The day after the worst terrorist attack in the nation’s history, 16,000 Yale e-mail accounts received and sent about 900,000 e-mails.

Although the central e-mail system usually handles fewer than 600,000 e-mails a day, the system did not crash or even slow down thanks to a series of system improvements made by Information Technology Services this summer.

“[That is] a huge amount of mail,” ITS Director Philip Long said. “The old system would have been at its limits.”

ITS spent about $60,000 to upgrade the hardware in its four main e-mail servers, which are now four times more powerful. The decision to improve the system over the summer came in response to the approximately 50 percent annual growth in e-mail volume, but the events of Sept. 11 gave the system a surprise test.

“The system didn’t slow at all for it,” Long said.

ITS also has carried out a variety of other e-mail improvements over the last few months, and some of the changes caused temporary disruptions.

Yale Web Mail slowed down on Oct. 14 when the school completed a Pantheon upgrade in which ITS switched the operating system of the file server.

Another lingering effect of this upgrade is that users of the Pine e-mail software cannot see how many new messages they have when they log onto the system. Although ITS plans to restore this function, it disappeared temporarily because the program that gives the number of messages does not work with the new operating system, Long said.

Although there have been some visible configuration issues, Long said the upgrade was necessary and provided students with quicker access.

“The first reason someone does this is to get up-to-date equipment for maintenance,” Long said. “You get speed and performance. It’s running much faster than it used to.”

ITS also added more disk space on the server for students. Students now have 50 megabytes for personal files and Web pages instead of 20 megabytes.

“We’re finding that people are doing media things [on their Web pages], and they’re asking for more space,” Long said.

Long said ITS still plans more improvements to the e-mail system like improving Web Mail speed for next semester.