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I am wondering if someone could help me out with some definitions with Retrospect GUI (may be backup terminology in general)


Retrospect 8.1 (626)

OSX 10.6 - XServe


I have been searching to find definitions on different Media Action: options under "Schedule" when I select my script.


The options are (as Im sure you are aware)

No media action

Skip to new member

Start new Media Set

Recycle Media Set


I have my own logic for what I think these settings mean, but was unable to find any actual definition for different media actions re "google" or this forum. Can someone please help or point me towards a location that would help me understand these settings?



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Oh, I'm around, but I've stopped answering questions that should be answered by the (non-existent) manual.


I suggest that you contact EMC Retrospect support and ask this question, which should be answered by a manual. When the support burden gets too high because of missing documentation, perhaps documentation will become a priority.


Here's how to contact support:

Contact EMC Retrospect support


Right now, the program is little more than an interesting technology demonstration. It was released prematurely with lots of bugs, with little or no Software QA/QC, no documentation, and it can't read backups made by older versions of the program. It was announced a year ago (first week in 2009) and still isn't ready for production use. Oh, and the GUI is terrible, clearly not designed by someone who does production backups, but that's a subjective point.


I would be embarrassed to be associated with such a product, and I would never have released a product in such a state back when I developed hardware and software in my youth.



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Hello Russ,


Out of curiosity, what are you using for your backup software, assuming it's for the mac?


I've been using Retrospect 8 for a couple of weeks and haven't had one problem. Yes I know that doesn't mean that it won't blow up in my face but so far so good. Your assessment of this software puts a chill down my spine and makes me wonder if I should just move to something else before a disaster...





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We haven't migrated to Retrospect 8 yet because it doesn't meet our needs; still using Retrospect 6.1, but we are currently evaluating other options. There is no perfect solution.


Your needs may be different from ours. We have a small law firm, and we back up our LAN clients to tape from our xServe server with offsite backups, etc. You can search my past posts for the reasons for our specific needs, but, basically, we never reuse tapes, we move to a new backup set (um, now, media set) when the current set fills, and we have a need to be able to restore any file from the distant past back to the epoch (1992) when we started using Retrospect. Litigation discovery requires us to be able to know the state of any file on any date on any computer on our LAN.


Disk-based backups and grooming are of no interest to us except for staging Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape to reduce the backup window time.


In order to for us to migrate to Snow Leopard and Retrospect 8, the following are needed:


(1) Retrospect 8 to become reliable. Not there yet.


(2) Retrospect 8 to be able to restore from backups made by earlier versions of the program, at least back to Retrospect 2.0.


(3) Retrospect 8 to be scriptable - can't back up an always-running server if that's not there, because there is the need to coordinate the stop/checkpoint/start of services with the backup of checkpoints for database services (e.g., mail, etc.)


(4) documentation


Other backup software evaluates the same as Retrospect on item (2), above (because no other software can restore from older Retrospect backups), but Retrospect has a big black mark against it because of vendor non-commitment to being able to restore backups made with earlier versions of the program.


On all other points, every other backup software out there being evaluated is miles ahead of Retrospect.


We are rather cost-insensitive for backup software because our data is very valuable. But we trust our data to our backup software, and vendor commitment to being able to restore from backups that were made by the vendor's own software is a very critical point for the evaluation.


Backup is not something that can be trusted to fly-by-night software. A proven track record is critically important.


The restore capabilities of Retrospect have always been its strength (because of the snapshot paradigm). The horrible GUI of Retrospect 8 notwithstanding, it could become a mature program worth using in production in several years (at the present rate of evolution). That may not be soon enough.


EMC has indicated that they are "evaluating" whether to add the ability of Retrospect 8 to read Retrospect 6.1 backups, but that the ability to read backups earlier than that probably will never be tested. Doesn't give me hope.


Remember, those who commit to Retrospect 8 now may be in this same situation in a few years, needing to restore a critical file from a Retrospect 8 backup using Retrospect 9 or 10 or ....


Retrospect's product manager has stated (back in August 2009, when the manual was to be available "soon") that the problem is that EMC's Retrospect group does not have a documentation person on staff. Consider that as an indication of the commitment to the future of the product.



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No media action

Skip to new member

Start new Media Set

Recycle Media Set


These actions are the same in 8 as they have always been in Retrospect Classic. Just substitute "Media Set" for "Backup Set" in the 6.0 users guide.

Not quite. There is no "No media action" in R6 - equivalent is "Normal", but how is a newcomer supposed to figure that out without a manual?


Only "documentation" I have seen on this is a post on the Retrospect developer's blog a long time back:

Retrospect developer's blog - walkthrough of new UI


See also my comment to that blog post, which was ignored. There doesn't seem to have been any user input on the UI, which leaves much to be desired.



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Thanks Dave! (and thanks Russ)


Now refering to 6.1 documentation for deff. and understanding.



Agree with you on pretty much all of your posts. For me, this product is new on new servers, so I do not have to go backwards. However your comments are well received.


As I already purchased this product on the recommendation from Apple, I already own it. I guess I just need to keep the install disks around umm forever?


Our most critical data is backed to tape (via rsync or rsnapshot - unix AIX) and alos copied to a backup server over a 5mb bana (dry loop) approx 1 mile away.


