Retrospect for Mac 8.1 review

In the days before Time Machine made personal backup available to all Mac users, Retrospect was almost synonymous with the task it performed. Indeed, for personal backup, there was the Express version of the product that shipped with many an external hard disk and Zip drive. For a while – around version 6 – Retrospect seemed to fall a little into the doldrums, so we noted EMC’s newly enthusiastic approach to Retrospect 8 with interest.

‘The easy answer to the question “What’s new about Retrospect 8?” is a simple one: just about everything...’ says the publicity. How could we not take a look?

After a shaky start with Retrospect 8.0 (there were reports of a bug that accidentally erased tape libraries, among other issues for which early patches were issued), version 8.1 added support for some PowerPC processors, as well as carrying forward the changes made in version 8.0.

The Retrospect package now arrives with three installers, rather than two, as before. Retrospect Engine (which needs dual G4 processors running at least 867MHz and Mac OS X 10.4.11) runs on the server – the computer that has your storage devices attached to it. Retrospect Console (which needs at least a PowerPC G4 and Mac OS X 10.5.5) is the management utility that carries the main user interface. Finally, the Retrospect client software ships in three versions, for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.

Installing each of the software packages onto the appropriate computers on our test network took less than half an hour, as did the initial configuration. On running the Console, we were impressed with the new Media Set feature that, as EMC says, ‘allows you to combine multiple disk volumes, including... flash media, into a single destination for your backups’.

OUR VERDICT

We were very impressed with this new version of an office veteran, despite the initial worries raised by version 8.0. Using the Getting Started guide, it should be possible for even a first-time user to set up a fairly complex scheduled backup regime, including archiving backups to a tape drive for removing off-site. Retrospect is an essential upgrade for all conscientious network managers.

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