Come for the Report Distribution, Stay for the Spooled File Management

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Spreadsheet files on laptopI saw an interesting set of articles in IT Jungle the other day that talked about how dangerous it was to keep old spooled files on your IBM i system. When you retain old spooled files (SPLFs, pronounced “spliffs”) on a system, every job containing a SPLF takes up a system job table entry.

As the number of job table entries nears your partition capacity, IBM i job tables can overflow causing several bad system issues, including:

  • Preventing your system from accepting new jobs
  • Filling up your disk storage
  • Stopping an IPL

Spooled file management keeps IBM i job tables under control and third-party spooled file conversion programs like my SpoolFlex software, can help.

The best way to manage job table entries

Don’t keep too many old SPLFs on the system or you’ll risk a job table overflow. And delete excess spooled files as soon as you can. If your system keeps excessive SPLFs, they’ll eat up job table entries until your job tables reach capacity and the bad things listed here start happening.

You free up a job table entry every time you delete all the SPLFs associated with a specific job (which removes the job from your system). This is the most effective way to keep your IBM i job tables under control and out of trouble.

Automating spooled file cleanup through third-party software

While IBM offers basic features for cleaning up output queues, it doesn’t provide a lot of tools for managing spooled files. To keep SPLFs and system job tables under control, you can take advantage of the spooled file management capabilities that come with packages like SpoolFlex.

SpoolFlex offers an Advanced Utilities module that contains a Spool Sentry feature. Spool Sentry is an output queue and job monitor that automates program processing. Using advanced spooled file selection, you can set up rules for when specific SPLFs are auto-deleted.

When a Sentry rule triggers, it locates and deletes the spooled file that triggered the rule. After Sentry deletes the SPLFs attached to the job, that job is removed from your system, freeing up its system job table entry.

Besides auto-deleting IBM i spooled files, Spool Sentry can also automatically execute any DRVTech FlexTool, IBM, or 3rd party API that can be called from a system command line. This means you can also use Spool Sentry to detect specific SPLF conditions and call an API to deal with those issues.

Come for the report distribution, stay for the spooled file management

Just like the old Baker’s Square slogan “Come for the food, stay for the pie”, spooled file conversion programs like SpoolFlex provide two valuable benefits. They allow you to build a paperless report distribution solution that enables electronic distribution and archiving for reduced printing and distribution costs. And like pie after a good meal, they provide a second function. You can use utility functions like Spool Sentry for SPLF management to keep output queues and system job table entries under control.

When buying or evaluating spooled file conversion software, be sure to look for valuable extra features like Spool Sentry that can help manage your system. While SPLF management may not be what you’re buying a report distribution package for, it can provide a bonus capability that comes in handy for IBM i system management.


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