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BE 2010 2896: can't see Restore granular file details under NETBIOS machine name - GRT?, upgrade to R3 SP4?

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I'm still running BE 2010 2896 SP1 on a secondary dedicated backup server to our main file server which is running 3 VMs.  I've noticed lately that I cannot see recent backups in the Restore setup screen, there are only a handful of weekly and monthly tapes showing, no dailies, and going back some time.  I'm also not sure if GRT is working properly or has ever worked -- I'm backing up 2 NT4 VMs (no GRT ever available) and a Windows 2003 Server (W3S) VM on VMWare Hypervisor ESXi, where the W3S VM does support GRT.  The W3S Remote Agent (RA) had never been pushed to the W3S VM, but I could see file details in the Restore window in the past, i.e. I could drop down C: and D: drives and pick files out individually which would then restore OK.   I'm a little confused as to whether GRT per se was working OK without the RA installed for several years -- i.e. is GRT the same thing as being able to restore individual files?  As I've always managed to get files off in the past without the RA installed.  We don't need any special agents on the W3S VM as we're not running Exchange or SQL Server etc.

It worries me that I can no longer see recent backups in the restore list under NETBIOS machine names.  Running 'inventories' and 'catalogs' over inserted tapes does not bring back the recent dated backups in the list.  I've pushed the RA out to the W3S VM to see if that would make any difference, run a couple of backups, then I started to get 'couldn't quiesce' type errors if there was any activity whatsoever on the W3S VM, it would only back up successfully after a reboot with no user sessions connected at all.  The end result was that it therefore often backed up nothing, just left the whole VM off the backup, so I removed the RA again in order to at least achieve a backup of the entire VM if nothing else.  It only seemed to be running one VSS Provider.  I also installed the MS VSS patch for W3S in case it was a VSS problem, no change.

The knowledge base suggests some users had similar problems way back in 2010 -- disappearing lists of dates of backups under the NETBIOS machine name resource tab when setting up a Restore, and they seemed to upgrade their way out of trouble as a fix.

I'm wondering if any and all problems will be solved if I upgrade to BE 2010 R3 SP4?  It seems to require a full install off a DVD at 3.5 Gb of install files -- does such an install preserve all previous settings and backup jobs and logs etc, or is it going to wipe everything clean?

I've put SP1 on the BE install along with a handful of more recent patches -- SP1 has been on for some time.   I have a feeling this installation reports back to a central vSphere server or something elsewhere in the organisation, I'm not sure if that complicates things.

The main thing is that I can back up and restore the W3S VM and get individual files off when necessary.

Any advice gratefully accepted.