WEB EXCLUSIVE: Webmail expected by 6 a.m.

Posted 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28- Students should be able to send and receive new e-mail via Webmail by 6 a.m. tomorrow, technology officials said this afternoon.

Information Systems and Services technicians expected the e-mail system, which went down on Friday afternoon, to be available as of this evening, but some users’ old e-mail folders did not appear in tests this afternoon. ISS is now running a folder check to re-index these files, which will appear throughout the day for different groups of users.

“We’re placing a priority on student, faculty and staff, then alumni and organizations will be afterwards,” said Charlie Spann, ISS director of information technology services.

Spann said the folder check is about one-third complete, so some users will not see old messages by tomorrow morning. Students can check the Webmail site for updates on when their old mail folders are expected to appear throughout the day.

Spann said it will take “a large portion of the day for all those messages to be delivered, probably into the night.” ISS has queued almost half a million new messages sent to students’ folders throughout the weekend, which will also arrive gradually, though the indicated time sent may be inaccurate.

“They’ll appear as new but might be from Friday or Saturday,” explained Spann, who runs ISS help desk. He said the e-mail server processes 150,000 messages in an average day.

Crews from GW and Sun Microsystems, the company that manufactures GW’s e-mail storage hardware, have been working around the clock since Friday to identify and fix the cause of the severe hardware failure that caused the outage. In the last 24 hours, system administrators replaced failed disks, but stored student mail had to be re-indexed and tested before it could be accessed.

Officials said this test began at about 12:30 p.m., bringing all e-mail activity down temporarily. The test revealed some folders were corrupted when messages were copied from the old storage device to a new one. Some ISS employees on the downed server were not able to see their e-mail history when they logged in.

Spann said the way the e-mail application views the data in the mail message may have been corrupted when the files were transferred, which officials thought may have been solved by the initial re-indexing of new messages. ISS performs routine folder checks about once a week because deleting messages and receiving new mail can corrupt folders. The re-indexing of new messages was not as comprehensive as this folder check program.

“We did not think we would have to run the folder check, we planned to run the folder check as a last resort,” he said, adding the re-indexing brought back some Webmail users’ old mail folders. “It was either have people call us if they have a problem or just do all of them.”

The controller that allows students to view their Webmail inboxes failed Friday afternoon. Sun technicians have not yet identified the cause of the failure, but have sent diagnostic data to company engineers in Colorado for forensic testing.

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