Retrospect Blog

In Praise of Proactive

I was talking with a long-time user of our software and asking about the strategies they were using to get the most out of Retrospect. They were making good use of a lot of the power-features of our product, but seemed to have a fairly complicated setup with a number of redundant scripts and schedules. When I asked, "Why are you not using Proactive", their answer was "Isn’t that just for the user to do a backup from their end?"

Well, looks like I have a good topic to cover in the blog…​.

Proactive backup is Policy backup

If we were naming this feature today, we would call this Policy Backup as you, the administrator, set a simple policy, like I want these sources to be backed up every day and Retrospect handles the scheduling. In a regular backup schedule, you set the exact time the backup will begin - which is great if you are backing up your email or source-control server, but less good when Alice, Bob and Chris shut their lids to go meet with a customer right before the backup kicks off. A regular script just logs an error and moves on to the next schedule. Proactive sees Bob and Chris come back an hour later and starts the backup then. Even better, if Bob was backed up yesterday, but Chris has been out of town for the week, a Proactive schedule will back Chris up first.

Policies also include backup sets

One of the fundamental tenets of backup is to have more than one backup (and have them in different locations). You can set up a scheduled script to back up to two different backup sets, but you, the administrator have to decide up front that you want to alternate every day or every week, and that Monday will go to Backup Set A and Tuesday will go to Backup Set B. And if you forget to bring those drives in that day, the backup doesn’t happen. With Proactive, Retrospect will keep all sets in the schedule compliant to your policy to the best of its ability. If you forget to swap out Sets on Monday, it still backs up to the set you have. When you bring in the old set in on Tuesday, it catches up.

More info

Check out our guide to Proactive Backup Scripts in our online user guides.

We also have a table describing when to use Proactive and when to use Scheduled scripts.

For more information about backup strategies, we have a whole section online.

Lastly, check out our 'Using Proactive Backup Scripts' tutorial on YouTube.


JG Heithcock

JG Heithcock is GM at Retrospect and has eighteen years experience in the storage and backup industry.