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Is it a bad idea to allow users to run agents?

When we migrated servers to ND6, while making sure R5 clients outside of the office still worked, we either had to enable users to run agents or apply a workaround developed by Lotus. What an unexpected mess!

We previously never allowed users to run agents, so we opted for the workaround. The possibilities of what users might do with agents is frightening. Besides, we don't know what user agents might do to server availability. I would love to hear your comments on the issue. Is it a bad idea to allow users to run agents?
Provided you don't grant users unrestricted agent access on the server, there's nothing the user can do in an agent that they can't do manually with their Notes client. Accidentally delete every document in a database? You can do that with an agent; you can also do it with a few keystrokes, if you have that access. ("I was just trying to remove those documents from that view.")

As in many of life's hard questions, a good guideline is, don't give people the power to do more damage without also giving them the training to avoid accidental damage. If you don't give them a Domino Designer client, you sharply limit the amount of harm they can do with their agents.

Also, keep good backups. Just in case! And enable soft deletions.

To avoid server slowdowns due to user-written agents, you can also limit the execution time of agents on the server. One minute should be more than enough for any legitimate task a user could come up with.

This was last published in October 2003

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