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IS Increases Student Athena Disk Quotas

By Dan McGuire
Associate News Editor

The size of students' Athena disk quotas was increased from 10 megabytes to 12.5 megabytes early Tuesday morning. The last time space was increased was in August 1994 when the quota was doubled from five to 10 megabytes.

The increase was made by Distributed Computing and Network Services, a division of Information Systems.

Students' disk space "always gradually increases," said Director of Academic Computing Gregory A. Jackson.

The periodic replacement of older servers with larger, more powerful ones gradually increased the amount of online storage that the Institute has available for students, Jackson said.

"It has been common practice to periodically increase the default user quota to try to keep in step with current demands," said Systems Programmer Matthew H. Braun '93, team leader of Athena Server Operations.

Use of applications like Framemaker and the popularity of the World-Wide Web have greatly increased the amount of data storage that students need, Braun said.

While IS hopes to implement "smaller quota increases more frequently," the next increase has not yet been scheduled, meaning another increase will not likely come before the end of the term, Braun said.

In order to implement the quota increase, 30 gigabytes has been added to the Athena AFS Cell, leaving the total size at 177 gigabytes, Braun said.

IS staff members have been continually replacing older servers and disks during the past eight months as part of this process, Braun said.

"We have been targeting a quota increase for some time now," but Network Services needed to make sure it had the capacity to make the change, Braun said.

The quota was specifically increased to 12.5 megabytes because it "represented a tangible increase and was within our current means," Braun said.

Last summer, Athena switched to digital linear tape technology as its backup medium, since it writes data more quickly than the 8 mm tape previously used and can store up to 40 gigabytes, Braun said.

There will be a backup cycle of approximately one to two weeks now that the increase has been implemented, Braun said.

MIT gives more space than others

The amount of space that MIT makes available to its students ranks well against comparable universities.

While Stanford University has a six-megabyte quota, "it's not really hard to get more," since students can get increases if they are doing research or taking certain classes, said student Joanna L. Salgado. Salgado works the consulting desk for Stanford's computing system. "I'm jealous" of MIT's quota, she said.

The California Institute of Technology also has a six-megabyte student quota; at Harvard University, the quota is five megabytes.

Cristian A. Gonzalez and Venkatesh Satish contributed to the reporting to this story.