A Review of Memeo LifeAgent for Mac


Shortly after I acquired my MacBook, I was disappointed to discover that Apple had designed lobotomized Time Machine so it wouldn’t work with generic network storage — e.g., with a NAS.

There’s no good technical reason why Time Machine should require disks formatted in Apple’s HPS+ file system.  The file system should be entirely abstracted. The only reason for requiring an HPS+ disk on the other end of the wire (or wireless connection) is for short-term revenue.  If you believe anything else, I own a bridge in Brooklyn that I wish to sell you.

So, to my search for new network storage on my home network, I included looking for a Mac backup solution.  I wound up buying a 2TB Buffalo LinkStation Pro Duo in April, which came with Memeo backup software.  Memeo LifeAgent for Mac seemed like a great solution.  

A philosophical detour

I prefer scheduled backups (the standard backup paradigm) over backup-as-you-modify (the paradigm of some consumer backup apps, like LifeAgent). I’d rather incur backup overhead at discrete points, amortized over all file changes since the last execution, rather than continuously, with smaller overhead penalties occurring on every change. But I get how laypeople can more easily understand, “it runs all the time and saves every file you modify,” than the configuration steps needed in a standard backup application.

But the consumer backup apps tend to be cheaper, so, I compromised on this in order to save a dime.

Back to the story

After setting up the LinkStation Pro Duo, I installed LifeAgent, and applied all the available updates. I then configured it to back up my folders and files to the NAS drive. I set up my account to always connect the NAS drive upon login. Then, I rebooted, logged in, and verified that everything was working as expected. This all went smoothly.

The first backup took a long time, but after that, the client woke up only after a file modification.  After a while, I turned off the notification displays. Things were working smoothly, and I began to forget about it…

LifeAgent starts to suck

…Until around the fifth day, when I noticed my system being very sluggish. A quick check of iStat Pro made it clear that some process had gone berserk. 100% CPU utilization on a dual-core 2.6GHz processor is a whole lotta something!

Rebooted, and the same thing happened.  Opened a Terminal window and ran top, and I found a process called Memod going bonkers.

Memod would suck up 100% of the CPU for about 20 seconds, then retreat for a short period, and then return to 100%. Because I had just finished using Quicken, I guessed it had something to do with my running Quicken in a VMware Fusion virtual machine. But a backup application should be able to process large files, yes? (When just one virtual file changes, the virtual machine state changes, so LifeAgent must backup the entire umpteen-gigabyte file.)

Memeo has a number of support forums, including one for LifeAgent for Mac. So on May 7 I wrote about this problem. There was a quick initial response from a Memeo admin — which was great!  The admin asked for more details, which I supplied, and said they planned “to release an update by the end of the month if not sooner.” Excellent.

LifeAgent support starts to suck

But it’s now June 5, over one month later.  And there’s no fix. Worse, there’re no responses from Memeo to questions about the fix’s status.

A couple other LifeAgent users replied in the thread, reporting they had the same problem. One was backing up to an eternal disk via Airport Extreme, and the other to a Time Capsule and two USB drives.  While a few of us are reporting this problem, there must be many other affected users who just haven’t spoken up.

Memeo’s Windows’ forums have a fair amount of activity.  So, maybe they have a much larger revenue stream from the Windows products, and they give LifeAgent bugs a lower priority. But-but-but this bug makes their product unusable! And folks, it doesn’t just happen on some antiquated disk, or in a corner case.  I suspect this bug is central to their application’s design.

That Memo would not fix the bug is bad enough. But to not keep their user base appraised of the fix, and to not post a workaround, rather sucks.

So:

  1. Memo LifeAgent for Mac has a serious bug that renders it useless for some users.
  2. After an initial indication they would fix the bug, Memeo has ceased communicating about it.
  3. If you’re considering Memeo LifeAgent as a backup solution, you should look elsewhere.
21 comments
  1. John said:

    I too have been having trouble with Memeo LifeAgent.

    The software was on a LaCie backup harddisk that I bought. At the time I was not sure as to whether it was part of the whole backup system, so I installed it.

    That was the start of my troubles on a new iMac dual core cpu Leopard system.

    It got the computer backup system tied in knots, to the extent that in desparation I put the software into the “trash bin”.

    That was my first wrong move, as I later discovered, as there is a a special piece of software included that will un-install Memeo fully.

    Having removed the software I was left with an annoying “Memeo” icon in the top left hand corner of the iMac. AppleCare tried to help me remove it, but with no success.

    Later on a forum I discovered how to remove the icon, but for that sesion ONLY, as it turned out. On re-booting the dreaded icon returned.

    Another forum told me about the software for fully un-installing Memeo, BUT…. as I had “trashed”it during my initial removal of the software that was of no help. They also told me of another way of removing the the icon, BUT AGAIN only for that session, as on re-booting it returns to haunt one again.

    Any ideas anyone how to get rid of ‘Memeo Lifeagent” in it’s entirety ?

    Being a Mac novice it’s like jumping in at the deep end to be confronted with questionable software messing up the system.

    • leo said:

      Hey better late than never

      http://blog.justindorfman.com/2008/12/how-to-completely-uninstall-memeo.html

  2. John said:

    @John: It sounds like the Memeo developers are still selling a very un-Mac mac application. Yikes! You’re supposed to be able to uninstall a Mac app by just deleting its folder.

    I found a tutorial about adding icons to your Menu Bar. Check it out – maybe deleting the memeo file from the folder Menu Extras (if it exists there…) would fix your problem.

