Last Wednesday, Information Technology (IT) put the finishing touches on a new online storage system that will enable students, faculty and staff to save and backup large amounts of data on the College's server.

According to Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis, IT's decision to increase its storage capacity was born out of necessity.

"If we didn't make the change, we would either have to tell everybody to empty their trash and remove all the information they have collected over the last year or have the whole system crash," said Davis.

Deputy Chief Information Officer Rebecca Sandlin agreed.

"We really had to do it. There is so much more to store...digitized photographs, collections of photographs, videos, audio files. There is so much more than just Word documents that people are storing now," she said. "We were facing critical mass."

The $250,000 upgrade tripled the College's online storage space to an estimated 500 terabytes.

Recently, Davis said, more and more members of the Bowdoin community have been requesting additional storage space if they have more data to save than is allotted for individual use on the microwave server.

"We were seeing it across the board," Davis said. "The biggest users of storage are faculty."

But students, too, he said, have been requesting additional space, "particularly visual arts students or those who seem to be overly involved in student groups."

A student "using video and digital work for four years could generate terabytes of information," said Davis.

In order to implement the expansion, IT staff spent the summer moving all of the data from the old system on to the new system.

"When you have larger and larger demands on the technology you then have to replace it... It's like taking everything from an old house to a new house," said Director of Systems and Programming Adam Lord.

All of the data moved from the old system to the new system amounted to the information stored or archived by departments, faculty members, deans, Blackboard, E-Reserves, the Bowdoin website, the Bowdoin Daily Sun, and the entire microwave server.

But the system also allows for future growth. Davis expects the new system will provide enough space for "the next two to three years."

IT's primary goal is that the new system will prevent students, faculty and staff from feeling restricted by storage limitations.

"If you look at other institutions, most of them have a quota of how much data a department can have or a student can have. We want to avoid that as much as possible," said Systems Engineer Christopher Waltham.

Lord said students and faculty should not "have to depend on personal resources."

"We don't think that there should be limits in storage," said Lord.

Lord believes that the new storage space should be used only for academic work, however.

"We look to balance efficient use of the storage so people don't put their entire collection of ripped DVDs up... It's more about putting up things that are academically related," he said.

Aside from providing greater space for data, IT expects that the new system will ease or even enhance research and data collection projects.

"A project that wasn't feasible before is now feasible," said Waltham.

"It opens a lot of opportunity, especially for research. Ten years ago this would have cost millions and millions of dollars to do," he said.

Most importantly, IT expects the system to be more secure for users and will ensure that no data will be lost.

"We want to make people comfortable using the technology without thinking it is going to fail," said Davis.

Sandlin said it would offer "peace of mind to students."

"If a student is in the middle of a really important project...we don't want them all of a sudden to have to stop work because they have too much data on their drive," she said. "We really want to avoid those scenarios."

Davis said he encourages students to approach IT if they think they will need extra space.

"We are more than willing to work with them on that," said Davis.

IT and Bowdoin Student Government will be working together at the beginning of next semester to determine just how many students hope to take advantage of the new system.

Currently IT only knows of six students who have more data than can be stored on the microwave server, but with increasing student awareness of the resource available, IT expects that the number will continue to rise.

Until IT and BSG work out a plan for allocating the newly created storage, students can access additional storage by contacting the IT Help Desk.