News

Undergraduates Celebrate Second Consecutive Virtual Housing Day

News

Dean of Students Office Discusses Housing Day, Anti-Racism Goals

News

Renowned Cardiologist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Bernard Lown Dies at 99

News

Native American Nonprofit Accuses Harvard of Violating Federal Graves Protection and Repatriation Act

News

U.S. Reps Assess Biden’s Progress on Immigration at HKS Event

FAS Server Shut Down To Fix Slower E-Mail

By Scott A. Resnick, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Attempts to rectify a College-wide slowdown in e-mail service over recent days culminated last night in a total shutdown of the central FAS Unix system for repair work.

By this morning, the system is expected to be in working order again.

Though unsure of the specific cause of the slowdown, officials pointed to a dramatic increase in the quantity of e-mail received by the University's system, the use of mail retrieval programs, like Eudora, and the flurry of mass mailings, such as election-related messages, as factors that contributed to the problem.

"We began noticing small symptoms sometime Monday morning. Those symptoms worsened over the day and on Monday afternoon...Things were getting very slow," said Rick Osterberg '96, coordinator of residential computing services for FAS computer services.

Computer technicians worked through the night on Tuesday to reduce the delays.

"[M]ail performance during the day [on Tuesday] was very reasonable and speedy. We're optimistic...that users should no longer notice any problems after tonight's downtime," Osterberg said.

E-mail began to back up in queues, instead of being sent immediately, which tipped staffers off to the problem.

Students found delays of certain e-mail accounts and the delivery of certain e-mail messages was delayed up to a day.

Franklin M. Steen, director of computing services for FAS, said the staffers were able to make most of their adjustments without shutting down the system. Though officials announced a suspension of Unix services, including e-mail, from midnight to 8:30 this morning, as of press time, the system had not been shut down.

According to Steen, this was a realtively short interruption of service compared to troubles of last year, when the system was once down for 30 hours.

All the same, "an hour and a half [of downtime] is still not good," Steen said.

Steen said he expected all repairs to be completed by the weekend.

Since the beginning of the semester, he said the number of e-mails sent and received on campus has increased from about 250,000 to 340,000 per day.

According Steen, the amount of e-mail passing through the FAS mail system has virtually doubled every year in recent years.

In order to meet the needs of the nearly 15,000 students, Faculty and staff who have accounts on the FAS system, Steen said computer services made a number of significant upgrades to the Unix servers in the past year.

A hardware restructuring now allows technicians to change the size and configuration of the system, allowing repair to begin without a system shutdown and the number of login machines grew from four to six.

But this is of little comfort to e-mail-dependent students like Eileen woo '01, who said she found the e-mail slowdown extremely inconvenient."There's always the phone still, I guess," she said.

Still, according to Rebecca S. Rosen '99, the slowdown was only a slight annoyance. She said compared to the frequent and serious computer troubles that occurred last year, this problem was less significant.

"Last year you'd log on and the network would just fall down," Rosen said.

To help reduce the e-mail load and prevent this slowdown from happening in the future, computer services advises users to attaching large files--such as videos--to their meassages and not to mass mail during the day

Students found delays of certain e-mail accounts and the delivery of certain e-mail messages was delayed up to a day.

Franklin M. Steen, director of computing services for FAS, said the staffers were able to make most of their adjustments without shutting down the system. Though officials announced a suspension of Unix services, including e-mail, from midnight to 8:30 this morning, as of press time, the system had not been shut down.

According to Steen, this was a realtively short interruption of service compared to troubles of last year, when the system was once down for 30 hours.

All the same, "an hour and a half [of downtime] is still not good," Steen said.

Steen said he expected all repairs to be completed by the weekend.

Since the beginning of the semester, he said the number of e-mails sent and received on campus has increased from about 250,000 to 340,000 per day.

According Steen, the amount of e-mail passing through the FAS mail system has virtually doubled every year in recent years.

In order to meet the needs of the nearly 15,000 students, Faculty and staff who have accounts on the FAS system, Steen said computer services made a number of significant upgrades to the Unix servers in the past year.

A hardware restructuring now allows technicians to change the size and configuration of the system, allowing repair to begin without a system shutdown and the number of login machines grew from four to six.

But this is of little comfort to e-mail-dependent students like Eileen woo '01, who said she found the e-mail slowdown extremely inconvenient."There's always the phone still, I guess," she said.

Still, according to Rebecca S. Rosen '99, the slowdown was only a slight annoyance. She said compared to the frequent and serious computer troubles that occurred last year, this problem was less significant.

"Last year you'd log on and the network would just fall down," Rosen said.

To help reduce the e-mail load and prevent this slowdown from happening in the future, computer services advises users to attaching large files--such as videos--to their meassages and not to mass mail during the day

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags