I have come to believe that we, as a society, are way too dependant on technology, because when that technology fails, we’re fucked.
Most of you know that I work for a small private college on Long Island. My main job is administrative, but I also teach math in the school’s remedial program, which I also run. Part of what I do on a day to day basis, though, is to assist students in choosing what it is they want to take as a major, getting their schedules set for the upcoming semester, dropping and adding course. Basically, I act as a guidance counselor at the college level. Okay, enough background.
In order for me, and the rest of my department, to be able to do our jobs, we have to rely on two pieces of technology. One is our main student information system, server #1. This houses all of a student’s data from schedules and course history to financial aid and personal data. The second is a system, that was set up a couple of years ago especially for our department, houses program data, that is data pertaining to each students major, server #2. This data is organized in such a way as to allow us to see what courses a student has taken and exactly how those courses fit into their particular program. Okay, again, enough background.
Monday afternoon both servers crashed. One of the reasons we had kept the two sets of data separate was so that if one server went down, we still had the other. Well, BOTH SERVERS CRASHED. Now, there is back up. The problem was that the server that houses the backup, server #3, was corrupted when #1 and #2 went down. No one noticed this at first. IT thought they had restored everything on #2 when we started noticing that some files were either missing or corrupted. MAJOR PROBLEM.
So, we spent all day Tuesday with no computers. We couldn’t effectively advise students, we couldn’t register students, we couldn’t even look up the most basic information for students. (Thumb twiddling time.) The other problem we ran into was that #2 contained all of our network drives. All of our individual files were stored on #2. The Dean, the guy that I work for, lost all of his Middle States accreditation data. We have our Middle States review in June. NOT GOOD. (Middle States is the accrediting body for colleges in this country. Without accreditation, colleges can not receive federal funding and students can not receive federal financial aid.) Needless to say, he flipped.
So anyway, this week has been, to say the least, very trying. As it turns out, IT did have what’s called a double redundancy backup system. Data is backed up to a tape system once a week. The tape restore is a slow process, it will take days, and we will have lost about a weeks worth of data. They took the whole system down at noon on Friday and will try to have it all back up by the start of the day on Monday, though they are predicting a snow storm for Monday and I think IT is doing their snow dace right now just to get that extra day to work on the problem.
Now, I have some housework to do, I need to go food shopping, and you’ll excuse me if I’m not around much this weekend. I’ve had enough of computers and technology this week to last me the rest of my life.