    Another (brute force) option would be to search for files with “memeo” in the filename, and delete them. Then, reboot.

    Another suggestion, try posting your question in a Mac user forum, like http://www.mac-forums.com/forums/ or http://www.machelpforum.com/index.php.

    FWIW, it’s not the Mac that’s the problem here…it’s the Memeo developers.

  3. JLG said:

    Agreed. I have had an ongoing problem with Memeo for the last month. Unanswered requests for support… no customer service phone number… responses are taking more than a week and still don’t resolve anything.

    Did you figure out how to uninstall LifeAgent? Were you able to get a refund?

  4. John said:

    @JLG: I didn’t have a problem uninstalling LifeAgent, and I didn’t receive any follow-up from @John. I never bothered trying to get a refund…it was included in my LinkStation purchase, so I considered it as a “life experience.”

  5. Gordo said:

    Just reinstall the memeo lifeagent from the web and then use the uninstall program to get rid of the annoying icon on the menu bar.

  6. Nathan said:

    @John

    It worked, I reinstalled it and just used the uninstall program it had instead of throwing it in the trash like what macs usually do and it went away. thanks

  7. John said:

    This program is like a cancer on my Mac. Thanks for the tips for uninstalling. Selling this kind of product should be illegal.

  8. Richard said:

    Tried re-installing from the web and uninstalling using the memeo uninstaller and it worked perfectly.

  9. Anne said:

    Well, Crap!

    I just paid $29.95 for this Memeo.
    Trial came with My Book (Western Digital external)
    Wish I’d known to read here first!

    I’m on a PowerBook G4 – and of course I bought my mac just before they went from 80 GB to 120 BG. I’m contemplating a new iMac, but thought I’d try this first.

    Any suggestions. I’m really more interested in external storage to free up the Powerbook than backing up business files,etc. Although I would hate to lose my photos.
    TX

  10. Becky said:

    I am in the same boat as Anne. I just purchased this software last night, as a trial version came with my external hard drive, WD My Book.

    I wanted to back up the entire contents of my computer, including the applications, because I’ve been having such a hard time with my 3 year old iMac, and if it should go under, I wanted to have my stuff safe for my next computer.

    The initial backup has been running all night, and it still says I have 150 hours remaining! My guess it is stopped running during the night, even though I changed the settings for the computer not to go to sleep.

    I hope I haven’t made a mistake. I feel like I could have dragged and dropped the entire contents of my computer easier than this.

    • John said:

      “I hope I haven’t made a mistake.” You’ve made a mistake. 🙂 My condolences.

      Elsewhere on my blog you’ll find a negative review of Retrospect 8 for Mac. Don’t buy that, either.

      I’ve heard positive things about BRU. Maybe give that a try.

  11. Lance Recker said:

    Skip Memeo. Buy Super Duper. Same price, much better.

    http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html

    Lance

  12. Andrea said:

    Working on a Mac Mini, running Tiger.

    I also bought ‘My Book’ external drive and it came with a trial version of Memeo, which I installed (regrettably). I did the proper un-install and now I’m rid of Memeo, BUT how do I regain access to my drive? It does not come up on my desktop any longer?

    What do I do?

  13. David said:

    Andrea, I’m one step behind you. I installed the Memeo wich came with my WD hard drive. Yes, I thought this was part of WD and included with the HD, not a separate entity and only trial software.

    Anyway, now I’ve got lots of info backed up onto the WD HD having used the Memeo back in late ’08, and since that time the trial has ended.

    I can still “see” the info on my HD which is great but my backup is “really old”. I wish I was hearing better things about Memeo. If so, I’d just buy a license & fire that back up – but it doesn’t sound from the reviews that is a good idea.

    I’d like to start using Time Machine, maybe, but I don’t know if some of the stuff I backed up was subsequently REMOVED from my actual main HD on the Mac. I may have kicked some stuff off in an effort to clear off the HD – I don’t remember. I’d hate to find out the hard way.

    Sorry for taking up your time.

  14. Sharon said:

    I also purchased the HD and installed the Memeo. Computer has been slow ever since. I also have the annoying arrow circle thing with an exclamation point, which lets me know every stinkin’ day that my files have not been backed up. This is going on a year (June ’08).

    I am stuck between terrified if I do something to the Memeo and terrified that my computer will crash and NONE of my pics are saved. A small amount of information was saved during the Trial Period, but since it has been so long I have no clue what it may be! In addition, if I haven’t needed it in a year — do I still?

    I cannot access much and what I can, is in code…
    Had HD with my PC and there was no Memeo, which is why I purchased the same for Mac. I am not a happy camper and there are days I still want my PC! (cringing — don’t send hate posts)

    Products should not claim to be Mac compatible when there are still so many kinks to be worked out — as evidenced by this thread.

    Thanks for the rant. Will try the install and uninstall off the internet.

  15. All these e-mails start saying “I successfully uninstalled Memeo” about half way down—but no one says where to find the uninstall option. I have reviewed the menus and can’t find it. Please run through the steps for me. Thanks!

  16. Sid said:

    Memeo backup came with my Seagate ultra portable external drive which I bought just yesterday. Within a day my mac was running at 100% cpu with 80 degree heat and would not quit. I found a folder in /Applications and it had an Uninstall app for this piece of c**p – finally free of badware.

    I am going to time machine now and if that does not work will try Carbon Copy or Super Duper which seem to have good reviews.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: