Technical Note - Account Suspension FAQ


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 ECS or SMS schools. Email warnings of impending suspension are sent out 7 and 2 days prior to this occuring.

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


I received an email about my ECS account being suspended. What should I do... 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 be 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 describing your situation so we can sort out the confusion before the suspension occurs. 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 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. an employee of ECS/SMS on a fixed term contract

If you have a fixed-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 was extended but we (the ECS technical support team) were not told this you'll get a warning email when you shouldn't have. We apologise for this confusion. All you need to do is get an ECS/SMS staff member who knows the details of your revised contract (the staff member supervising your work, an ECS/SMS administrator, etc) to email to provide us with those details.

Alternatively, your contract may not be extended but the academic staff member you are working for may want to continue working with you on an informal basis. Or an extension may be pending but not yet finalised. In either case your supervisor will need to email to let us know the proposed new contract end date, or to provide the date that your login access should continue to. If your account is to be extended for more than a few weeks without a contract extension we may want to change your account status to that of a "guest" (see below). a guest

Guest accounts are usually created because they are needed for some unpaid collaborative work between an external (non-ECS/SMS) person and an ECS/SMS staff member. If there is a definite time limit for the collaboration we will use that as the end date for the account. Otherwise we will 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. In this way, in the absence of a formal contract, we get regular yearly confirmations that the account is still being used.

To get a guest account renewed all you have to do is ask your ECS or SMS collaborator to send an email to requesting that this be done.

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

Attribute expiration is largely the same as account suspension, except that instead of losing access to your account, your account may lose some access privileges. This could happen because your enrolment in only some of your ECS/SMS courses is ending, but you will still be enrolled in others. Or it could be that a fixed term employment contract (such as for tutoring) is ending but you are still enrolled in ECS/SMS courses. In most cases this email is for informational purposes only. The access privileges are expiring because, according to the information we were given when they were granted, you will no longer need them after the given date.

However sometimes that information was wrong, or it may have subsequently changed and our database was not updated. In these cases you should ask the ECS/SMS academic staff member responsible for you having those privileges (your thesis supervisor, the person who employed you as a research assistant, the course coordinator of a course you were tutoring, etc) to email asking for them to be extended.

One case that usually requires no action is if you are a tutor for an ECS or SMS course. Towards the end of the trimester in which you are tutoring you may receive an email telling you that an "ECS Tutor" or "SMS tutor" userclass will be expiring soon. The only purpose of this attribute is to give login access to ECS computing facilities if you wouldn't already have it for some other reason. It does not affect your access to resources for the course(s) you are tutoring (ie: our online marking system). Since you were not told that your ECS login would be suspended soon you must have continued access for some other reason (ie: enrolment in ECS or SMS courses, an ongoing employment contract additional to your tutoring work, etc) so you can safely ignore the email.

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

Unless you are enrolled in a trimester 3 course that requires access to an ECS account 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 or SMS staff member over the break. In this case, that staff member just needs to send an email to 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 describing your situation. But please note that we don't consider the following commonly cited reasons as 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 or SMS 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/SMS 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 while it is 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 or SMS 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 and we will try to assist.

Another potential issue is that you may find your newly reactivated account has exceeded its allowed disk quota. This could be because your account was over its disk quota when it got suspended (we would have stopped complaining to you about it then since there was nothing you could do about it). Or it could be because your account now has a lower disk quota than it did when it was suspended (disk quotas are based on the type of account you have (see for more details).

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/SMS 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 asking us to do it for you.