Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
As many email-obsessed students quickly realized, Swatmail, the college’s email system, failed to deliver any mail on Sunday. Now the problem is fixed, no messages were lost, and it should not happen again.
According to Robin Jacobsen and Mark Dumic at ITS, the outage was due to a filled partition on a temporary server used to filter spam. “The server was not configured with out system monitoring software, and so we didn’t receive any warnings that the disk was running out of space,” Dumic said in an email. The filled server prohibited the scanning of any mail going into Swatmail accounts, and none was delivered. Outgoing mail was not affected, Dumic said.
The first message refused by the server was at 4:14 p.m. Saturday, according to Jacobsen. The problems were at the point minor, but reappeared in full force at 11:15 a.m. Sunday morning, and no mail was delivered until UNIX System Administrator Fran Gelfand fixed the problem around 6:00 a.m. Monday morning. By noon on Monday, the backlog of Sunday messages were all delivered, and no mail was lost. Gelfand was at a conference and could not be reached for comment.
ITS received the first reports of server problems around 12:45 on Sunday. The message was not posted on the ITS Alerts site until Jacobsen heard about it this morning, a problem she said would be rectified.
A new script has been added to the spam server to alerts ITS to low disk space, so this problem will not recur.