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A fault recovery system that is fast and reliable is essential to today's networks, as it can be used to minimize the impact of the fault on the operation of the network and the services it provides. This paper proposes a methodology for performing automatic protection switching (APS) in optical networks with arbitrary mesh topologies in order to protect the network from fiber link failures. All fiber links interconnecting the optical switches are assumed to be bidirectional. In the scenario considered, the layout of the protection fibers and the setup of the protection switches is implemented in nonreal time, during the setup of the network. When a fiber link fails, the connections that use that link are automatically restored and their signals are routed to their original destination using the protection fibers and protection switches. The protection process proposed is fast, distributed, and autonomous. It restores the network in real time, without relying on a central manager or a centralized database. It is also independent of the topology and the connection state of the network at the time of the failure.