This series of blogs is looking at the how much more resilient a rugged PDA is than a smartphone when it comes to the OS and application persistence.  Yesterday we looked at hard resetting the PDA and today we’re taking a closer look at the persistent storage areas of a device.

What are persistent storage areas?

Persistent storage areas are an area in the devices ROM which is designed to be resilient to hard resets or wipes of most natures.  They are found in pretty much all rugged PDA’s and forms an essential element of a total rugged solution.  Its kind of like having a 2nd drive in your PC, but not quite.

Why do we have them?

You can store all kinds of essential fixes, updates, startup sequences and applications in these areas.  In fact you can install you applications into these areas too so that they can help you lock down and keep your devices running even after hard resets or attempts to wipe or stop the PDA from running.  This also means that you can hard reset your devices without having to re-install essentially applications which can save you £1000’s in lost time and IT effort.

An example of Rugged PDA persistent storage

A Courier application is a classic example of how the persistent storage area can be used.  These Rugged PDA’s are usually “Kiosked” (We’ll talk about that tomorrow) and this means that they run 1 or 2 applications that are essential to the parcel delivery effectiveness of the courier drivers and the business.  This means that, not only the main courier application will be installed into the persistent memory, but a startup file too which will instruct the device to install and only run the specific applications allowed, even after a hard reset.  This allows the IT of the company to perform updates and remedial work remotely on the device that might require a hard reset.  It also means the users can hard reset their devices without breaking them and it is very difficult to basically stop the devices doing what they are meant to be doing.  In  a nutshell, if you break the device, you can get them back running quite quickly.

Tweaking the storage area

Some Rugged PDA’s will even let you tweak the persistent storage area by letting you go into a kind of UDLR menu where you can reformat the area to clean it out but also change its size.  Pidion Rugged PDA’s for example will let you do this and change the storage area from its default 32MB size up to 128MB.  Beware though as you will be taking this directly from your ROM size.

Other ways to do it…

Using the SD Card

A lot of companies use the Storage card method in a similar manner, sometimes because their applications need the space.  A sat-nav app for instance often needs more memory than most rugged PDA’s have in their ROM.  You can use a storage card as persistent memory too, however you need to be aware that storage cards have a more limited life, can be removed from the device and data on them is probably not quite as secure as the main ROM and persistent areas of the devices themselves.

OS Image Re-Write

Again some rugged PDA manufacturers allow you to crack open their OS images to some degree and add applications to them.  This is how they add persistent applications like Skype or Soti to some OS images.  This is a sure-fire way to get your apps totally persistent but it requires skill and you can mess your OS image up totally this way.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.