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Backup of Windows NT Server

Last updated July 7, 2001


Towards the end of September 1999, Dantz Development began shipping Retrospect 5.0 for Windows, a line of backup software that can run on Windows and now Windows NT Servers. (Retrospect has been available for Mac for years.) A Mac server is no longer required to backup Windows clients, and NT Server is now supported directly. Retrospect Server Backup can back up client workstations and servers across multiple IP subnets.

In March, 2000, Dantz released Retrospect 5.1 for Windows, which added several features, including External scripting, which can shut down and restart databases, send email when media is required, and notify the administrator if unauthorized access is attempted.

Reader Reports

Oct. 8, 1999

Rich Ailes recently switched from Seagate Backup Exec 7.2 to Retrospect Server Backup for his NT Server 4.0 Service Pack 5:

I administer an AppleTalk and NT net at our prepress shop in Philadelphia. We're running AS 6.1 on the Mac side and NT Server 4 SP5 on the Win side. For years I've used Retrospect for the Mac and have always appreciated it's clean and easy interface. I rarely had a backup problem with it.

For the past year on the Win side I've had a horrible experience running Backup Exec 7.2 (now by Veritas, then by Seagate). Backup Exec, though powerful, presented me with one of the most horrifying interfaces I've ever run into. It took me weeks to learn it effectively. Since then I've been through many nightmarish mornings where a DAT tape is hanging out of the drive, Backup Exec is complaining that it needs "overwritable media", I push the same tape which was rejected the night previous, and the now 8 hour old backup proceeds with no problem.

A few weeks ago I jumped on the opportunity to try out Retrospect 5.0 for NT. I downloaded the trial software, got an id number and within 15 minutes I was backing up an NT server across the network as well as the local server on which the tape was resident. I did come to learn that my DAT drive was in need of repair BUT ONLY because Retrospect notified me that there was a "hardware failure" preventing the backup from occurring. I could safely say that there had been 20 times in the last 3 months in which Backup Exec rejected a tape and the only message I was getting was its need for "overwritable media." There never was a hint from it that there was any hardware problem.

So now I've installed a new DAT drive and it takes me minutes to setup effective backups with Retrospect. I can't sing its praises enough. Perhaps it is because I'm a Macophile and I'm familiar with the interface. Whatever perhaps you can pass this along for other Mac users trying to navigate their way through "4mmdat.sys" world of NT.

October 22, 1999
Bruce Robertson

I also can verify that Backup Exec is horrible. That is what we are trying to migrate away from. It is the worst. I also have worked with Retrospect on the Mac for many years, and I must say that I am praying that it is up to the task because it has a wonderful interface. I only wish it would switch tapes on my autoloader on restore jobs.

October 25, 1999
Bruce Robertson

I spoke to Dantz tech support concerning the features of Retrospect 5 for Windows NT. The following is what I found out:
  1. It doesn't run as an NT Service. A user must be logged into the server in order for backups to occur. This is not the case with most enterprise NT backup products. The tech I spoke with said an upcoming release would address this. He did tell me that the backup server didn't need to be logged in with an administrator account in order for backups to run, a regular domain user account works fine.
  2. The NT client running on NT server will backup resource forks on Mac volumes when Services for Macintosh are loaded on the NT server client. The previous 1.x NT client apparently could not do this. The registry backup is also much better implemented in the new client.
  3. There is no remote administration console. Administration must be done from the computer running the Retrospect application. He again told me that this would be a feature of another release, probably in about a year.
  4. Performance varies greatly, but one NT client reached 144 MB per minute on its initial (full) backup. Others were lower than 10 MB per minute. He was unsure why one or two clients in particular were slow. I am investigating this as well.
  5. Client limit. Some of the promotional pages for the NT version imply that there is a 100 client limit. He said that was not the case. I did look again and found that some pages do state that it supports more with additional client packs.
  6. Support of open database files. I didn't talk to him specifically about this, but it would appear that there are no additional pieces for supporting open databases that may be used by server products like SQL, Exchange, or Domino Server products. There are third-party solutions which allow open files to be backed up such as Open File Manager. I would love to find out if these features are planned, but I didn't think to ask.

