AOL home page glitches irk users

Some Web sites hosted on America Online have been hit by outages, leaving their Webmasters unable to update, view or transfer files on their home pages.

Some Web sites hosted on America Online have been hit by outages, leaving their Webmasters unable to update, view or transfer files on their home pages.

The outages, which have struck the AOL Hometown personal Web page area over the past few weeks, resulted from a server upgrade, according to AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham. He stressed that only a "small number" of AOL members may have experienced brief delays in accessing their home pages since the upgrade. He also said the problems were not widespread.

"The vast majority of members hosting their free Web sites on AOL have had no problem at all accessing, uploading or transferring files," Graham said. He added, however, that the problems are still occurring and a full fix should be completed in the "very near future."

There are about 14 million home pages created on AOL, some by AOL members and some nonmembers using the service for free.

Indeed, an informal search on AOL Hometown resulted in blank pages or ones with "server busy" messages. Other links on the site were slow to load or served messages saying the page was not available.

Some people using the service have expressed frustration and anger over the glitches. Many people depend on AOL to host business and personal Web sites.

Nick Proios, an agent at Litsa Ibrahim Real Estate in Queens, N.Y., said he created a Web site on AOL two years ago, which at its peak attracted 90 percent of his firm's inquiries. But since a few weeks ago, inquiries have plummeted 50 percent. Traffic, which had once numbered 100 hits a day, has withered to just two or three hits.

"I'm not a Web designer; I'm not an HTML expert," Proios said. "I don't know how to get another page or another hosting service. I don't have the budget available."

Still, AOL's Graham said that once the service's glitches are fixed, AOL Hometown will be a more robust site.

"We certainly regret any minor inconvenience as we upgrade and improve the AOL Hometown area," he said.

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