Comcast e-mail access suffers outage

The company's Comcastcares Twitter stream says "there is an e-mail server outage" affecting its customers. A fix expected at 11 a.m. apparently arrives at about 2:45 p.m.

Updated to reflect that e-mail service is back and to add comments from Comcast.

Comcast e-mail customers: no, it's not just you.

Comcast e-mail servers experienced an outage, according to the company's Twitter feed and this message on Comcast.net. A fix arrived hours after expected. Comcast

Users of the company's e-mail service have been out of luck accessing the service since "at least" 6 a.m. PT, according to an e-mail tip received by CNET News on Saturday.

Although Comcast did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter, its Comcastcares Twitter feed, as well as its Comcast.net service hub, did confirm the outage. It has been communicating with the "server company"--the maker of the server--to help resolve the problem.

While a fix was previously expected at 11 a.m., according to the Twitter feed, e-mail is still down.

"I do apologize," tweeted Frank Eliason, director of digital care for Comcast. "I am waiting for an update on the new errors."

Update at 2:45 p.m.: Eliason now says, "Mail is starting to come back online and will take time for all to be uploaded...Ugh! What a day!" A reader also confirms (via her Comcast.net e-mail address) that her access has returned.

Update at 4:15 p.m.: Eliason just e-mailed me, saying the e-mail server that suffered the outage was owned by Comcast. He declined to disclose the name of the company that built it.

Update at 11:15 a.m. Sunday: Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas tells me that the cable giant is still investigating the cause of the Saturday e-mail outage. Engineers are not yet certain whether it was initiated by a failure in power, hardware, or systems. It is also trying to determine how many e-mail servers and customers were affected by the outage, of which it became aware at 4:30 a.m. PT Saturday.

"Our priority is getting the systems stabilized," Douglas said.

No outgoing or incoming e-mail has been lost by users of its residential e-mail system, SmartZone, he assured me. Those accounts come free with Comcast's high-speed Internet service, to which he said 14.7 million people subscribe.

"There's quite a backlog" of messages in the server queue, he said, that are expected to fully clear out in the next few hours, depending on the volume.

Douglas did not have a figure for how many subscribers actively use the free residential e-mail accounts, but he did clarify that Comcast's paid business-class e-mail accounts, which rely on Microsoft Communication Services, were not affected by the outage.

While Douglas said the company has not sent out an e-mail to subscribers regarding the outage, he said that in addition to the Comcastcares Twitter feed and Comcast.net, customers could find further information about the outage on the company's Comcast Voices blog, which launched at the end of March.

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    Zoë Slocum joined CNET in 2003, after two years at a travel start-up. Having managed the Blog Network and served as copy chief, she now edits part-time and serves as a mom full-time.

     

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