The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

E-mail System Causes Problems

3 min read


When the e-mail system stopped functioning on Tuesday, April 6, many students were left frustrated with an empty inbox.

According to reports, students began having difficulties sending and receiving e-mails beginning on Monday.

Megan King, a junior at UMW, was affected by these problems.

“I have a night class on Monday and my group was supposed to do a project, but we couldn’t get in contact with one another. It was very difficult to get all our work together when we had no means of sending it,” King said.

However, despite initial thoughts, UMW was not responsible for this problem. Instead, it was an issue regarding the Microsoft “Live@edu” system.

On Tuesday morning of April 6, Pam Lowery, sent out a message to the UMW campus. The message read:

“Microsoft had a problem with their “Live@edu” e-mail system (the system that handles UMW student e-mail) last evening. While students are now able to log into the e-mail system, messages sent to students are being queued. As a result, delivery of e-mail to UMW students is being delayed. We have logged a ticket with Microsoft, and will continue to monitor the situation carefully.”

UMW was not the only school affected by this problem. Other schools across the nation suffered from this malfunction as well.

Due to the high volume of people affected by this problem, Microsoft provided UMW with an explanation to the problem.

“Microsoft strives to provide exceptional service for all of our customers, and we hold ourselves to the very highest standard. Earlier this week, we didn’t meet it,” Microsoft said in their explanation. “This was due a domain name address resolution (DNS) problem at Microsoft where the domain name used to make the connection was resolving incorrectly.”

According to Microsoft “the problem was fixed at 3:00 p.m. PDT the same day, however, some customers continued to report issues when their clients did not auto-refresh, or update properly (seeing NXDOMAIN error), or on time.”

“We made additional changes Monday evening and Tuesday morning to address this issue,” Microsoft said.

Lowery explains how the issue directly affected the UMW campus.

“One of the symptoms that we experienced was that anyone who sent a message to a UMW student received a notice that the delivery of the message was delayed. Once the initial problem was resolved, there were so many messages that had been sent to UMW students that the messages were queued by the servers.”

According to Lowery, the UMW IT staff monitored this until it was fully resolved on April 7; all messages left UMW and were subsequently delivered.

Lowery hopes the problem will not arise in the future.

“The problem occurred at Microsoft – not at UMW – so we are acting in good faith that their engineers completely corrected the issue,” Lowery said.

UMW’s IT department is also confident that they will continue to use the Microsoft
“Live@edu” system.

“If something isn’t the best choice for the University as a whole, we’ll consider making a change – but we base that decision on many factors, not just one incident,” Lowery said.

Megan Miller, a senior at UMW, hopes that this issue does not happen again in the future.

“E-mail is so important to a college campus,” Miller said. “Especially for me personally since I live off-campus, it is my only way of being updated.”

Although the issue was not UMW’s fault, Lowery reassures the UMW community that the IT staff is continuously working to maintain the e-mail system’s service.

“…[O]ur IT staff constantly monitors the technology at UMW to ensure that it is in the best condition possible to provide the service that members of the UMW community deserve. They also monitor the status of services such as the Live@edu email system – and when there is a problem they work diligently to resolve what they can, escalate issues that cannot be resolved internally to someone who can resolve the issue, or monitor a problem (like the one that just occurred) until it is resolved,” Lowery said.