Good. Evil. Bratwurst.

I won’t, Dantz, don’t ask me

Posted on by arlen

Moving on from Retrospect. The tech support dept is lousy, the product is slow and clunky. The last straw?

My mother’s biege G3 needed a new backup device. She’d been using a Zip drive, then moved on to a Yamaha SCSI-based CD-RW. Then we found a DVD-RW (USB and Firewire) for her. The Dantz support pages said it was supported, and it even came with a new version of Retrospect Express) so we bought it.

No joy. We tried it via the USB first, and had lots of issues. So we went out and bought a firewire card for it. OK, now just for testing purposes we burned a DVD copy of one of her partitions, then another DVD of the other two partitions. Total elapsed time was about 1.5 hours. Long, but not unacceptable. So we fired up Retrospect. First her copy (5.1) then the copy of Express that came with the drive.

After 2 days we gave up. It wasn’t writing anything, even if left to its own devices for 3 hours and more. Of course this was the weekend, so Dantz Tech Support was unavailable. So I made time to return to Mom’s on Monday morning to help get this resolved. After a while on hold I got to have a conversation with a tech non-support person who quite obviously had no clue at all about the product. The first story I got was that the drive was unsupported. He couldn’t find it listed in his “supported devices” list. Don’t know what list he was using, but the website clearly has it listed as supported. He then went on to try and get me to buy the full version of Retrospect, since Express didn’t support this drive. (It’s an OWC Mercury Pro 106, if you’re interested in double-checking my statement.)

Giving up on tech support, I went back to work on the drive (along the way I’d bought a small amount of every writeable DVD medium, just in case — I could use the ones that didn’t work for her on my system, so no loss) and discovered something: It hung forever on DVD-R media, but DVD+RW media was working, after a fashion. So I managed to get Mom’s backups working, but it took 2.5 times as long to do it as it took to simply clone the partitions with the DVD writing software supplied with the drive.

Then, at the end of the process, it coughed up an “assertion failure”. Being a developer myself, and knowing I wanted to hear about anything like that when it happens in my code, I used the Dantz website to report the bug. A long time later (at least 24 hours) we received a rather curt email back from Dantz saying that we should call a phone number and pay a charge. Let’s see, you want me to pay you for the priviledge of reporting a bug that your own developers had the foresight to trap with assert()? Right, I can really see that happening. Yep.

It’s time to move on. I feel like I’m leaving an old friend (I’ve been a retrospect customer on my systems since version 2.x, and Mom’s been using it since 3.x). But when companies start behaving like this, my biggest urge to get a replacement product and move my data quickly, so I don’t get caught in the downpour when the roof falls in.

So I’m off to examine other OSX backup utilities. I got a copy of Silverkeeper with an external drive, but I’m not impressed. Anyone else out there got a favorite?

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May 2005
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