Access to most Internet services hosted by Kansas University was restored Thursday evening after being down for much of the day.
An electrical problem at KU’s Computer Center had limited access to e-mail and websites hosted by KU.
KU’s website had been down most of the late morning and afternoon because of the issue, but was functioning again shortly after 5 p.m.
Blackboard, an online course management system that provides documents, assignments and other communication between teachers and students, was still down late Thursday, but KU officials hoped to have that system back up and running by today.
Jack Martin, a KU spokesman, said that a machine that served as a sort of surge protector and for battery backup for KU’s data center had failed.
Because that piece of equipment served as the link between KU’s data center and the electrical grid, equipment that provided e-mail and connective services to KU lost power shortly after the initial equipment failure, Martin said.
Resolving the problem was a slow process, Martin said, as turning the system back on is not as simple as just flipping a switch. Services were gradually restored throughout the day Thursday.
The university first reported the outage about 11 a.m.
An afternoon without Internet and e-mail service was causing problems for a community used to being constantly plugged in.
“Panic” was the word Jessica Nadeau, a Topeka senior, used to describe it.
Nadeau was sitting in front of a black computer screen in the Budig Hall computer lab about an hour and a half before a 2:30 p.m. exam. She was taking an old-fashioned approach, looking at a textbook and handwritten notes scribbled in a spiral notebook.
“I’m trying to study for a wicked-hard test, and my study guide is online, all nice and filled out, so I’m just trying to go through my notes,” she said. “Not a good day.”
Martin said the provost’s office would be asking faculty members to be flexible with students affected by the outage and to make accommodations when appropriate.
For KU employees, too, not being able to connect in the usual way forced people to improvise.
Joe Harrington, associate professor of English and the department’s director of graduate studies, had Microsoft Word open at his desk.
He was typing in e-mails in Word documents that he would be sending to a number of recipients later.
“It makes you wonder what things would be like if it was out for a long time,” Harrington said. “We’ve become so dependent on it. I mean, it’s really amazing how many things I can’t do because I can’t get on e-mail, I can’t get on Blackboard and I can’t get on all the other things that I use for research and teaching.”
The KU Bookstores announced they would be closing because of the network outage shortly before 1 p.m. A sidewalk sale scheduled for Thursday was pushed back to today in the KU Bookstore at the Kansas Union, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
KU had about half its normal Internet traffic flowing in and out in the early afternoon hours, said Cort Buffington, executive director of KanREN Inc., which provides Internet service to the university. He said he had offered to help with the issue in the morning when it arose, but mainly tried to stay out of the way of those who could fix the problem.