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Retrospect configuration gets corrupted too easily

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We had a power outage nearby yesterday which took down all non-essential equipment in the building. Our backup server was powered down before I had time to reach it and gracefully shut it down (it is connected to a small UPS battery with 2-3 minutes power). On boot, the console tried to connect to the server but kept spinning. My guess is that the configuration file got corrupted. This was with Retrospect 10.1.0 (221) running on a Mac mini running Mac OS X Server v10.8.3.


A similar situation happened earlier this year when the machine froze up and I was forced to cold boot. Again, the configuration file was broken and all information about our licenses was lost that time. That time we were running Retrospect 8.2.0 (399) on the same Mac mini with Mac OS X Server v10.6.8.


The Config80.bak file was also corrupted in both instances.


Thanks to twickland on the forums, I was able to resolve this both times using the following procedure. This relies on you having a back up your backup server and the license keys handy:

  1. Make sure all machines that Retrospect mounts through NFS are powered on and have the NFS service running (only applies if you use NFS).
  2. Stop the Retrospect engine.
  3. You will need to restore the configuration file from the backup of the backup server. First, make copies of /Library/Application Support/Retrospect/Config80.dat, /Library/Application Support/Retrospect/Config80.bak, and the catalog file for the backup of your backup server just in case.
  4. Delete the original Config80.dat and Config80.bak files. Retrospect now has no configuration.
  5. Start the Retrospect engine and open the console. The console will prompt you for the license key.

  6. If you use NFS mounts and your backup server media set has members on these mounts, you will need to re-add them. In Sources, click Add and in the Share tab of the dialog, enter:


    • Share address: nfs://my.lovely.server/my/lovely/exported/directory

    • Connect as: Registered User

    • Name: [username for the user on the backup server]

    • Password: [password for the user on the backup server]


  7. In Media Sets, click on Locate and open your catalog file for the backup server.

  8. Initiate a restore using the icon on the top-left of the Retrospect console. Restore /Library/Application Support/Retrospect/Config80.dat and /Library/Application Support/Retrospect/Config80.bak to some location.

  9. Close the Retrospect console and turn off the engine. Copy the restored configuration files back into /Library/Application Support/Retrospect.

  10. Turn on the engine, and open the console. Hopefully all is well.

So that was a solution for me. The big question is why is the configuration file so fragile? Why does the server not write to a temporary file and then at safe points replace the main configuration file with the new configuration? And why is the server so bad at determining that the configuration file is broken? These seem like simple problems to fix and I personally have wasted hours on this problem the first time around.

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The configuration file is just bad by design.


My config80.dat file is approx. 53 MB in size. And that's because it not only contains the configuration, but also part of the logging for Retrospect scripts.


I've had a couple of times where Retrospect would crash or I had to stop the serve. Whenever scripts were running at that time I would lose the info of those jobs, because config80.dat was not saved correctly. And I have had to restore the files once or twice.


As a safeguard, I make backups of the Retrospect files, but also copies. So if the Retrospect files go south, I can easily copy those files back and I'm up and running in a couple of minutes.

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As a safeguard, I make backups of the Retrospect files, but also copies. So if the Retrospect files go south, I can easily copy those files back and I'm up and running in a couple of minutes.


Yep, I was using Time Machine to do this but had turned it off to see whether it was affecting Retrospect's performance and had forgotten to turn it back on.

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