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Retrospect Remote

One of the wonderful things about networks is that they allow a lot of people to create a lot of information and share it with everyone else. One of the bad things about networks is that with so much information on the network, it often becomes almost impossible to back it all up in a coherent fashion. Retrospect works fine with any network software that mounts a disk on your desktop, so if you’ve got DataClub or TOPS or AppleShare, you can backup all of your files without doing anything fancy, although you may need a big backup device. However, the majority of LocalTalk networks are probably just a couple of Macs hooked to a LaserWriter. Dantz solved that the backup problem for those networks with Retrospect Remote, which is really just an INIT that works on the remote Mac with the standard Retrospect application on the backup Mac, as Dantz calls it.

All you have to do to install Retrospect Remote is drop the Remote INIT in the System Folder or the Control Panels folder if you’re running System 7, and reboot. If you’re running under System 6, you also have to install the ADSP (AppleTalk Data Streaming Protocol, or something like that) INIT in the System Folders of all Macs. Then within Retrospect, choose Remotes… from the Config menu, click Network… to find all the possible remote Macs, and install, which involves typing in one of your Remote Activator codes. Once installed, the remote Mac appears in your list of Sources just like all local disks and is treated exactly the same with a few exceptions.

Since you are working with someone else’s Mac, they get a certain amount of say over what happens. They can turn their Remote extension on and off, restrict access to Read Only (which I assume means that Retrospect won’t update things like the backup time and the archive flag), and Private Folders (which are folders that won’t be backed up if their name starts with a bullet). The user can also make the backup work in the background, even under System 6 Finder, and can have the Mac stay awake at shut down (with the screen protected by Retrospect’s built-in screen saver) until the scheduled backup takes place. Then the Mac will shut down normally. Finally, the user can set a Priority, so if the backup takes place while the user works, Retrospect can grab lots of processing time or very little.

In my testing, I had the remote Mac set for priority to go to the backup process, and although the Mac, a Classic running System 7, was slower, it was still usable. That should only get better as the user gets more priority. That test backup was with Retrospect running on my SE/30 in the foreground, because despite all of Nisus’s features, it is a processor hog in the foreground. Retrospect had a network time-out while I was typing quickly in Nisus, but recovered fully after it notified me and I switched out of Nisus. Other applications didn’t provoke the same response. In this test, I backed up almost 9 MB in 16 minutes over a standard LocalTalk network, though there wasn’t any other network traffic. That’s not bad, considering that Retrospect compressed all that information onto the SyQuest cartridge as well.

Retrospect Remote has some other nice features built into it. When you look at your list of remote Macs in the Remotes window, Retrospect tells you the status of the selected remote, the version of Retrospect (and you can update over the network, so you don’t have muck with each Mac individually), the machine type, the amount of memory, the System version, the AppleTalk version, the current application (although this always said MultiFinder, even when I opened System 7’s TeachText), the amount of time the Mac has been idle (so you can see if you want to run a backup manually or wait until no one is using it), the network echo time, the clock offset between the two Macs (which is useful for synchronizing the clocks to make sure automatic backups work correctly), and the number of volumes attached to the remote Mac. It’s not really that overwhelming, but I was extremely impressed by the amount and quality of information listed.

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