Students attempting to log on to the FAS server yesterday found perplexing messages on their computer screens saying that connections were impossible.
The unavailability of access to the Internet and e-mail left many users frustrated.
As of early yesterday evening, the Harvard Arts and Sciences Computer Services (HASCS) still had not fixed the servers, which went down at 3:30 a.m. yesterday, according to HASCS Director Franklin M. Steen.
But Steen said HASCS had identified the Network Appliance Box (NAB), which houses the directories for the servers, as the source of the problem.
UNIX systems staff spent the day attempting to fix the machinery, with help from Network Appliance, the company that manufactures the NAB.
Although technicians first thought the problem was in the NAB itself, they later found it was in the software of the NAB.
Steen said he expected the servers to be back up "as soon as possible."
The NAB was acquired last spring, as part of HASCS' improvements to deal with the growing number of computer users at the University.
This was the first time that HASCS has had any problems with the NAB, Steen said.
Not everyone had problems trying to access e-mail. Steen said "pop" servers, like Eudora, were still working yesterday.
The effects on students were varied.
Ying Qian '96-'97 said she found it was "not a big problem."
But other users were inconvenienced by the downtime.
With an important message to send, Abdur-Rahman Syed '99 found himself in a bind: "I can't get back to [my friend] because the e-mail isn't working, and I don't have his phone number."
About 16,000 users currently have e-mail accounts, with up to 200,000 messages being sent each day.
Up to 700 users at a time also use the services to connect to the Internet.