Server outages create havoc for students, teachers

News Residential Life Student Life

Can’t get to your e-mail or P-Drive? Don’t worry, your computer isn’t broken.

Lately, a number of students and faculty have been having difficulty logging in to their e-mail or accessing the P and O-Drives.

Frequent and extreme activity on one of the Novell servers has been causing it to crash, making the network drives inaccessible until the server reboots.

Library Director Julia Schneider explained some inconveniences of the outages.

“It has affected my staff and some of the technical operations they have to do,” Schneider said. “And, of course, students are affected by it.”

It is during peak usage times that Information Technology Services (ITS) has been experiencing these server outages.

The outages seem to transpire from noon to 1 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m., the busiest periods of the day, though outages have occurred during other times as well.

Schneider has even noticed outages early in the morning.

“In fact, I think it was yesterday at 8 a.m. that I couldn’t log in,” Schneider said Tuesday.

Network-based drives such as P:, O:, N:, and individual department drives have been affected.
The main indicator of an outage is when network-based drives become inaccessible.
Jason Michael, a student technician who works the night help desk, said ITS has been getting a lot of calls regarding this issue.

“It causes a panic; if a professor has a power point prepared, it affects the class because they can’t get to their data,” Michael said.

Right now, computers are having to support both the Novell and Microsoft Client environments, though ITS is working on switching over to the Windows Client.

“The server has to work extra hard to support both of those,” Michael said.

Amanda Hash, a technician in Lab 2 of the English, Foreign Languages and Journalism department, is frustrated by these outages.

“The P-drive being down and the P-drive server being down is the biggest issue because students can’t get to their homework,” Hash said.

She said this tends to be an issue in most Technical Communication classes.

Schneider made the point that students and faculty are used to fast Internet, so when a page doesn’t come up, people tend to get impatient.

“None of the outages have been super long,” Schneider said. “We’re just so used to having [pages] come up in two seconds. It is aggravating.” Nonetheless, ITS is taking steps to fix the problem.
A Microsoft server and desktop client environment will replace that of the inconsistent and difficult Novell server and desktop. The Microsoft desktop client exchange began last January, and additional disk drives are being purchased to increase the obtainable shared disk drive space. Originally, this project was scheduled to be completed during the upcoming Winter Break, but because of such a regularity of outages, the ITS staff is working diligently to complete this project right away.

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