    We have the 30 day demo running now, and I believe although it does have some shortcomings, we will most likely implement it on a permanent basis. Right now, it is only backing up a few PC's and our largest NT file server (all 80 GB of it). I plan to start testing it with Mac clients next week.

    Hopefully they will add the features mentioned above in future releases as the tech told me they would.

October 25, 1999
Erik Smith

I too am extremely anxious to use Retrospect on NT as all the other backup programs are very difficult to use. However, there is a drawback currently for Retrospect for NT. There is no Exchange backup agent or open file agent which is available for other NT programs such as Arcserver's Cheyenne backup. Until these two agents are available, Retrospect for NT won't be a complete solution.

October 27, 1999
Rob Smithers

Bruce Robertson mentioned on October 25 that a "user must be logged into the server in order for backups to occur." I've been testing it for a couple of weeks, and have had several scripted backups run fine with no user logged in to the server. I am usually logged in; but, on a few occasions, I have logged out. The script always runs anyway. (I double-checked this last night.)

October 28, 1999
Rich Ailes

I continue to have good results with Retrospect 5.0 on an NT Server - 4.0 SP5 - whether I'm logged onto the server or not. Usually I'm off the server when backups occur. Retrospect does install a service that allows for scripts to run with no user logged on - I forget at the moment its name, but it is there and you can give it Domain Admin privileges by having it run under an admin account - if you need to.

It will not back up open files - or I haven't seen that feature in the docs. This was true of Backup Exec also -though I know you could purchase modules which would do this with SQL and Exchange. For my Exchange server, I do a daily copy of the mdb files after stopping all mail services for 15 minutes and then have Retrospect back up this. Individual users who want the security of individual mailbox backup are asked to create pst files in their Home directories on the main file server which we back up daily.

My speed for a DDS2 DAT has consistently been 48 mb/min and sometimes as high as 70 mb/min across a 100 Base-T net (why the increase over a net I don't understand).

Our shop has 4 NT servers all in one room. I don't have a need for an autoloader or remote admin work (other than what Timbuktu provides). I can see that Retrospect may not provide Enterprise capabilities but it suits our purposes fine.

November 1
Ryan Thomas

a) The "running as a service" issue is very confusing and annoying. The service that Retrospect does install, "Retrospect Launcher" launches retrospect (when a script needs to run) using by default the "System Account" with "Allow service to interact with desktop". When a user logs in during an execution of a script that was initiated by the "System Account", the user can't log out without quitting Retrospect.

I haven't yet tested what happens if you use another account or turn off desktop interactivity. There's nothing in the manual about such options. 

My guess (pure speculation) is that the reason tech support keeps telling people (including me) that it doesn't run as a service is that making any of the above changes is unsupported and when retrospect needs interaction, the process will just sit indefinitely. 

b) Open Files -- there are third party tools that backup open files including support for services like exchange and SQL. I got the impression from Dantz that they weren't interested in working on such a solution at the moment since there are alternatives.

c) Something I didn't see yet mentioned in the discussion at MacWindows that really irks me is lack of support for any kind of email or paging notification. 

Problem with Retrofit backup of NT SFM

July 6, 2001
Pat Camporeale

I'm using a G4 450 MHz with 256 RAM...to backup a numerous Windows NT 4 (SP5 or 6) and one Windows 2000 (SP1). These Windows servers are dedicated as Macintosh file servers. They are running Services for Macintosh and no other shares. The G4 is attached to an ADIC FastStor22 DLT tape library with a Quantum 8000 drive and runs the most current version of Retrospect (Dantz Corp). I am only backing data files that reside on the Mac shared volumes. Not the server's boot drive, not the Registry, nothing administrative, just plain old data files.

When Daylight Savings kicks in, my incremental backup turns into a new backup. Why? After some investigation I noticed that ALL files either go back (October) an hour or go forward (April) an hour. I have tried setting the time manually or with network time server or have automatically set the time according to Daylight Savings on the G4. I do not have any control of the Window servers.

So when all these files have their time changed (+/- 1 hour) it affects the creation and modification time and no longer matches the catalog file that Retrospect uses.

To Retrospect, it seems as is all the files are either new or modified files and my incremental backup becomes a new backup. The program backs everything up thinking that they are new or modified files, which at a technical level, they are. But I can't see a staff of 40 people open and modify tens of thousand files in an hour.

If you've seen this problem, please let us know.


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