Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Inconsiderate Behavior

I thought today was going to be a good day: completely over the flu I had caught, night class was canceled, and my work load wasn't large (despite taking the majority of last week off)... I was mistaken.

When I check my work email I see the usual day-to-day emails, but one caught my eye. It was from my Spiceworks install and the title read "C: has less than 5% remaining on [one of the work servers]"... heart sank. Goodbye care free day, hello hellish day full of trying to figure out what's going on.

I turn to the server (running Windows Server 2003R2). I've always been well aware of the storage problems of the C:\ partition on this. This wasn't the first time the C:\ had filled up, in fact. Back when I first started working, it filled up due to an out of control program producing a five-mile long error log. The system, like most in the office, predate me. It was bought through a "value-added" retailer. The VAR decided it was a good idea to partition C:\ to only have 12 GiB of free space. I probably should have done something about it back then, but it being a Windows Server 2003 server, there's no integrated option to shrink one partition and expand the other. Budget was, as always, $0 and uptime was considered critical, so I freed up 4 GiB of space and called it a day. Of that, last week (some 3 years later) I had 2 GiB free space remaining. The server didn't ever really get any new software installed beyond security updates and I ran her lean and mean to reduce the chances of some log file going crazy. As I saw it, the remaining 2 GiB of free space would last me to this summer, where I planned to finally shrink the D:\ partition and expand the C:\ partition. It won't make it to then due to some inconsiderate behavior of an outsider.

A company, which will remain nameless for now, decided it was OK for them to do an automatic update of their software without telling me. Not only did they not tell me, they didn't announce it at all ahead of time, even on their website. The software also doesn't have the option to disable automatic updates and the fact that it can do automatic updates isn't even a listed feature. The software in question uses Microsoft SQL Server for the backend. Why? I dunno. I guess they thought that was a good idea (I disagree with that conclusion); it didn't use a SQL backend two revisions ago. Part of the upgrade included a forced upgrade to MS SQL Server 2008 (We were on MS SQL Server 2005)... That might be acceptable if I lived in an ideal world where I had each server only do a single role, but I don't because I don't have that kind of budget, working for a small business. The server in question was an archive server for patient records, and that functionality also used MS SQL Server. The update also required .NET Framework 4.0, which I had no need for up to then, so I didn't have it installed (free space being a premium, after all).

None of this would have been a problem, had I been given prior notice  of the update. If I was told ahead of time that this update was coming, I could have done something about it, and there would be no issue. Instead due to the company's inconsiderateness, I find myself with... 85 MB of free space on the C:\ partition.The .NET Framework update was also still running and complaining about a lack of free space (obviously). I had to cancel that.Next step is getting me some breathing room and call the company up. They give me the usual company blah about it, don't even apologize for not telling me about the upgrade beforehand. Told me they couldn't revert the upgrade so my only option was to clear up the space myself or uninstall the software.

Uninstalling it is very tempting, but I'll need to get my boss's approval before I can do that. In the mean time, I have a good feeling that the software is hosed and useless. The services related to it wouldn't start up, so I disabled them, crippling the software to dead status anyway, so at least it's not a further threat. I scavenged for free space and was able to get back to a bit over 800 MB. At least now it won't fail over from a single hiccup. That'll buy me the time to defrag the other partition (which is running smoothly so far, but since it was an archive server, still has a ways to go), shrinking it, and expanding the C:\ partition. If my boss doesn't approve some money spending, that'll mean downtime as I boot off GParted to shrink. I'll expand the C:\ partition with extpart from Dell so Windows get too grouchy.

A number of factors lead to the current situation, but the one thing that definitely shouldn't have been the case and would have made the world of difference is if I was told about this major upgrade beforehand so I could prepare for it.

At least Spiceworks is doing its job properly.


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