U of U server outage brings down hospital, campus, UTA systems

Aug 22, 2023, 10:54 PM | Updated: Aug 23, 2023, 12:12 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A server outage downtown was felt across the University of Utah campus and hospital system in Salt Lake City Tuesday, and across Utah Transit Authority Frontrunner and Trax stations.

The outage took down crucial programs for U of U staff, students, and U of U Health. 

One couldn’t tell from the outside of the hospital Tuesday evening, because everything looked business as usual. But inside, doctors and nurses had to write down everything with pen and paper, with no access to the computer systems.

The hospital was diverting people away to other medical facilities because of it.

“We’re not going to be accepting any emergent cases for the moment,” said Suzanne Winchester, associate director of PR and communications at U of U Health.

She said staff began experiencing issues around 3 pm.

“Both U of U Health and University of Utah started to notice that communication systems were not working. So that’s kind of broad-based systems around both of our institutions,” she explained.

A University of Utah spokesperson explained on the phone that a downtown server went into automatic shut-down as employees were adjusting the humidity in the server room to compensate for the extra humidity outdoors.

It became too much for the servers to handle, causing the outage. UTA said that they use those same servers. Frontrunner and Trax station signs went dark and could not display information, however, all lines still ran normally.

The SafeUT app also stopped functioning but was back online at 9 pm.

A long list of services across campus were disrupted, from email to Canvas. Students on campus told KSL TV it didn’t impact them too much because it was only the second day of school, so they had not yet been assigned coursework to complete.

The IT team initiated a total restart, the servers were still down for campus and the hospital Tuesday night.


A list of services disrupted during Tuesday’s outage at the University of Utah (University of Utah)


“Ambulances and emergency crews are not going to be coming in until this issue is resolved,” Winchester said.

Instead, emergency cases were diverted to other area hospitals, including medical helicopters.

Doctors and nurses reverted back to keeping track of everything by hand, with no computer access. 

Which takes longer, but Winchester said, didn’t disrupt any patient care.

“This is something that we plan for and that we practice for,” she said. “It sounds big and it sounds catastrophic, but I just think it’s important to remember this is the way that we used to work all the time. So, we’re ready for when this happens.”

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U of U server outage brings down hospital, campus, UTA systems