close this bookTidBITS#40   19910204
View the documentClones from the Woodwork
View the documentPrivate Parts
View the documentBackup Bits
View the documentReviews/04-Feb-91
View the documentFoot Notes

Backup Bits

In the never-ending effort to implement a disk backup method that offers users both transparency and complete control, SuperMac technology and Dantz Development each recently shipped upgrades to their backup programs, DiskFit 2.0 and Retrospect 1.2.

DiskFit 2.0 is a major upgrade from the previous version and includes a host of new features that promise to make DiskFit competitive with Retrospect as one of the premier backup programs, though DiskFit retains its "feature" of keeping files in Finder-readable format. DiskFit now offers better control over file selection with a tree-like interface for selecting and excluding specific folders (the propaganda doesn't mention whether or not specific files can be included or excluded in this fashion). Files can be excluded by type or creator, which is helpful. Like Retrospect, DiskFit can perform unattended backups, starting up and shutting down automatically. Having this capability internal to the program is important, because workarounds with macro programs like QuicKeys2 work, but they are more subject to error. Again like Retrospect, DiskFit allows the user to define a folder on a hard disk as a subvolume, which can be a useful way to define the data to backup and restore. I guess there was a lower limit before, but DiskFit can now backup and restore files up to 2 gigabytes in size. If your files are larger than that, forget it and buy another backup system. Think of it this way. It would take over 2.5 million 800K floppies and over 17 hours (at 1 meg per minute) to back up that single file. I've got better things to do with my time. The final new feature of DiskFit is an interesting one, considering a new product at Macworld Expo. It is compatible with a number of automatic floppy disk loaders, presumably including the one just released by Fifth Generation Systems, the Jukebox 5. More on that later. Oh, upgrades are $24.95 for DiskFit and $54.95 for Network DiskFit (the same thing but it works over networks and preserves network privileges), but if you bought either one after October 1st, 1990, you get the upgrade for free. Owners of SuperMac hard drives can download the upgrade for free, or pay $14.95 to have SuperMac send you a copy personally (but I don't think it's autographed).

Retrospect 1.2 isn't as major as an upgrade as DiskFit 2.0, but that's mostly because most of the power was already there. Retrospect now offers a simplified way of backing up and restoring. Two buttons have been added to the main screen, Backup and Restore, which do little different from their Archive and Retrieve counterparts, but which offer fewer options and less complexity. There are a few interesting functional changes as well, including the ability to back up multiple sources to single or multiple archives in a single step. In this way, you can save two hard drives onto a single tape in a single step, for instance. Most interesting though, is a companion product, Retrospect Remote, which uses Retrospect 1.2. With Retrospect Remote, you can back up any volume (or part of one) over any AppleTalk network (that's LocalTalk, EtherTalk, and TokenTalk, and perhaps GoTalk soon) to any other storage device. The upgrade price for Retrospect 1.2 is $30 if you purchased it before September 1st, 1990 and free otherwise. The price of Retrospect sits still at $249 and Retrospect Remote (for 10 users) runs $449. Another Remote 10-Pack costs $249. Apply all normal discounts to those prices - Retrospect itself is usually a little more than $150 mail order. For more details on Retrospect 1.2/Remote, wait for our full review issue, coming sometime to a network near you.

Backup programs, particularly ones that do unattended backups, are awfully nice, but most of us probably don't have backup media that we can trust to insert itself into the disk drive at the proper time. A butler would help ("Jeeves, the backup please."), but few of us are blessed with such help. Fifth Generation Systems may have the answer with its Jukebox 5, the closest thing to a butler I'm ever likely to have. For a mere $99, you get a cute little box that feeds up to 15 disks into your Mac's disk drive. And unless your drive is different from mine, there's only room for one disk at a time, so the Jukebox 5 will accept the ejected disk and store it in a hopper. That's the best option for those of us without larger backup volumes. Of course there are limits; you have to limit the incremental backups to 15 disks, which shouldn't be too hard if you do them relatively often, and your backup program must work with the Jukebox 5. I don't know if Retrospect does, but DiskFit claims it should, and I'd be very surprised if Fifth Generation's own Fastback didn't. Jukebox 5 is good for automated copying, if you need to crank out 15 copies of something for a user group or whatnot. There may be other floppy flippers (I should probably trademark that name) but I haven't heard of them, so the Jukebox 5 could be the one to break open the market.

SuperMac Technology -- 408/773-4489
Dantz Development -- 415/849-0293
Fifth Generation Systems -- 800/873-4384 -- 504/291-7221

Information from:
SuperMac propaganda
Dantz propaganda
Fifth Generation propaganda
Ken Hancock -- kenh@hscfsas1.harvard.edu