All computer users should plan their end-of-year backup carefully. If you already have a regular backup strategy, the end of the year may not require any special considerations -- the regular schedule may suffice.
If you back up to local media (Zip, Jazz or tape drives, for example), you should take immediate steps to insure that you have adequate supplies on hand and should adjust your back-up schedules to reflect a December 30 cessation of transactions and the closure of MIT offices on December 31.
No one should wait until the last minute to plan for or execute these year-end backups.
Users that take advantage of the ADSTAR Distributed Storage Manager (ADSM) to back up data over MIT networks should plan to conduct their last incremental backup of the year well before the end of business on December 30 in anticipation of high demand for this service.
Regularly scheduled incremental ADSM backups set to fall on Friday, December 31 will be shifted 12 hours earlier to start at 6am on Friday. No user intervention is needed to accommodate this one-time schedule shift. There are no ADSM backups scheduled on Saturdays.
Shut down and power-off desktop computers on or before December 30. This action is recommended so that the clock chip rollover is less likely to be problematic and can be observed during a subsequent power-up. This will also protect desktop systems from possible power fluctuations, malicious online attacks (which have been predicted) and the "blue screen of death" that can occur on NT clients when there is a server failure.
On January 4, users should check the date in their computers' control panels for accuracy.
DEPARTMENTAL AND WORKGROUP SERVERS
The decision to shut down a departmental or workgroup server must be made on a local basis and in consideration of the risks involved. In any event, a proper system backup should be made in anticipation of the New Year's weekend.
If a server's operation is not required over the New Year's weekend, and if a server can be shut down in an orderly manner with no risk to data or work in progress, it should be shut down and powered down. If a server is needed or if shutdown poses some risk greater than potential Y2K-related risks, then the server should be left up, but it should be provided with an uninterruptable power supply (UPS).
The preferred UPS systems are those that have a data link to the server that can shut down the server if the batteries drop below a preset capacity. This shutdown capability should be tested ahead of time. In some instances, it may be desirable to place servers into "single-user" mode, running under privileged control, but not providing services to clients. This mode may also defeat UPS-initiated shutdown, so such a configuration should be tested ahead of time.
The Year 2000 Team recommends that, in general, business transactions stop on Thursday, December 30, and that related business processing stop by Friday morning, December 31.
Transactions should be stopped soon enough to allow related batch jobs to finish and final incremental backups to be done.
Wherever possible, system operators should minimize risk by preventing their systems from operating continuously across the "millennium boundary" itself.
SERVERS AND SERVICES IN UNINTERRUPTED OPERATION
Information Systems plans to keep MITnet, e-mail and Kerberos services running continuously during the New Year's weekend. Public Athena clusters will be kept in operation over the New Year's weekend.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 17, 1999.