My company has 1 computer that operates our main piece of equipment; we run 3 shifts and expect to always have this equipment running. We would like to have a 'hot-swappable' computer backup to keep our equipment going in the event of hardware failure.

We have cloned the disc using Acronis imaging software, which includes a feature of spoofing the hardware ID of the new hard disc. The cloned system successfully loads all the customized software and programming for operating our equipment; the Windows XP and SQL Server 2005 software is fully functional; however, the licenses for an Iconics Genesis32 and Kepserver 5 installation are not recognized.

Both companies have a free license transfer service available for use with planned system swaps. However, in the case of hardware failure they 1)require a tech support subscription at a price that is burdensome for a company as small as we are, 2)have limited support in the off hours or weekends, potentially causing significant production losses if our hardware fails outside of normal business hours, and 3)for at least Kepserver they plan to completely discontinue support in 3-5 years, at which point hardware failure would force us to buy new PLC communication software with the risk of it not being compatible with our legacy system, which could really spiral out of control.

With the image backup, I have attempted both 'regular' images (backing up used areas only) and 'sector-by-sector' backups. I have set up the new hard drive with partitions in the same order and spacing as the in-use drive (the Iconics license, at least, uses something in a FAT16 partition as part of its license verification step). I have restored the image to 3 different Dell systems. All tests have had the same result of these two licenses not being recognized.

Is there anything else I could try to get these two licenses to transfer with the disc image and restore?

  • You’re talking about proprietary software. It will be unlikely anyone can help you here. Are you sure there isn’t a keyfob or other hardware based key the software recognizes plugged in to the production system? Unfortunately, your story is the same story I’ve seen dozens of times in the past. It is already in a death spiral. You can bow to the vendors demands and work within their highly restrictive environment, or buy a completely new system either now or later. This, unfortunately, is the way it is. The system will die, and you will have to replace it. Only question is when. – Appleoddity May 30 at 14:19
  • @Appleoddity - These are software licenses without keyfobs. Another path I am exploring is switching to hardware license with fobs, I just want to make sure I've done everything I can on the software side before declaring that approach a dead end. – Lyrl May 30 at 14:34
up vote 1 down vote accepted

You are talking about proprietary software, so it is not likely anyone here can give you specifics on how the licensing works.

Are you sure the software isn't recognizing a keyfob or other hardware that is plugged in to the system?

I've dealt with this situation many times, and ultimately you are at the mercy of the vendor. But, my best recommendation is that you should proactively work with the vendor to "virtualize" your existing Windows XP system. You should discuss this with the vendor to see if it is possible before proceeding.

This means you will buy a new computer, install a hypervisor like Hyper-V, or VirtualBox, and do a P2V (Physical to Virtual) clone of the existing system. The obsolete system will now run on new hardware, as a virtual computer. Work with the vendor to get the system working and licensed properly in the virtual environment.

Now, you can maintain backups and snapshots of the virtual machine and transfer that virtual machine to any hardware and should not have licensing or hardware issues.

Again, this will require working with the vendor to accomplish. But, if they are flexible, this has been a solution I have implemented for many people in the past. It will allow you to keep an obsolete software system working on newer hardware, with the ease and flexibility of backups and transfers to different hardware if necessary.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.