Systems Backup Glitch Leads to Leap Year Error

A glitch that resulted in system backups scheduled to run Feb. 29, 1936, was traced last week to human error.

An incorrect answer that was generated while updating the CTime time-keeping component in Novell's network operating system (NOS) NetWare 3.12 and 3.2 caused the NOS to stumble over the leap year date, said said Peter Malcolm, senior vice president of business management at Computer Associates International.

The error showed up in job queues for CA's ArcServeIT backup software running on NetWare servers with the faulty patch, Malcolm said.

Users would see the message "e0139-failed to retrieve job from ,,d5," he said.

The incorrectly patched NetWare CTime application program interface returned the wrong day of the week after Feb. 29, 2000, identifying Wednesday, March 1, 2000, as a Tuesday.

The ARCserveIT queue manager recognized the invalid date and raised the error message, Malcolm said.

CA's tech-support center received approximately six or eight calls about the problem last week, said Doug Milligan, tech-support manager at the Islandia, N.Y.-based software giant. "One site had about 20 3.x servers blow up in one day," he said.

"Novell identified date rollover problems related to the incorrect application of the aforementioned patch and documented the solution in TID 2955237," Malcolm said.

Milligan and his staff had suspected the source of the problem Friday morning, he said, but they were unable to duplicate the problem until late Friday.

The solution for ARCserveIT, Milligan said, "is to delete and recreate the job queue in ARCserve using AS6UTIL, a utility included with ArcServeIT."

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