Backup failure notification


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emtee
emtee
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I'm wondering if I've missed something, but Reflect has failed to backup for the past few weeks (the drive had become unplugged) and I've not been notified.

I'd expect some form of on-screen notification when I next get back to the computer, as this is critical information. Have I missed a setting somewhere?

I know that there's an email option, but this PC is rarely connected to the internet.

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jphughan
jphughan
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For scheduled backups, I don't believe there are on-screen notifications because scheduled tasks, at least those configured to run as a different user (and I believe in some configurations even when configured to run as the same user) cannot natively generate popup dialogs in the interactive session, at least not without some sort of service acting as an intermediary.  Reflect admittedly does have such a service, but it is not set up to do this.  And in server use cases, there may not be anyone logged onto the server very often to begin with, or there might be multiple interactive logons active simultaneously.  If email notifications aren't an option, then you would have to either check the Log tab within Reflect judiciously or else implement something separately, such as attaching a task to the Event Viewer ID type that Reflect throws for failed jobs, or calling Reflect as part of a script that completes differently based on the result of the call to Reflect in order to run the backup.  Note that checking the Log tab judiciously is a good practice anyway because that would verify that the job actually ran.  If you only wait to see notifications of failures rather than also getting positive confirmations of success, then you won't know whether "radio silence" indicates that everything is working fine or whether jobs simply aren't running at all.

(EDIT: I believe this has improved in V7 since there is now a way to monitor the progress of backups that are running in another user's context, and if you're running Windows 8 / Server 2012 or newer, it supports the Windows Notifications feature.)

Edited 26 February 2018 5:02 PM by jphughan
emtee
emtee
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I'm just staggered that one of the most critical issues of an automated backup process (ie a high priority indication that a backup has failed) is not available.

If backup is anywhere near important, any automated backup process that has failed should itself be shouting the failure from the rooftops - and it isn't impossible (especially, as you say, Reflect already has the service available).

I can see multiple ways of implementing this, even just having the option to execute a script/program on successful or unsuccessful completion. I see v7 has an option to execute something on start or finish, but not on success or failure.

The only solution for me at the moment, because it is so critical, is to write a program that periodically checks the log folder, looks for logs it hasn't examined, parses them and reports with a popup accordingly.


Edited 26 February 2018 6:31 PM by emtee
jphughan
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Yes I suppose failure notifications could be made more "shouty" -- maybe the Reflect system tray icon that exists in V7 could persist with a warning overlay when a job has failed until the alert was acknowledged, for example.  And if nobody was logged on when the job ran, it could pop up a dialog at the next logon that says, "There have been X failed jobs since the last user logon" -- although neither of those would be especially helpful in server use cases where there may be very long periods between interactive logons.  But just as data points, the only other backup applications I've worked with in depth have been several versions of Veritas (later Symantec) Backup Exec, Retrospect, and the built-in Windows Backup tool, and none of those did things like this either, even though the first two serve arguably more critical roles in that they can be tasked with backing up multiple remote systems through agents, rather like Macrium Site Manager.

In terms of what IS available, Reflect's return code on completion is different based on the result of the job, so as long as you know how to work with batch files, VBScript, or PowerShell, you already have a "hook" that would allow doing something differently when a job fails.  You'd start by having Reflect generate the initial script in the desired language, which will capture the return code from the job as a variable, and then customize subsequent action based on the value of that variable as needed.  Otherwise, "shouting from the rooftops" is usually accomplished via email (plus possibly some mailbox-side rules to flag failure notifications), since even in situations where Internet connectivity isn't available to the PC running Reflect, there may still be an internal mail server or SMTP relay on the LAN that could allow this functionality to be used.  But there are undoubtedly also cases where a system is kept off the Internet and there are no local SMTP resources available.  And again, with V7 and a sufficiently recent version of Windows, there are also now Windows notifications, although a user has to be logged on at the time the notification is generated, which I suspect is a Windows limitation.

And out of curiosity, what is the "trivial programming exercise" to send a message to a user in an AD environment?  The only thing I know of that resembles that is the Windows Messenger service, but that was disabled by default starting with XP SP2, and if memory serves, that sent the message to a particular computer, not to an AD user regardless of what device they were logged onto.

Edited 26 February 2018 7:15 PM by jphughan
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