E-mail Caught in Overstuffed System

Posted: December 8, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Editor’s note: Due to the inclement weather on Friday, this story is being rerun today.

By Fran Rensbarger

At 10 a.m. yesterday morning, there was a backlog of 60,000 e-mail messages waiting to be routed. Exactly what caused the delay is not clear, says Walt Sevon, executive director of Technology Systems Division. There has been a high volume of e-mail, mostly spam, as well as some technical issues with the configuration of the e-mail system.

“The technical issues have been resolved and we have added two additional servers to clear up the e-mail queue,” says Sevon. “We certainly expect the backlog to be cleared by Monday.”

Sevon further explains, “we recently installed a load balancer to keep the routing of messages evenly spread out over the active antivirus servers, and this may have opened up the system to a backlog of messages that previously were held outside of the Mason e-mail system.”

A confusing part of the problem is why some e-mails get delivered immediately and others wait for hours or even days. The antivirus servers handle messages immediately if they can, and if not, the messages go into a queue. The messages in the queue are then delivered after the more recent messages, explaining the delay.

Spam adds significantly to the e-mail backlog, and some estimates put spam at more than 50 percent of all e-mail being received. “We are searching for a spam solution, to get rid of it before it hits each mailbox,” says Sevon, who hopes to have a recommendation in January. “This problem certainly is not unique to George Mason.”

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