Email Outage Update – 11/20/20

Friday 5:25 pm

As of 5:15 pm the new email server was put in place and all faculty/staff mailboxes moved to it so that everyone should once again be able to send and receive email. Please note that you should expect NOT to see your previous email, but instead a nearly empty email box. This is expected and normal, and we are working to restore your previous email and expecting it will take several days. In the meantime, some of the measures below may help you to access your previous data in a local cached file.

If you normally use Outlook Web Access through the GCC web site, when you login you will not see any of your previous email. As we mentioned below in previous updates, this is because the email database is still being restored and it will likely take several days to complete. You should be able to send/receive email regardless in the meantime and we have every expectation right now that we will be able to successfully restore your previous email in time. For now you are at least able to use your GCC email again.

If you normally use Outlook software on your computer to check your email, you should restart it at this time.

When restarting Outlook, you may see a prompt which asks you to choose between the options “Use Temporary Mailbox” or “Use Old Data”. In order to have the capability to send or receive email, you should choose Use Temporary Mailbox. This option will bring you to the new email server, which allows you to send/receive email, but contains no previous email for now. Our intent is to repopulate previous email into your mailbox once the restore process is completed in several days.

In the meantime, if you restart Outlook again and choose the option to “Use Old Data” you will be able to see your old data from before the email server went down. However, you will not be able to send/receive/reply/forward any email in this mode,  only view your old email or calendar data.

You may also see a different prompt when restarting Outlook, which informs you that unsynchronized items will be deleted and gives you the option to “Work Offline”. If you see this prompt, you should choose Work Offline. Then you should follow the instructions in the post below under the title Friday at 12:45 pm to export your email and calendar data to a file. Once you have completed that, that you can restart Outlook again and choose the OK option. You will no longer see your previous emails or data, but you can access them again by following the instructions in the paragraph below.

If you were able to backup your data to a file before we switched to the new email server at 5 pm, you can open that file by choosing the File menu in Outlook and then Open, and then navigating to Documents/Outlook Files and clicking on the backup.pst file there. This will open the file at the bottom of the left column in Outlook under the header “Outlook Data File”. Once it is open you can click on the folders and email contained there and reply/forward those emails as normal.

If you need assistance, please feel free to email helpdesk@gcc.mass.edu and we will get back to you as quickly as possible to try and address your particular situation.

We know this has been a challenging semester for all and that this incident has brought all of us to a whole new level of challenging. We are truly sorry this happened and I can assure everyone that IT staff has been working diligently day and night on this problem and giving it the critical priority it requires. We intend to continue doing so as needed over the weekend and until we have put everything right again. We also intend to do everything necessary to assure this will not happen again in the future.

 

Friday 3:45 pm

The email database continues to be restored and continues to run very slowly. At this point we estimate it may take 4-5 days for the full restore to complete. Because we cannot wait that long to restore email service, we are now planning to move everyone’s email accounts to a new email server which will allow all to send and receive email. We will plan to make this switch at 5 pm today.

Users will not need to do anything on their end except to restart their Outlook client if they are running one. Once the new email server is in place, users should be able to send and receive email normally. Your mailbox will be empty at first with no previous email appearing other than email that may have queued since the server went down just over 24 hours ago. We fully intend to restore all old email to your mailboxes once the restore is completed so the loss of previous email should be temporary. Please also keep in mind that Thursday’s email will not be restored even when the restore is complete since it is from a backup taken Thursday at 2 am.

In the meantime we highly encourage everyone to follow the steps in the previous post below by 5 pm today to backup email or calendar info that exists in your local Outlook client if at all possible. This will provide another way for you to access that data while we continue to run the restore. We will send instructions on how to access that backed up data in the next update after email service is restored.

Please help us get the word out by encouraging your colleagues to watch this page for updates and take the steps below to backup their data if possible. If they cannot for some reason, they should not panic as we still expect to be able to get this data back for them in a few days. But doing so will add another layer of insurance and allow them access to it over the next few days. We appreciate everyone’s patience while we have worked to get email back online again.

Friday 11:45 pm

As of 3:17 pm Thursday afternoon, our faculty/staff email server went down with a database error. Efforts to repair the database overnight failed. We are currently restoring our email database from a backup that was run early Thursday morning. If this restore is successful, we will have all email back in place that was received or sent prior to 2 am Thursday morning. Email received or sent after that time, in other words effectively all day Thursday, will not be restored.

The restore of our email database is currently running very slowly and we are concerned at how long it may take overall. We are looking into ways to potentially speed it up. In the meantime, we are also working on a contingency plan to switch to a fresh new email server that could at least get us functioning to send/receive email while we continue to work on restoring previous email. If the restore continues to take too long, we may put that contingency plan in place.

In the meantime, if you are running Outlook on your work computer or laptop, we recommend that you take the steps below to export your email and calendar in Outlook to a local file so you have access to it regardless of the email server’s status.

On a PC – Export Email

  1. Open Outlook and go to File menu then Open & Export. If you are prompted to login, cancel the prompt.
  2. Choose Import/Export.
  3. Choose Export to a file.
  4. Choose Outlook Data file.
  5. Click on Next.
  6. Select your email address at top of folder list.
  7. Click Next/Finish.
  8. If you are prompted to password protect the file, you should not do so.
  9. Since these steps will back up all your email it will take a while to run.
  10. A file will be saved to your default Documents folder in the subfolder Outlook Files.

On a PC – Export Calendar

  1. Open Outlook and go to your Calendar view. If you are prompted to login, cancel the prompt.
  2. Go to the File menu and in the left column choose the Save Calendar option.
  3. Click on More Options.
  4. From the Date Range pulldown menu, choose your desired Date Range to backup.
  5. From the Details pulldown menu, select Full Details.
  6. Click Save to complete the process. A file will be saved to your default Documents folder.

On a Mac – Export Email and Calendar

  1. Open Outlook and go to File → Export. If you are prompted to login, cancel the prompt.
  2. Make sure Mail and Calendar is checked, then click Continue.
  3. Select the destination folder to save to.
  4. Since these steps will back up all your email it will take a while to run.
  5. A file will be saved in the destination folder you selected in Step 3.