Technical Note - Account Suspension FAQ

Summary

ECS suspends accounts on its systems when they are not needed for courses or for other work the account owner may have been doing for the school. Email warnings of impending suspension are sent out 7 and 2 days prior to it happening.

This document details what happens when an account is suspended, and what you should do if you think this shouldn't happen.

Details

I received an email about my ECS account being suspended. What should I do...

...as a student in 100-400 level courses

Students enrolled in these courses generally only have access to their ECS accounts during the trimesters their courses run in.

In most cases if you aren't enrolled in any courses in a given trimester (including over the summer) your account will remain suspended. Some exceptions to this rule are detailed in later sections of this document.

It might be the case that you enrolled in next trimester courses very close to the date your account was due to be suspended and then you received an "account suspension in seven days" email warning. That's because there can be a 2 or 3 day delay between when you enrol and when we get updated enrolment information that we use to adjust account suspension dates. If you are in this situation you shouldn't have to do anything since your suspension date should be updated before your account is actually suspended..

But if you get the seven day suspension warning and you've been enrolled in next trimester courses for more than a few days or you get a warning that your account will be suspended in two days, it could be that our idea of what courses you are enrolled in differs from yours! In this case you should email jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz describing your situation so we can sort out the confusion before the suspension occurs.

...as a MSc or PhD thesis student

We used to have to deal with thesis student accounts manually because the central student administration system didn't provide us with enough information about enrolment start/end dates for us to have an automatic system. This required that your supervisor email jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz us to let us know your current status.

We now automatically get information about thesis student enrolment changes. More detailed information on how thesis student login accounts are handled is available in a separate Thesis Student Login Accounts tech note.

...as an employee of ECS/SMS on a short term contract

If you have a short-term employment contract with either ECS or SMS (eg: as a tutor, research assistant, teaching assistant, summer scholarship student, etc) your account suspension date should have been set to the date of the end of your contract. If your contract gets extended but we were not told this had happened you may get an email warning email when you don't think you should have. Or your contract may not have been extended, but the academic staff member you are working for may want you to retain access to our systems for some reason.

In either situation you will need to get your supervisor to email jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz on your behalf. We will need to know how long your account should remain active for and what your status will be (eg: if a new contract is pending, etc). If your account is to be extended for more than a few weeks but there are no plans for a new contract we may want to change your account status to that of a "guest" (see below).

...as a guest

Guest accounts are usually created because they are needed for some collaborative work between an external (non-ECS) person and an ECS staff member. If there is no definite time limit for the collaboration we would usually set an end date of at most one year in the future, renewable for successive one year periods until the account is no longer required. The reason we limit accounts in this way is so that in the absence of a formal contract, we get regular (yearly) confirmations that the account is still required.

To get a guest account renewed all you have to do is ask your ECS collaborator to send an email to jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz requesting that this be done.

I received an email about an account 'role' expiring. What should I do?

Role expiration is largely the same as account suspension, except that instead of losing access to your account, you are losing some access privileges. This could happen because your enrolment in some (but not all) of your ECS courses is ending, or a fixed term employment contract with ECS is ending.

If you don't think a role should expire you should ask the ECS academic staff member responsible for you having that role (your thesis supervisor, the person who employed you as a research assistant, the course coordinator of a course you were tutoring, etc) to email jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz asking for the role to be extended.

I'll be an ECS student next year. Can I have access to my ECS account over summer?

Unless you are enrolled in a summer course that requires access to an ECS account (ie: a graduate project course that runs over trimester 3) or are a thesis student, the answer will generally be no. The reason for this is that ECS technical staff use the summer break to do reconfiguration and maintenance work on our servers, networks and labs. This work would be much harder to complete with many users on our systems.

One exception is for students who are doing research assistant or course preparation work for an ECS staff member over the break. In this case, that staff member just needs to send an email to jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz to request that your account not be suspended.

If you think you can make a good case for retaining access to your account over the summer break, feel free to email jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz describing your situation. But please note the following reasons commonly cited are not sufficient:
  • Wanting to continue with personal study over the break to get a head start for the next year (unless there are special circumstances, which will generally need to be backed up by an ECS academic staff member).
  • Not having access to a computer elsewhere. If you need access to a computer and don't have one at home you could use the SCS (Student Computing Suite) since SCS access does continue over the summer.

I'm not enrolled in ECS courses over the summer but will be in trimester 1 next year. What happens to my account?

Your account will be suspended until one week before the start of your next enrolled course.

What happens to my files when my account is suspended?

We don't remove your account (or your files) from our system immediately after it has been suspended. In fact, we generally keep suspended student accounts on our system for a minimum of two full trimesters. If you re-enrol in an ECS course any time before your account is removed, you will find all your files exactly as they were when you last had access to our systems.

If you do not enrol in an ECS course for two full trimesters your account and files may be removed from our system. A subsequent enrolment will result in a new account being created for you. If you think you might want future access to your ECS files it is your responsibility to copy them from our system before your account is suspended.

For guest accounts, if your account is suspended we will not remove it from our system until we have confirmed with your collaborator that it and any files belonging to it are no longer needed.

One potential issue for accounts that have been suspended and are later re-enabled is that any personalisations or customisations will remain. However, personalised configurations for versions of software that were current when you last used your account may not work with newer versions that have been subsequently installed. If we have identified a specific problem that would affect many returning students we will most likely have put in place some mitigation (in the worst case, this might have meant resetting configurations back to a working default). If the problem is one we weren't aware of you can email jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz and we will try to assist.

What will happen to my email while my account is suspended?

If your ECS email is being forwarded elsewhere (ie: to your MyVUW account which is the default set up for all our student accounts, or because you have specified your own forwarding by following the instructions in our technote), forwarding will continue for around six months after your account is suspended. This is intended to allow continued use of your ECS email address for a reasonable period of time in case you do further ECS courses in the future.

If you were reading your email from the ECS mail server, local delivery will be blocked two weeks after your account was suspended. We do this so you won't be faced with a accumulation of several months of old email if your account should ever be reactivated. And it also prevents our mail server disk filling up with email that may never be read. After local delivery is blocked, if you weren't also forwarding your email elsewhere, our mail server will send a bounce email back to the sender of any email to you telling them that your ECS account is suspended.

If you don't want ECS email to be forwarded, you should cancel your forwarding before your account gets suspended. If you forget to do this in time you can send an email to jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz asking us to do it for you.