows Updates including the .NET 1.1 ones, on a dual PIII machine with 512 Mb RAM and about 40 Go of disk. Apart from the Retrospect problems, the machine is stable, healthy, reliable and predictable.


When Retrospect comes up, it does nor properly paint its windows. The grey and red frame around the text data appears all black. The buttons only start to appear when hovering the mouse over them. I ended up finding that minimizing then restoring the windows would repaint the window to its normal red and grey colors, with all the buttons.


When launching Retrospect, the status screen that displays the current program activity randomly "disconnects" from the underlying program activity. That is, the main screen will stick to some message similar to "backing up drive H: 2.7 Go of 3.1 Go", and that message will not change anymore, while the backup is actually running in the background and will eventually complete (after having processed not only drive H: but also drive I: and J:). During all that time, the hint on the task bar tray is not updated either, and is consistent with the display window (but inconsistent with the real backup state).

I could figure out the backup was properly completed by opening (read only) the log file at

Documents and settings\All users\Application Data\RetroExp\operations_log.utx

and finding out the backup had actually completed over 10 minutes ago.


The only way I found to force the main window to resynchronize with the underlying backup was to press the Setup button: Since the backup was completed, Retrospect accepted it and entered the Setup screen (with the black frame back, BTW). Then pressing "Cancel" from the setup screen, I got back to the main screen, and this time, the message was updated to the entry screen offering the "Back up now" option.


After running many backups and trying to understand what was going on, I found other interesting things. Windows is installed on drive D:. The C: drive is a small (200Mo) FAT boot partition, that only has 4 Mb in about 6 folders and 100 files.

It takes Retrospect about TEN MINUTES to process this drive, and save the unique file that has changed (file boot.ini) on it:



- 09/01/2005 15:40:10: Copying $[*!20611,,14,+3]Boot (C:)

09/01/2005 15:50:41: Snapshot stored, 21 KB

09/01/2005 15:50:43: Comparing $[*!20611,,14,+3]Boot (C:)

09/01/2005 15:50:45: Execution completed successfully [127497588101750000]

Completed: 1 files, 1 KB

Performance: 0,1 MB/minute (0,1 copy, 0,1 compare)

Duration: 00:10:34 (00:10:28 idle/loading/preparing)

As a comparison, it takes between 20 seconds and 2'20" to Restrospect to check each of the other drives (from 2 GB to 30 GB) logical drives and save 2 to 7 Mb of changed files. These other drives are a mix of FAT32 and NTFS drives.


I started to monitor the backup of drive C: using the task manager, and found a few interesting things:

During those 10 minutes, Retrospect seems to wait for something. It uses no CPU at all, except for a very short burst every 30 seconds. During those 30 secondes, while it waits, it seems to keep a lock on something, and that prevents Explorer.exe from popping up or refreshing its screen...

After the backup of the C: drive is accomplished, the rest of the backup occurs normally.

I did an error checking on the C: drive, and Windows reports it as perfectly healthy.


To make a long story short, all of this is a bit too much for me to trust Retrospect Express in its current state. Since I understand that this version is brand new, could I be "downgraded" to version 6.5 until the current problems are fixed?




Philippe Auphelle

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Retrospect Express HD is designed to work slowly in the background. The refresh problems you are seeing may just be an extension of that. The first backup will take a while and the application may appear unresponsive even though it is working. I would leave it for a few days (until the backups get shorter) and see if the problems continue.


The original version of Retrospect is included on the install CD in a folder called "network".



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Thanks for the information about the original version of Retrospect.


Retrospect Express HD is designed to work slowly in the background.

The refresh problems you are seeing may just be an extension of that.



I'm afraid there's something more to it: On at least one occasion, I left the machine during a backup for over three hours. When I came back, the display was still mentioning the preparing of the backup. According to the log, the backup had completed about three hours earlier. In fact, from all my testing, it looks like once synch is lost between the display and the backup process, it's lost forever - that is, until the user manually forces the launch of a new action.


And the "slowly in the background" doesn't really explains that the Retrospect windows are never properly painted either. I in fact wonder if the repainting that I force by minimizing / restoring the window is not one of the causes for the loss of synch between the display and the actual backup process. But minimizing / restoring a window has never been considered a forbidden action under Windows.


Finally, in my testing, the 10 minutes to save 1 Kb out of 4 Mb of data off C: drive only occurs on the C: drive. All *seven* other drives (that are considerably bigger and contains many more files) are processed at a "normal" speed, i.e., in a few tens of seconds, at most a few minutes per drive on a backup with very few changes since the previous one. AND this problem occurs on each and every additionnal backup I make.


True, during the backup of drives D: to J:, the responsiveness of other applications is not great, but the induced delay never goes above a few seconds, can be explained easily by monitoring the CPU and disk I/O load, and I didn't complain a bit about that.


What is pathological is the regular 30 seconds lock-up that I see in the explorer during the "backup" of the tiny C: drive, at a time the CPU and disk I/O on the machine is precisely zero.


And those facts are really pathological and can be reproduced at will.


I think EMC Dantz really has a bunch of serious problems to address with that version of the software.

I guess using the unproven / wet paint MS .NET framework and development tools to implement it didn't help. Specially for a backup commercial product, that is supposed to be rock solid, dependable and 100% reliable...

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I see your point but I must disagree. I've personally run this product on a whole bunch of machines with no trouble whatsoever. If it were a bug of some kind it should be more reproduceable.


So the backup of other drives will work perfectly but the backup of the C drive causes problems? Are you familiar with the MSconfig command? Run it from the command line and disable all other programs that run at startup and then try the backup again. This will help us determine if there is a conflict somewhere.




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I have msconfig installed, and I'm by nature very cautious about all that's autoran on my machine.

So there are not a bunch of things in my startup and systray, and I do need everything that's in there.

Furthermore, I have been using Win2k since its release, and I've never met so far any software that was picky about what other pieces of software running on the same machine: that's event the main point of the NT technology, actually, having multiple processes running in their own space without interfering with others as long as they play by the Win32 rules.

If Retrospect Express HD 1.0 is of a different kind, I just don't want to bother with it, specially for something as critical as my data backup.


OTOH, I have since then installed the Retrospect 6.0.xxx that's on my Maxtor CD, as you were kind enough to point out, and I like it much more:

It's much smaller and less resource greedy, it has worked so far exactly like I could expected, it is much more configurable (and allowed me to disable the "verify" phase, that's a bit ridiculous when the backup medium is a disk drive), it allows me to backup part of my laptop thru the network, and all its windows display just fine on my machine.


For all those reasons, I consider it a much more mature and better product.

Icing on the cake, it doesn't require the .NET frame, so I was able to uninstall .NET.

I understand software companies getting ready for Longhorn, but forcing users to run (bulky, sluggish) .NET applications today on current machines and OSes means nothing but troubles and bears absolutely no benefit to the user.


And to me, Retrospect Express HD 1.0 has so far spelled precisely that: troubles...

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