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Moxa develops automated software recovery system

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Moxa introduces a new recovery utility that automatically rewrites the complete software platform in the event of a catastrophic system crash.

Small corruptions typically work their way into a PC’s software, gradually slowing down the performance, or crashing the system. Eliminating software corruption is a critical concern, especially for systems where five nines of availability and precisely benchmarked high-speed communications are fundamental requirements. 

Moxa Smart Recovery, an automated recovery utility that can restore any software environment to a pristine post-install state offers a safe, reliable, and economical way to address the issue.

Moxa’s new recovery utility is capable of reliable remote administration, provides scheduled rewrites for preventive maintenance, and can rewrite a system that has catastrophically crashed. 

Current market-standard rescue software in the IT industry including platform rescue solutions such as Acronis and Norton Ghost, or open-source solutions such as Clonezilla, operates in user-space - a fatal design flaw, which means recoveries can never be fully automated. Should an operating system crash from software corruption, human interaction is required to reset the system. 

Before any work on recovery can begin, a decision has to be made at what level the backup system would be stored. To guarantee the most accurate and uncorrupted re-writes possible, the backups are written and re-writes performed at the block level, bit-by-bits, rather than simply copying over files. This protects the backup system from corruptions that might creep in during the re-write process. 

Only by guaranteeing that every bit is successfully re-written to the platform’s physical storage medium can the system recovery mechanism guarantee that a successful recovery procedure has been completed and that every fragment of data has been successfully returned to its initial post-install state.

However, Moxa Smart Recovery is integrated with BIOS hooks that allow engineers to configure a watchdog timer, which will trigger a full re-write of the entire suite of installed software including operating system, all applications, and the full system configuration at the block level, using a cached copy created when the system is first set up for deployment. 

When software errors bring down a system protected by Smart Recovery, the computer will automatically go into a soft reboot; after the watchdog recognises the system can no longer boot up, on the next soft reboot the system will flip into Smart Recovery mode. Smart Recovery then re-writes the entire software platform, and attempts to reboot the system. Smart Recovery will fix any failure occurring due to a software corruption.

Moxa’s long familiarity with automated industrial environments has allowed them to assess a broad spectrum of features that are specifically tailored for the needs of industrial automation engineers. With some minor tweaks to the code, it is possible to allow system administrators to set up Smart Recovery so that it can rewrite the software platform at scheduled intervals, each time returning the entire software system to a pristine pre-deployment operating state. These scheduled rewrites give administrators an extremely powerful new tool to use when setting up preventive maintenance procedures. 

This feature also allows system administrators and engineers to set the computer to perform a system recovery at specified time intervals, which will eliminate the slowdowns associated with operating systems that have been in use for a long time. In this way, system engineers can guarantee that a Smart Recovery-equipped device will always function at the benchmarks to which it was initially configured.

While full automation is useful, certain situations will demand user-initiated recoveries as well. Remote recoveries can be initiated from a distant control room or from a local control station on-site by a system administrator who can simply send a call to the device to begin an automated re-write and return the platform to its earliest, most pristine configuration. Remote re-writes give administrators the power of tuning up or rescuing a system remotely, whenever the need arises.

Manual recoveries serve a different type of user, and are initiated at the device’s physical location using a system recovery key and hitting the computer’s reset button to start Smart Recovery. Once the process is completed, the platform will either be returned to its earliest post-install state, or its permanent failure confirmed. These manual recovery keys are perfect for users who are not trained for low-level IT work, as is often the case when computers are used as HMIs for heavy industrial machinery on ships and oil platforms or in solar farms.

Moxa’s Smart Recovery utility offers industrial engineers a new, powerful tool in their administrative toolbox to permanently eliminate the failures and slowdowns that come with the normal wear-and-tear of continuous use.

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