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Server transfer delays emails

About 200,000 emails affected

A portion of the campus server that handles emails was shut down Thursday morning, causing about 200,000 messages to be delayed.

More than half of the messages were spam, and only students and faculty with aliases, or email addresses using “@unc.edu” instead of “@email.unc.edu,” were affected by the complication, said Michael Bacon, assistant specialist at Information Technology Services.

Alias email addresses are often used because they are easier to remember. Users can also choose a name other than their Onyen with alias addresses, Bacon said.

Bacon said the server was able to receive messages but unable to forward them to the intended recipient between roughly 6 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. Thursday because more hardware was running than usual for the transfer, putting a strain on the campus computer system.

He said the delays resulted from ITS’s effort to replace currently existing servers.

The information on its older servers is being transferred to replace outdated servers, Bacon said.

“In the attempt to move everything over, we are experiencing these issues,” he said.

Tim McGuire, an ITS manager, said the project is set to finish by April 4.

With the new server, both McGuire and Bacon said they expect similar issues to be avoided in the future.

The two also have a plan to prevent the same problem from happening again in the short term, adding that the delay caused by the transfers was unexpected.

“We are putting in special monitoring to find this issue if it happens before the fourth,” McGuire said.

Also in early April, students will have the opportunity to begin opting into the University’s new Microsoft email system, HeelMail.

The switch will become mandatory for students in August, with email addresses being changed to the student’s Onyen followed by “@live.unc.edu.”

However, Bacon said only the transfer of information to new servers — not the preparations for the new system — played a role in the delay.

Thomas Linden, a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has an alias email address but said he wasn’t aware of the issue.

“I didn’t check my email until about noon, so everything looked OK,” Linden said.

After looking through his inbox, he said he had a gap in his emails from about 6 p.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday.

Though the period of time corresponds to when Bacon said the issue occurred, Linden said he wasn’t sure the issue didn’t result from people simply not sending him emails.

Larry Conrad, vice chancellor for ITS, said the department does its best to handle these complications.

“When problems do occur, we scramble like crazy to get things back on the air,” Conrad said.

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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