EMC Retrospect v7.5 for Windows Professional Edition

Review by: Jim Huddle CNE MCNE MCSE CBS ES-RC P+ GSEC, August 2006
Published by: EMC Corporation
Requires: Microsoft Windows Me through XP, 1.5GHz Pentium processor or faster, 512MB RAM, 1GB available hard disk space; Mac version available (Retrospect Desktop Edition)
MSRP: $129.00

With ever larger hard drives comes ever more data to be backed up. Folks with a home office or small business now typically have tens or hundreds of gigabytes worth of data stored on just a few PCs. Backing up that data has always been a pain, or very expensive, or both. With Retrospect for Windows Professional Edition, EMC seems to be taking individual and small business users seriously by providing a backup package that can be as simple or complex as the user requires.

The product installs on an XP box (and others, see Requires above) which contains the storage device. Retrospect Professional also includes licenses for two other Windows PCs so that they can be backed up to the storage PC. The Professional version does not support client software for Windows servers. With Professional, the storage device can be a tape drive, hard drives including USB attached, CD/DVD devices and NAS devices. Tape libraries are not supported with Professional, but if you already have and maintain a tape library then you are probably ready to move up to EMC's Small Business Server anyway.

The included manual is excellent and covers the product's use and limitations very well. This is powerful software and I recommend you spend some time reading the manual before setting up your backup strategy. That's not to say you can't get a backup done right away. The program has a wizard that will walk you through the process. However, to get the most benefit you really should read Chapter Two-Fundamentals and Chapter Three-Hardware at the very least.


Installation is simple and the first time Retrospect loads it will prompt to check for updates. Updates are free and you should let the software check and install updates when it asks.

I used the product with two tape drives: an older Travan 4 I have laying around, and a DDS3 DAT drive. Retrospect recognized both without any issue. Backup to the tape units was decent, with speeds comparable to other software I've used on different platforms. Retrospect does not use its own device drivers for hardware recognition but rather relies on the Windows device subsystem. Though EMC maintains a compatible hardware list, Retrospect may well work with whatever you have even if it's not on the approved list. I also got it to work with my dual layer Liteon DVD burner. It may be on the compatibility list, but I just tried it without checking.

My personal favorite is backing up to an attached USB drive. I picked up a 350GB bare drive and installed it in a Metal Gear Box external USB enclosure. After formatting the drive I ran several backups with speeds beating the tape units hands down. Overall, I think this is a faster, cheaper and more reliable method for the SOHO. Once the backup is completed, just turn off the drive until you need it again.

While the Professional edition does not support client software for servers you can back up data from either Windows or Netware servers. The software backed up any mapped drive I created on either platform and I was able to restore as well. If you have Linux and are using Samba, you can also backup the Samba shares.

I installed one of the two included client licenses on the spouse's PC. It was simple enough and Retrospect picked up the client without issue. I created a backup set for the workstation and backed up the PC just fine.

Retrospect v7.5 for Windows Professional Edition offers many features to allow you to be as granular as you want with backups and as organized as you wish. Good stuff. Recommended.

KSN Product Rating:





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