Techie basks in praise for restoring workforce email (by stopping his scripting sh!tshow)

And no one will ever know... until now, that is

Who, Me? Ho ho ho! It may be Christmas Eve but Who, Me? stops for no festive season.

This time, our weekly reader's column of tech support problems of their own making comes from "Harold", who was a senior managed compute engineer for a major provider of stuff.

"I was tasked with a simple project to extract a full list of users in all distribution lists in a domain," he said.

"I wrote a simple PowerShell script to extract the data from the primary exchange controller, did a simple limited test and everything checked out OK."

So Harold started to run it on the production environment after it was signed off by change control and monitored it for five minutes to make sure all was going to plan.

"I then put it in the background while it ran to get on with some other work," Harold said.

He then forgot it was running and wandered off to get a coffee. To his surprise, he returned to a service desk flooded with calls about email issues.

No, just stop. Nope. photo by shutterstock

Dev's telnet tinkering lands him on out-of-hour conference call with CEO, CTO, MD


The script was still running – it was about an hour later – but Harold couldn't see anything obviously wrong with it.

"Users were reporting that they weren't able to access emails, folders were not expanding, and there was a delay in emails being sent or received," he said.

Harold checked the primary exchange server, only to find that he was maxing out the resources and causing all the problems.

"I stopped the script and all the email services returned to normal almost instantly," he said.

To top off the episode, he got "heaps of praise" from both his manager and the customer for locating the fault with the server's resources and fixing it so quickly.

"No one was any the wiser to the issue with the script," Harold said.

After the heat died down, he checked the script. He had made a small mistake when trying to make it recursive.

"Not only did I end up with it checking the entire forest rather than a single domain, I ended up creating a loop where it was indefinitely checking distribution lists. It was going round in a never-ending loop causing it to use more and more resources as it continued to run."

Harold fixed the code and re-ran it one evening, keeping a much closer eye on it. "This time it worked with no issues."

Have you ever dodged a bullet at work? When was the last time you took out a company's email server? Tell Who, Me? and you might see your story featuring in a future column. ®

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