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E-mail system limit established

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 05 - September 21, 1995

Did you know that the United States Post Office won't let you mail large, heavy items? It's not so much the difficulty of sticking on all those stamps or that things like pianos just don't fit through the slots very well. It's that the postal system, from the beginning, was designed primarily to handle correspondence, which generally doesn't weigh more than what an individual postal person can reasonably be expected to pick up and carry.

Our Campuswide Mail system has a similar problem.

Most e-mail notes are relatively small-like first class letters-and Campuswide Mail efficiently handles more than 65,000 of them daily. Occasionally, though, someone (figuratively speaking) shoves a grand piano through the slot, and then most other e-mail activities slow to a crawl while our mail system uses most of its available resources to process that one message. These "piano notes" degrade overall service badly enough that we, like the postal service, must set some limits.

Beginning Thursday, Sept. 14, the Campuswide Mail server (mail.vt.edu) no longer accepts e-mail messages that exceed 2,000,000 characters, a size exceeded by only a small fraction of a percent of our messages. Items that exceed the limit will be discarded and a short message containing the following two lines will be returned to the sender:

552...Message is too large; 2000000 bytes max 554...Service unavailable.

For those few affected by this change, the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the Internet's moral equivalent of an 18-wheeler and is a good alternative for moving large files directly between systems. FTP client software already is available on all our central systems and is included in the Blacksburg Electronic Village software (available for both PC's and Macintosh's) which Information Systems distributes and supports at no charge for students, faculty and staff members.

Information about publicly available FTP server software is available on the Computing Center's gopher (gopher.vt.edu) under Information Systems, Computing Center, The Software Hut. Choose the entry for your type of system, then under Network Applications choose File Transfer Protocol. [World Wide Web users may reach The Software Hut by pointing their browsers directly to the following URL: gopher://gopher.vt.edu/11/infosys/cc/software.]