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Retrospect Conclusion

As far as the company goes, most of the news is highly positive. I and all other registered users received version 1.3 free without asking for it before System 7 was released. One reader in the Netherlands was surprised when he received his free upgrade because users in Europe are notoriously ignored by American software companies. Congratulations to Dantz on great international customer service! Most people who have dealt with Dantz’s technical support have been pleased (despite the fact that it is not a toll free number), although one person with a complex mixed network of Macs, PCs, and Unix machines had what sounded like a terrible experience trying to get Retrospect working under those circumstances. Call Dantz and talk to them if you are planning on using Retrospect with a mixed network.

I’ve worked with Retrospect for some time now, through versions 1.1, 1.2, and now 1.3, and I have nothing but respect for the program. Initially I was a little concerned about the way it compresses all the files and stores them in a format that would prevent recovery (I had used DiskFit a little before), but in the year and a half that I’ve been using and recommending Retrospect, no one has ever had trouble with a Retrospect archive. Admittedly, that is partly due to using good backup media (not the mega-cheapo floppies but unlabeled Sony disks) and being aware of any problems that might be occurring (one site had to replace a couple of SyQuest cartridges that died of old age and bad PLI software, although we’ve resurrected one of the two with Silverlining and the Alliance Power Tools software from APS). The only situation in which I don’t recommend Retrospect is for extremely non-technical novice users, who could become bogged down in Retrospect’s features, even though a simple backup is a matter of about five clicks after selecting the source and creating the archive the first time. Otherwise, Retrospect is a dream for the power user who always tries to specify precisely what should and should not be backed up each session. I’m still figuring out ways to customize the program just a little bit more so it does this or that and doesn’t mess with those files I want to throw out soon anyway. As I said above, I’ve had to reformat my 105 MB drive twice in the last week, and while I didn’t enjoy it and it took a while each time to restore my several thousand files from two SyQuest cartridges, Retrospect basically saved my hide (and at least one issue of TidBITS which hadn’t gone out yet). That’s the real test of a backup program – how well it works when you really need it, and Retrospect did not fail me.

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