Bits & Bytes: Toyota Shutdown Caused by Insufficient Disk Space

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

bits bytes toyota shutdown caused by insufficient disk space

The cause of a recent blip in production for one of the world’s largest automakers has been traced to problems with computer memory. Yes, you read that correctly.

When most of us get an error alerting about lack of disk space, it generally means we can’t take any more pictures of the car with our phone or are unable to install the latest updates for Snowrunner. For Toyota, the problem was slightly more dire, as the issue shut down production at no fewer than fourteen different facilities – basically all its operations in Japan.

Calling it a “malfunction in our production order system” which happened at the end of last month, regular maintenance work apparently created the snafu. During that procedure, computer data that had accumulated in the company database was being deleted and/or organized when an error is said to have occurred due to insufficient disk space. This caused the system to grind to a halt. A similar failure then supposedly happened in the backup function, preventing a switchover and leading to the suspension of domestic plant operations.

How’d they fix it? By transferring the data to a server with a larger capacity, of course. We imagine frenzied Toyota IT people running out to Staples and buying up all the external hard drives. Good to know multi-zillion dollar companies face some of the same problems as the rest of us.

Toyota’s statement goes on to say “We would like to report that we have identified the above as the true cause,” which cynics would suggest is exactly what someone would say if they haven’t actually identified the true cause at all. The PR machine was also quick to ward off speculation this was the work of bad actors, saying “We would also like to reaffirm that the system malfunction was not caused by a cyberattack.” Very good, then.

In the meantime, your author will be over he backing up the hard drive on his laptop, just in case.

[Image: Toyota]

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7 of 19 comments
  • FreedMike FreedMike on Sep 07, 2023

    Off topic, but this brings to mind my favorite company IT fail story.

    Back in the day, I worked at a very large telecom company (hint: it's the one whose CEO came within days of dying in prison, a situation that disappointed me to no end because he deserved to meet his good buddy Jesus behind bars). We had an IT guy who wanted to get fired. So he decided to write up a dirty joke (complete with the f-word in the subject line) involving elephants and other animals, and sent it to the super-secret "employee all" address. So everyone - including said CEO who almost died in prison - got this email, including me. That was about 50,000 recipients.

    I chuckled for a moment and thought "well, this guy's getting s**tcanned," and deleted the message. I didn't think much of it until my inbox started filling up with messages like "that's disgusting", or "hahahaha," which went on for about a minute, at which point the "don't hit the 'reply all' button" messages (sent by people who hit the 'reply all' button) began, followed by "you idiot - you told him not to reply to all with the 'reply all' button" messages. Geometric progression, baby!

    By the time the system completely crashed a few minutes later, and took our intranet with it, I had several tens of thousands of emails in my Outlook...and rising. I got to go home early. Our systems weren't back up until much later that night.

    I'd love to have bought that IT guy a beer.

    • See 4 previous
    • FreedMike FreedMike on Sep 08, 2023

      "I don't even know how that would work."

      Well, it won't, but this guy didn't know that. Assuming, of course, the talk around the campfire was correct. Office rumors...

  • Jeff Jeff on Sep 07, 2023

    Toyota does not just have production problems. It is not the best time to buy a Toyota especially since their US distributors and dealers have their own markups in addition to the equipment they add onto the price. Toyota sells their vehicles in the US thru distributors to dealers. There are many Toyota dealerships marking prices of new Toyotas in excess of 10k. This has resulted in many loyal Toyota owners buying other brands instead of Toyotas.

  • Pianoboy57 My family had the '71 1900 2dr hardtop. That car was sure a lot of fun. My brother wrecked it and Dad found another one w/o an engine. We spent the next year making one 1900 out of two.
  • Tassos Your title says FORD to offer blah blah, but on the photo there is a DAMNED KIA instead What gives?
  • Dukeisduke There were aftermarket ac/c systems for these - they used a plastic duct with vents that sat atop the transmission tunnel.
  • GrumpyOldMan I had a '73 for around 18 years. It had a foot operated windshield washer pump, four grease fittings (one on each each door hinge), and coil spring rear/transverse leaf front suspension. No trunk, but a good size luggage area behind the seats. Almost made it to 200K miles, but the tin worm got it.
  • Dukeisduke As far as I'm concerned, the jury's still out on the new Tacoma. I've read about too many new Tundras with mechanical problems like failed wastegates. I'm not confident these won't have similar teething problems. Toyota should just stay away from turbos.