Some students returning from break had to wait a little longer than expected before plunging back into campus life, as about half of the University’s e-mail system crashed yesterday evening. The situation has come to be a familiar pattern for the campus community, as e-mail has gone down on several occasions, including one outage that lasted an entire work day.

The most recent crash occurred at 6:45 last night and was due to a power outage at the Arbor Lakes Data Center, according to a posting on the Information Technology Central Services website. Two circuits went down and crashed about half of the servers containing IMAP e-mail information, which affects Mulberry and web-based mail among other e-mail applications.

Once the circuits were repaired, ITCS staff brought each e-mail server back up one at a time, effectively staggering when individual e-mail accounts would come back.

While e-mail returned for students throughout the night, student reports indicated that e-mail had returned completely by about 10 p.m. Around 9 p.m., Kitty Bridges, the associate vice president for ITCS, said e-mail could be expected very soon.

ITCS has launched a continuing investigation of e-mail problems, said Kitty Bridges, the associate vice president for ITCS. While the short-term investigation of the Nov. 7 outage yielded inconclusive results, ITCS will also conduct another inquiry for the latest power failure.

She also said an independent power consultant may be brought in to assess the situation in an effort to prevent future power outage problems at the server facility in Arbor Lakes.

Yesterday’s outage was one of several on campus in the past semester. Campus e-mail suffered a brief outage last week before the holiday break, but few students noticed the early morning disruption. Also, 23 University servers crashed on Nov. 7, taking out not just e-mail but also the www.umich.edu web portal and many other University web applications.

The first problems with e-mail this semester came on Sept. 28 when an undisclosed malfunction caused servers to crash. The outage lasted from early afternoon until late into the night.

The ITCS website keeps a frequently updated log of outages and problems. For more information, view the log at http://www.itd.umich.edu/outages/.

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