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HCL’s new EC2 technology makes itstheir laptop range of computers ‘self-healing’. It makes it possible to recover from logical system crashes within 60 seconds using highly-compressed snapshots of the entire system.
Data today is perhaps valued almost as much as human life today. If that sounds incredible, then just consider how you would feel if you lost all the information that you had stored on your gadgets and computers.
So, if a technology promises to get your system back in shape within 60 seconds of a logical system crash, it definitely merits a mention. And that is precisely what HCL’s Embedded Continuity and Control (EC2) technology claims to deliver.
Click. Data in a snapshot
EC2 is a hardware component embedded in the motherboard of a laptop. It is accessible through both a Windows and a BIOS interface. You The user can use the Windows interface to instructtell EC2 about how often to create snapshots of the system and other such settings. EC2 then creates a snapshot of the entire system including software and data, at the specified intervals, and stores the latest snapshot in a highly compressed form on the hard disk. The compression is so high, that HCL claims EC2 never takes more than 0.07 percent of the hard drive to store a snapshot.
When your system crashes, you can enter EC2 using its BIOS interface as soon as your computer begins booting, and instruct it to restore the computer to the latest snapshot. This technology helps users recover from logical crashes—that is, system crashes caused due to software failures like: accidental file/folder deletion or overwriting, virus, spyware or Trojan attacks, accidental formatting of any of the hard disk partitions, corruption of registry files and folders, a system malfunction after patch updates, system malfunctions after installation of new software/applications, and the formidable blue screens.
Not all roses
Although EC2 is impressive, it cannot help you if your hard disk crashes because it stores the snapshot on the hard disk.
Another disadvantage of the technology is that it assumes that users detect problems as soon as they happen, whereas problems can often lie simmering for weeks and then suddenly explode in one’s face! For instance, suppose a snapshot was created at 11:00 a.m. At around 11:30 a.m., you receive an e-mail that contains an infected file that somehow tricks your anti-virus solution and the virus starts spreading immediately. Let us assume that it is a virus that makes every Word document you open flicker away to glory, not letting you work. Now, you detect the virus at around 2:30 in the afternoon when you open a Word document. So, you restart your system, get into EC2’s BIOS interface and instruct it to restore the system to the previous snapshot. But, since you have set your system to create snapshots every hour, the snapshot held by EC2 would have been made at 2:00 p.m., which means that the snapshot will also, unfortunately, contain the infected files! So, in a way, EC2 counts on you to detect infections and failures as soon as they happen. That is often not possible.
Ideally, therefore, EC2 should be able to store not just one, but at least a few earlier snapshots so that the user has a choice to revert not just to the only existing snapshot, but to the earliest existing ‘healthy’ snapshot. The company is working to increase the number of snapshots that can be stored, and also plans to add more features to the technology in the coming months and make it more user-friendly.
If they do succeed in making it more effective, the terror inspired by computer crashes will hopefully be a thing of the pastno longer inspire the kind of terror that they do in users today.
By: Anannya Nath, Janani Gopalakrishnan Vikram‘i.t.’ Bureau