Iowa State University

ITInformation Technology

Behind the scenes: This week's WebMail outage

This news item expired April 29, 2005. It may contain out-of-date information.
This week's WebMail outage was fairly extensive. While knowing what happened doesn't make up for being without access to email, we thought you'd want to know some of the details.

A departmental machine (with its own problems) was the beginning source of what became problems for WebMail. The departmental machine was sending requests for data to a central file server; however, the requests were corrupted because of failing hardware on the departmental machine.

The file server was unable to fulfill the corrupt requests but dutifully kept dedicating more of its resources attempting to process the requests. In time, the file server had no resources left to
allocate to WebMail's requests. At that point, WebMail slowed to a crawl and was inaccessible.

Similar problems caused some of the web servers to be inaccessible as well.

The machine at the source of the problem was blocked from Internet access and brought in for further analysis.