This data, while not as critical as our DB (old school hibol [cobol derivative]) still needs to be backed up. We are now looking into a disk to disk to tape solution for more redundancy. (currently disk to disk)


Your insight and knowledge and viewpoint is much appreciated.

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I guess I just need to keep the install disks around umm forever?

That's not good enough, and goes to the heart of the "vendor commitment" issue.


For example, Retrospect 2.0 through 5.1 were for Mac OS Classic. Don't run on Mac OS X (well, 5.x was reported to "run" on early versions of Mac OS X, but not well). Doesn't do you any good if current machines don't boot Mac OS Classic (because Retrospect runs close to the metal for tapes, etc.). And, 680x0 Classic computers can't even connect to a current Mac OS X server (requires Mac OS 9.x on PPC). So, the install disks aren't enough, and even keeping around old computers isn't enough if you can't transfer files to/from them.


Likewise, Retrospect 6.x is PPC code, using Apple's Carbon API (which is why its code base had to be scrapped in favor of R8 on a new code base), and ran emulated under Rosetta. Apple has bugs in the Carbon API that will never be fixed, which is why Retrospect 6 has some issues that can't be fixed. And there is the byte-swapping issue.


Support for the Carbon API and Rosetta will not be around much longer.


So, it's more than just needing to keep the install disks around if you expect to be able to read older Retrospect backups. What a concept that someone might need to restore from an older backup made by Retrospect!


I understand that our backup/restore needs aren't the same as everyone. I wouldn't mind paying extra for a "legacy compatibility add-on" that would enable Retrospect to read backup sets made by older versions of the program. But it's a real need, and that need will never go away.


There is obviously no need to be able to do "bare metal restore" to a Mac OS Classic machine. But file retrieval (and search) will always be needed. If a vendor makes a backup program, and if a customer entrusts data to that vendor, then the vendor has to commit to being able to restore from backups made by that vendor's backup program. That's the vendor-customer deal that is made when you buy into a backup strategy.


Oh, and we've got one whole area on our server that has Apple II files from those years, transferred by 5.25 floppy. I don't expect to be able to restore those files to an Apple II computer, but I will always need to be able to retrieve them. Yes, we have translator technology to be able to read them once retrieved.



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even keeping around old computers isn't enough if you can't transfer files to/from them.


While modern OS X Servers require relatively modern AFP clients, any ancient Macintosh can happily speak FTP via lots of freeware, shareware and commercial programs of the day. A historically preserved Macintosh need not live in complete isolation.


If a vendor makes a backup program, and if a customer entrusts data to that vendor, then the vendor has to commit to being able to restore from backups made by that vendor's backup program


And if that vendor makes some business decisions that result in what had been a privately held company getting involved with some venture capitalist vultures, which results in said company being sold to a large mega-corporation and disbanded, with the original vendor's intellectual property and patents left to the fate of the MegaCorp's management who decides to scrap the whole thing and let it end-of-life slowly, would you then expect that any further similar products developed and marketed by the MegaCorp to be backwards compatible with the software developed by the original vendor?


If [color:purple]Retrospect 8[/color] had instead been named [color:purple]EMC Mid Level Business Backup Snickerdoodle[/color], would you boycott it simply because it didn't read Retrospect Classic Storage Sets and Backup Sets? Even if it had a good user's manual?




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If [color:purple]Retrospect 8[/color] had instead been named [color:purple]EMC Mid Level Business Backup Snickerdoodle[/color], would you boycott it simply because it didn't read Retrospect Classic Storage Sets and Backup Sets?

Dave, I think you misunderstand my point.


(1) I'm not boycotting Retrospect 8; I simply am evaluating it as I evaluate other backup strategies. Our evaluation criteria still remain the same as back in 1992 when we moved to Retrospect.


(2) If the program had been called Snickerdoodle, I would have different expectations, and certainly no expectation that it could read Retrospect backups. Calling the program "Retrospect", in that program line, leads to different expectations.


(3) If the product is going to be killed, fine, let it happen, and we move on to another product.


(4) Part of the decision to go with a vendor's backup solution is the perceived longevity of the vendor and its history. EMC has a fine reputation. Dantz was small, but the product was rock solid from Retrospect 2.0 through 4.x. And the Retrospect support group has always been outstanding.


(5) You might want to read the Retrospect 8 release announcement again: New! EMC Retrospect for Mac 8


With more than two decades of field-tested expertise and millions of users worldwide, EMC Retrospect is the most trusted name in Mac backup.


Whether you are protecting photos of your company picnic or your business financial data, [color:red]Retrospect 8 for the Mac will give you the peace of mind knowing your critical files are backed-up and secure.[/color]




Reliable and Secure


With more than two decades of proven reliability for millions of users, EMC Retrospect is the backup software [color:red]that small and midsize businesses rely on to protect their valuable information against costly data loss.[/color]

Data that cannot be retrieved is data lost.



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I'd add to the above, commenting on the misleading text of the release announcement, that mentioning "two decades of proven reliability" as a preamble establishes an expectation of backward compatibility... i.e. if we've been happily using Retrospect for those two decades, then we've got a bunch of data trusted to their archival paradigm. If you're gonna sell me based on my past reliance on your product, how can you then sell me a product that renders all of that past reliance meaningless?


"It sure is good you've got tons of backups with our former products, you must know how reliable we are. Now, buy our new version and start all over again - don't rely on what we are highlighting as reliable!"

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