WSO site crashes, data restored but server switch planned

The Williams Students Online (WSO) website faced several technical issues last week, with consequences including the disappearance of archived materials on Willipedia and the discussion boards. Student administrators restored much of the data and now plan to move data to a new server.

According to site administrators, the Sept. 21 crash was due to the WSO server’s partially corrupted hard drive, which resulted in the loss of a large amount of data. Steven Rubin ’11, one of the two site administrators, spent much of the night of Sept. 21 rebooting the troubled server. Chuan Ji ’12, the other administrator, estimated that he spent around 10 hours fixing the site’s problems.

Ji said that the current server had been running for six or seven years. Usually the site has around two million views per year; the server had 13 to 14 million views. According to Ji, this is a longer than average lifespan for the server.

Last Thursday, the WSO team consulted Dave Moore, a previous administrator and graduate of the College. Moore had made a backup of the entire WSO database, allowing the administrators to recover all the data that had been lost on the site. All discussions except those begun during the last two weeks have been fully restored, and Wilipedia is also up and running. The server, however, is still in a fragile state, and not all the site programs are running correctly at this time.

To prevent a future WSO crash, plans are underway to move the site data to a new server. The team hopes to accomplish this task by the end of the week. Rubin and Ji also are organizing a routine system for backing up the site’s data.

“WSO is a student organization [that] is not run or associated with OIT,” Ji said. He added that one of the reasons problems may occur is that there is an immense amount of work input needed to maintain the site, and there simply are not enough WSO team members to accomplish everything quickly.

“The amount of work that the current WSO staff takes on is significant and would be much more manageable if the staff was bigger,” Ji said. “WSO is a very important part of campus life, but we need people to contribute to it as well.”

Plans to switch to the new server had been discussed as early as last semester, but due to the small number of students working for the site, the switch was postponed to the fall.