Saturday, November 06, 2010

Retrospect 8.2 for OS X fails my latest review -- because it's been abandoned

I'm not happy with the state of OS X backup software. I've been hoping for a year or two that Retrospect 8, now owned by Roxio would be a real contender. In particular, I hoped it would replace my use of SuperDuper for backup. I particularly like the file version strategy, the client management, and the built-in encryption. (Encryption is required for offsite backup.)

I also use Time Capsule, but I insist on two completely different and independent backup solutions for our home data.

In my ongoing quest for a Time Capsule/Time Machine complement I recently installed and began to test Retrospect 8.2. I know the app from past OS X and current Windows versions, so the complexity wasn't a problem. I was pleased by some of the things I found, and it passed some initial tests.

Then I ran into an installation permissions bug. Only the Admin account I used to install could open the Readme and User Guide documents. It's an odd permissions bug -- I can't fix it even using TinkerTools. There are workarounds of course, but this is a worrisome sign of poor quality control.

So I visited the (still with EMC relabeling!) forums and read this thread response from a current user who wants Retrospect to succeed (emphases mine) ...

Really Disappointed in 8.2 update - Retrospect Backup Forum - Powered by FusionBB

... I got support responses to online tickets 10 days following the opening of the tickets. I had solved two of the three tickets by then (thanks to the forum). It's been a struggle...if it takes 10 days to respond to my responses then I may have to shake some people by their lapels.

And yes, 8.2 has been pretty buggy, and no word on an incoming patch. The blog went quiet, and so is every other means of end-user communication. Hopefully Roxio will figure things out, but for such a critical piece of software this isn't good...

I can confirm that Roxio has gone silent on Retrospect. They have various communication channels, and they're all black. This is a robust indicator that Roxio isn't funding further development. Retrospect OS X is, not for the first time, abandonware.

I can happily use abandoned software when the output is in a standard format. For example, I still love Microsoft's Windows Live Writer, even though it's been abandoned. It produces blog posts other tools can work with. When it finally dies, I'll say a sad goodbye.

That's not an option for backup software. The cost features and functions doesn't matter -- I can't use backup software that's not being actively supported. Even if Retrospect 8.2 were bug free today, even Roxio sold it for a buck, I couldn't use it.

Retrospect has failed. Again.

Now I'll see if the undocumented installer (in the Retrospect folder in Applications) actually works. (Correction: Installation is documented in the readme PDF. The installer does work. Both would have been strong points in my evaluation -- if I'd been able to justify continuing it.


Anonymous said...

I'll never abandon SuperDuper; I think it's great. I use TM, Jungle Disk with versions and think about using CrashPlan, but really if I only had one it would be the clone from SuperDuper. I guess it saved me on a bad Mac OS X update once. Dropbox is good for it's sync, not necessarily back up capabilities.

John Gordon said...

The problem with a clone solution is that it's a clone. So if iPhoto 9 wipes out your photos at 10pm, and your SD backup runs at 10:10pm, you've lost everything.

I have a post on cloud solutions and their issues:

Frank said...

I am a Mac consultant (since 1986) and have been using Retrospect since it was Dantz Retrospect. How a useful and venerable piece of software could end up so poorly implemented in version 8 is beyond belief. This powerful, versatile and useful software is now unreliable, difficult to use, and buggy.
Stay away.

flow said...

pretty pissed that i paid for licences for this.
its been apain tog et working and for the first time i had a need to use a bakup for a restore. and all i get is a silent failure.
useless software, imho, where is the enterprise class stuff for OS X? i remember solstice backup very fondly