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System goes to sleep state during backup


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Second time in 2 months, my Mac has fallen into a sleep state during a backup. It's set to sleep after 15 minutes of inactivity. I started a backup script to do a smart incremental backup of my entire hard drive to a USB external drive, before retiring. Machine was asleep when I awoke. I awake the machine, and Retrospect was about to begin the write phase. (All of the 600 MB files Retrospect wrote were after I awoke the machine the next morning). Could the Mac be seeing that the Engine's scanning/matching/comparing/etc. as a state of inactivity, so it allows the Mac to sleep? Can Retrospect send a signal to the Mac that even if it is 'only' scanning/matching/comparing/etc., and not yet writing, that it is doing valuable business and the system should not sleep? In 6.1 I had to run a mouse-jiggling utility to prevent this from happening, I'm sorry to see this happening in 8.1. I should not have to set the system to "never sleep" when I fire off Retrospect to do legitimate business.

Suggestions? Could this be a bug that I should report in the bug forums? I can send Robin my log files if he wishes.


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Dear CallMeDave:

-thank you for your responses to my (several) questions in my transition to Retro 8, the kind responses by you and others being the substitute for the written manual (work in progress, I'm told). You, Maser, Robin, Russ and others have been patient and kind.

-Too bad that I have to change a system preference to "never sleep" so that the system does not sense the 'lack of activity' when Retro 8 engine is actually quite active scanning/matching/comparing/preparing. Could not the programmers program in something in Retro 8 that tells the system it's actually being "active?"

-Also, as I write right now, an idea comes to my head. This issue of the system falling to sleep has happened only when when I've quit the console and logged out, and has never happened when I've stayed logged in with the console running (as is my usual practice). Could it be that the console, when running while logged in and being busy watching the engine working, is seen by the system as 'activity' thus the system does not sleep after the specified amount of 'inactivity.' If that were the case, the engine needs some code to announce to the system that it's 'active' when it's scanning/matching/etc. If this makes sense to you, should I report it as a bug?

-As an aside but on the same idea, Activity Monitor says the console uses a decent chunk of processor throughput although isn't it true that the engine is doing the actual backup work and can do the backup even w/o the console at all, I've always wondered why the console just watching the engine takes so much power), 30% (divided by 2) per Activity Monitor



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The problem is that the engine, being a background daemon, is indistinguishable from any other background daemon service such as networking, DNS, etc., and the stuff it is doing while you are logged out (chatting with clients, sorting, etc.) might look to the system as the normal background stuff that can be put to sleep.


I haven't checked, but perhaps the Energy Saver preference pane is scriptable. If so, you could turn off sleep when Retrospect starts, then turn sleep back on when Retrospect quits. Oh, wait, Retrospect 8 isn't scriptable, so you can't coordinate that. Sigh. Perhaps someday.


There might be a third party hack out there to have a more sophisticated scheduler for the Energy Saver control panel, perhaps to never sleep between certain hours, etc. I leave that to you to investigate. We have always run Retrospect on our server (that's where the data is), which never goes to sleep, so I haven't invested any energy into trying to solve this problem, and perhaps it's not at the top of customer requests for enhancements to Retrospect.


As for the % of CPU time taken up by the console, I suspect that the programmers are groping around a bit, trying to make the console more responsive, with spin loops, etc. Let us hope that this stuff improves, after the firefighting settles down, when someone has time to step back and do a design review. GUI communication to faceless background processes is well understood these days.



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Dear Russ:

-Thank you for your post.

-seems for a single-user like me who runs Retrospect on demand when I have the time, the only option is to not log out, and keep the console going, the console's monitoring of the engine giving the Mac the info it needs to stay awake. I can always put up a password-protected screensaver to keep prying eyes away. Or, as you suggest, change the sleep preference to never, and change it back once the backup is done (more of a pain that the first option).

-Agree some scripting ability would be nice, say, to run a shutdown or reboot or dismount-the-target-HD script after execution. Does seem like the engineers are firefighting like hell, new releases every month or so with long lists of squelched bugs.


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