CSL: Retrospect Backup Server

The lab staff offers faculty members access to a backup server so that they can backup their personal computers and laptops. This backup server runs Retrospect backup software, and will back up PC's running both Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS operating systems. A full backup is performed yearly and the backup tapes are archived for a period of 2 years.

Client Installation

To use the backup server, you must first download the latest Retrospect client for your computer; free client installers for both Windows and MacOS can be found on the Retrospect web site.

During the client installation, you will be prompted for a password; this password allows the backup server to initiate access to your machine. You must provide this password to the lab staff in order to have your machine added to the backup server. Once your machine has been added, this password is no longer required (in fact, the lab staff will change the password after initiating access) so please choose a non-obvious one.

If you are prompted to create an firewall rule to allow the retrospect application through, do so. If you are not prompted, you will need to manually configure an exception. Windows clients need only run few commands.

In the interest of keeping the backup server accessible, the lab staff suggest that users not catalog their entire PC, in particular files which can be restored more efficiently from installation media (operating system, application installations, etc...). Users are encouraged to keep all their files they wish to have backed up in a single folder (or a small set of folders if necessary). You should provide the path to this folder in your request, so that it may be configured on the server. Note: if the folder is a system-aliased file, such as My Documents, please list the full path to this file (i.e. C:\Documents and Settings\user\My Documents).

Once the client is installed, please contact the Lab Staff to have your machines added to the backup server's client list. Please provide the following information:

Machine name:   IP address
Password:   to allow initial access by server
Data directory:   path to files you wish backed up

Client Configuration and Usage

The installer places a Retrospect control panel on the computer; all user interaction with the backup server is controlled through this. Figure 1 shows the Status pane of the control panel. The backup history is displayed here as well as the current status. The client may be deactivated here to prevent a backup from occuring while using the machine.

Retrospect Control Panel
Figure 1. Retrospect Client's Status Tab
Start → Control Panel → Retrospect Client

Figure 2 shows the Proactive Backup pane of the control panel. This controls the frequency of backups; the default setting is According to the normal schedule, which is currently once per day. A computer placed on the network that has not been backed up for more than a week will immediately be placed in a queue for backup. Note that Retrospect performs incremental backups, so if there are no new files at backup time, the server will exit after checking the dates of the backup directory. If the user has new files that need to be backed up, they can choose the "As soon as possible" option and click Apply. This will immediately queue the machine to be backed up.

Figure 2. Retrospect Client's Backup Server Tab
Start → Control Panel → Retrospect Client

The backup server runs continuously, so users may have their computers backed up at any time. The exception will be during the administrative PC backups which begin daily at 7:00pm; the backup server will defer new backup requests shortly before these backups take place, and will resume once these backups have completed. Users who try to backup their machines up during this time will have the execution deferred until the administrative backups complete.

Once the user's computer is configured in the backup server, requests to restore files should be sent to the Lab Staff. Note that due to the incremental backup scheme, different versions of files from different dates can be restored, not simply "the last copy". Please contact the Lab Staff if you have further questions.