Toyota factories grind to a halt after its servers run out of disk space

Last week, Toyota’s Japanese factories were shut down due to a production server malfunction. Some kind of random failure would be an understandable—if not acceptable—reason for the malfunction, but it turns out the shutdown was the result of having insufficient disk space. Facepalm.

According to a press release from Toyota (via Ars Technica) the servers that process part orders malfunctioned during routine maintenance work. It stated: “During the maintenance procedure, data that had accumulated in the database was deleted and organized, and an error occurred due to insufficient disk space, causing the system to stop.”

It went on to say the backup system had the same problem, so no switch could be made, and production was halted as a result. But while shutting down one line or a section of a plant is one thing, this stoppage affected no less than fourteen plants for two full days, and that’s the kind of thing that can really affect a company’s bottom line.

Additional reporting from Reuters claims the 14 affected plants are responsible for about a third of Toyota’s global production.

A blunder like this highlights the need for companies like Toyota to protect mission critical systems. It’s difficult enough to protect systems from cyberattacks, natural disasters or component failures, but something akin to not meeting the minimum system requirements is an oversight. Plain and simple. I’m sure some heads rolled after the big boss was informed. 

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It’s always better to have too much storage than not enough. That goes for a gaming rig or the brains of a multinational corporation’s warehouse filling IT operation.

It’s easy to mock Toyota for what on the surface appears to be a silly mistake, but systems at this level are incredibly complex. That doesn’t mean the people responsible should get a free pass, but it is a little more complicated than heading over to the PC shop across the street and grabbing a few SSDs. Maybe a USB flash drive or two would have sufficed!

Perhaps we need to add a new category to our Best SSD for gaming list. Best SSDs for mission critical servers?

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