Students and faculty were left without e-mail access for much of
yesterday and throughout the night due to a malfunction within the
University’s e-mail servers.

The University’s IMAP servers — which control the
mail.umich.edu website and e-mail accounts of most students and
faculty — malfunctioned sometime before noon yesterday.

E-mail for students in the College of Engineering was not
affected.

Teams from the University’s Information Technology Central
Services managed to briefly bring the servers back up for sporadic
service shortly after 9 p.m. last night. However, further problems
were discovered and ITCS shut the server down for the night, saying
it expects to fix the problem by this morning.

University officials said they were not certain of the specific
cause of the server crash, but said it was not related to a
computer virus.

James Hilton, associate provost for academic, information and
instructional technology affairs, said a failure in a component of
the IMAP servers was the cause of the e-mail malfunction
yesterday.

“We don’t know exactly why the component
failed,” he said, adding, “It’s not that
we’ve been hit by a virus.”

Hilton said after the server is restored, ITCS will begin
examining the service to determine the specific cause of the
failure and to prevent future problems.

That gives little comfort to students affected by the
stoppage.

LSA senior Emilio Dirlikov, whose study-abroad application is
due today, said the e-mail failure hindered his ability to
communicate with his adviser. Because they could not reach each
other through email, Dirlikov was forced to skip class to
converse.

“I had to do the old-school thing,” Dirlikov
said.

Other affected students had different kinds of deadlines to
meet.

LSA sophomore Alice Zheng said a research project that is due
today would not be of the highest caliber. Without e-mail, Zheng
was unable to have her project read and corrected by a
professor.

“College is a very minute-to-minute life, and it is
important to use (e-mail) to stay on top of meetings and
assignments,” she said.

Hilton said ITCS would be unable to get the servers running
during the night because most of the ITCS technicians were
exhausted after working nonstop for about 12 hours to fix the
server problem. He added that they were short-handed because half
the staff was sick with strep throat.

Hilton said if the technicians were not able to repair the
servers and ensure that they were functioning properly, the
University would go ahead and shut down the operation until the
next morning.

“I don’t want (the technicians) to fix it when
they’re exhausted, ’cause that’s when you make
big mistakes,” he said. Hilton added that if the server was
left on while not functioning properly, more problems could surface
and would prolong the repair process.

— Daily Staff Reporter Donn M. Fresard contributed to
this report.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.