Retrospect Backup 5.0

Retrospect Backup
Company: Dantz Development Corporation

Price: $49.00 and up

Why bother?

Because you WILL LOSE CRUCIAL DATA ONE DAY unless you have secure copies, archives, or backups.

What’s the difference, Nemo?

Prior to OS X, you could drag/copy just about anything and everything onto most external and/or removable drives, and then retrieves your data from them when needed. OS X is not quite so easy to archive or copy from or to, because of the inherent architecture of its system software.

You forgot formatted backups!

Be patient. Dantz’s Retrospect has the capability to duplicate, relocate, retrieve, and restore your data in different formats. Most serious MacPersons use Retro’s proprietary formatting features, due to their built-in ease of putting everything back where and how it was in the first place.

Retrospect Backup is one of our favorite Macintosh applications, and version 5 for OS X maintains the high standard we expect from Dantz, one of our favorite software companies. has reviewed previous editions of Retrospect, all positively, and you can read more praise in the comments that follow. Short summary: purchase this product immediately and use it religiously.

Retrospect comes in several different versions. Most home users will be satisfied with Retrospect Express Backup, while networkers will require enhanced features and capacity. You can read all about their range of products at Please ask Dantz for help if you are completely stumped.

In addition to a single installation CD, the company provides a 261 page printed manual which is thorough and complete. Additional FAQ assistance is available, again from the Dantz website. You MUST READ the introductory tutorial section in their printed guide, especially if you are not already familiar with Retrospect. Throughout this booklet are countless power-user functions and scripts, troubleshooting and Q&A sections, glossary and list of computer error codes (amen) and symbol definitions, plus tons more. Good reading for those chilly winter nights.

Installation is a breeze, and includes folders with tutorials and other useful PDFs. The “Easy Install” option of 120 items took only a few seconds on an iMac DV 400MHz running OS X Jaguar v.10.2.2, booted from a WiebeTech DesktopGB powered external FireWire drive. A new Retrospect 5.0 folder is created, with the Retrospect application inside it.

After entering your license registration code and registering the software, launch Retrospect for the first time and encounter its “Retrospect Directory” window. Click on “Immediate Backup,” then “Backup,” to get its juices flowing. To test a partial disk backup, I chose “Subvolume,” then selected my 465MB OS X System Folder, clicked OK, and created a file for my new backup data.

This is an important decision! At first you may be confused whether to select “file” or “removable disk,” but if you read all the pertinent help info you will understand the difference. I was backing up onto a bus-powered FireWire drive from SmartDisk, which is considered a Macintosh file and not a removable disk. Confused? You won’t be after working through the procedure once or twice.

I chose Security -> Secure, without password or encryption, agreed to call my file “Backup Set A,” and clicked OK. In the “Immediate Backup” window my source was the System Folder, and my destination was “Backup Set A.” If I’m losing you here, trust me, it’s not really all that complicated, and well worth your effort. Promise.

Verification was turned off (in “Options”) during this initial test, but I normally keep it switched on. I clicked on Backup -> Really Execute, and 5892 files were backed up in three minutes, averaging 134MB/minute transfer speed (that’s very quick).

Once your backup is completed, Retrospect emits a friendly noise, with the message “Execution completed successfully.” You can then quit the application and make sure your new Backup Set is fine and dandy, ready to be restored when necessary. Store it off site for extra safety.

Nemo is a regular diligent user of Retrospect, and has been ever since losing an entire hard disk and Zip drive’s worth of data years ago. Ugh. Never again. In OS X, the latest versions of Retrospect function just about the same as in the past, which we applaud. Dantz’s slightly idiosyncratic interface and dialog box choices become familiar with repeat usage, and are well worth the initial small learning curve. Many preference settings are available to help you fine-tune your personal usage of Retrospect.

Remember I backed up only one folder. Users have complete choice of what to backup, when, and how often. Many of you will be backing up to removable media, and Retrospect supports them all, including CD-R or CD-RW.

This application in all its flavors is stable, versatile, and essential to the serious Macintosher. .Dantz has extensive supplementary information on their products from the Support link at their home page, including free software upgrades.

Nemo’s “Q/D/S/V Standard” for all product reviews:

Q = QUALITY, including ease of installation, performance, stability, and general happy relationship with everything on my system;

D = DOCUMENTATION, both printed and electronic, plus appropriate website material;

S = SUPPORT, in the form of email, phone, and web updates;

V = VALUE, which includes both original cost and subsequent expenses.

MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5
Fantastic product! Well worth your money and investment. The best of its kind.

John Nemerovski

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