Hotmail server on the blink

Microsoft's free email service lost the use of a server, shutting what the company termed a "small percentage" of users out of their accounts.

With 30 million users, a little bit of technical difficulty can go a long way.

Microsoft'sMSN Hotmail lost the use of a server this morning, shutting what the company termed a "small percentage" of users out of their accounts.

"We're working to fix it," said Hotmail product manager Laura Norman. "We're beginning to bring it back online right now and will have it fully restored in next couple of hours."

One Hotmail user reported hours-long delays in receiving email through her account, but Norman said the server outage did not affect mail delivery, only account access.

With 30 million registered users, Hotmail leads the pack of Web-based email providers. That extraordinary volume also means technical problems can wind up affecting hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of email exchanges.

Hotmail last month suffered mail delivery delays and also a glitch that flooded Internet service providers with multiple copies of email.

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