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