Make the Program Easier to for non-techies


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Gator5000e
Gator5000e
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I find this software extremely difficult to use and understand. I bought the software due to all the rave reviews. Bu after installing it I find it difficult to use. For example, after getting the email today about the bug, I updated the software - of which you get no notice of unless you open the program - and decided to check my logs. I saw that I have no backups after Feb. 28, 2018!! WTF??!! Ok, maybe I should be checking the logs but everything appeared to be working fine up until that date. When I look at my schedules, I saw NONE. No schedules. How were they deleted? No idea. I never changed them. I never received any message that my backups weren't completing of that there were any issues.

So I created a new schedule. The Retention Rules for my new schedule now show No backup sets found, No differential backups found, no incremental backups found. Cripes. This is so frustrating.

Please make this program easier to understand or someone refer me to a reliable program that is easier to use.

Edited 9 May 2018 7:32 PM by Gator5000e
jphughan
jphughan
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I proposed some specific changes along these lines in a Wish List thread a while ago here and it received a positive response from Macrium, so perhaps we'll see some simplification in the future.  In terms of your specific case, one thing you may want to consider is enabling email notifications for both failed and successful jobs, because as you've just seen, if you only have failure notifications enabled, you can't know whether lack of notifications is because everything is going fine, or if nothing is happening at all.

In terms of what may have happened, did you maybe uncheck the "Save job as XML file" option at the very end of the wizard when you first set up a backup?  If so, then your schedules won't work.  Reflect needs to save an XML file (called a "definition file") if you want to use schedules because the XML file contains all of the settings you selected in the wizard, such as what to back up, whether to use compression, encryption, etc.  That's how Reflect knows what you want it to do when a scheduled task calls it.

Lastly, it might help to peruse the Reflect V7 User Guide here if you haven't already.  Macrium's documentation is quite good, and although in an ideal world all software would be intuitive enough to utilize to its full capacity without reading documentation, that isn't always realistic.  That's especially true given that Reflect is one of the more powerful and flexible options on the market, and all else being equal, more capability and flexibility introduces a bit more complexity into the interface.  But given how critical backups are, I would argue that a bit of time spent learning how to use it by reading the manual (and/or asking questions here!) would be time well spent.

Edited 9 May 2018 8:32 PM by jphughan
Gator5000e
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Thanks. I've tried to read the manual but it's not easy to understand for me. As far as the schedule, I didn't change anything that I am aware of. It just stopped working after Feb 28 as far as I can tell. I did create a new schedule. Is there a way to check if I did check the Save option in the new schedule?

jphughan
jphughan
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First go to the Backup Definition Files tab.  That will list any of the jobs you've saved.  If you select one, you'll see the configured settings displayed below it.  And if your right-click it and choose Edit, that's where you can change settings, including your schedule and retention policy.  To make sure that a schedule is in place, go to the Scheduled Backups tab.  That will show you all Reflect scheduled tasks, sorted by which definition file it runs and what type of backup it creates (Full/Diff/Inc).  Make sure that you have an entry there and that it doesn't show as disabled.

Gator5000e
Gator5000e
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Thank you. I really appreciate your help. I will check tomorrow to make sure all worked overnight.

iwj2017
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im amazed people struggle with macrium im tried so many different products and macrium is so powerful yet so easy
Gator5000e
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Well, I'm not well versed in tech things like this. For example, in the user guide about backing up files and folders, this definition is set forth for the Option "Files" - Recurse all folders below the backup folder using the specified filters - Huh? Recurse the backup folder using filters? Could this be more obtuse to the basic consumer? 

Here is another:
Intelligent sector copy - Copy only file system sectors/clusters that are in use. This reduces the time to create the clone as unused file system clusters are not copied.

How does the average home user know what the heck a sector/cluster is? I sure as heck don't.

If you want this as the guide for the experts, fine. But I would bet that most consumers who just want a reliable backup system don't have any idea what all this means.

The user guide is full of statements like this. I know it's frustrating to people who understand this stuff for people who are not to to express this lack of understanding. But I don't have time to get educated in the tech ways of computer hard drives. I just want to set up  backup and be done with it. That is why something like Carbonite is so popular. It's easy to use. I use Macrium cause it's supposed to be more reliable. But for me, who is uneducated in this field of hard drives cmputer science, it's not easy to use.

jphughan
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You clearly see both sides of this quandary, as do I since I am an IT pro who is also de facto free tech support for my very non-techy family and friends, who are a persistent and helpful reminder that things that seem obvious or nearly effortless to me are not at all so for the average person.  Carbonite is certainly a solid product, but part of its simplicity comes from the fact that it does not offer the level of flexibility or compatibility/capability that Reflect does.  Windows File History is about as simple as it can possibly get, but that comes because it's moved even farther away from flexibility and functionality.  Good interface design and documentation can introduce more capability without proportionally increasing complexity to a point, but there's always a limit to that.  Macrium arguably has a particularly difficult balance to strike here because Reflect is certainly used by experts, who often prefer denser and more technical language in documentation because it's usually more clear, precise, and efficient to those who understand it -- but of course Reflect also has a wide user base of average users.  There's no way to simultaneously optimize for all use cases when they span that breadth.  I think that may be at least partly why Macrium has what they have -- precise technical documentation is available for those who need it for their more advanced use cases, and for those who don't understand it or find it overwhelming, Macrium reps are typically very responsive to email, support tickets, and posts on this forum, whether to help resolve a technical problem or simply help understand some settings or provide some recommendations.  They responded to my emails quickly even when I was using the Free version and then trialing the paid version for a client.  And not only did replies arrive quickly, but they were coming from the actual developers, not just first-tier customer support reps with minimal technical knowledge.  If you've seen posts or emails from Nick, he's actually the founder and CEO of the company, in addition to being a developer himself.  This is the only software product I use -- maybe even the only product of any kind that I use -- that enjoys this level of support, and it's actually one of the things that drew me to Reflect.

Of course none of that is to say that there isn't any room for improvement anywhere, but as I said, Macrium arguably has it a bit more difficult than most because their customer base spans such a wide range of technical expertise, which is a consequence of their product being useful across such a wide range of use cases.  But if you ever have any questions, I would certainly encourage you to post them here because other more knowledgeable users and/or Macrium themselves will typically respond very quickly. Smile

Edited 10 May 2018 3:16 PM by jphughan
Gator5000e
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Great, well written response. Thank you. This all started case my backups stopped for whatever reason on Feb 28th. I just realized it yesterday after getting the email about the serious bug. All my schedules had been erased or deleted and no backups since that date. I am grateful i didn't need the backups. Hopefully the ones from February are good. I created a new schedule yesterday along with a new image and rescue disc, so hopefully I am back on track. It was just frustrating.

Drac144
Drac144
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There is an old saying in the computer software industry, "if you make a program foolproof, only a fool will use it". The implication is that the program will be so inflexible and "locked" in its operation, that anyone with more sophisticated needs will be unhappy with the product.

So, yes, a lot of software - especially the powerful, flexible software - is going to have a learning curve.  I have found that what is "intuitive" operation in my opinion is not so intuitive to someone else.  This must drive software developers crazy (and I have created a number of significant programs in my career - so I speak from experience). Trying to create software (or almost any product) that pleases a widely diverse group of people often comes down to being an exercise in futility.  So, the smarter developers choose a demographic and create for them.  Of course limiting the user base limits the profit - and that is a problem.  So if the product takes off, the developer may start adding 'features' that appeal to users outside the original target group.  And the typical endpoint for that is a once great product that no one likes anymore. 

So while Macrium seems to welcome all potential users, and even makes some changes to accommodate their needs, they may not add features that could move them closer to that "foolproof" status that would doom the product.
GO

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