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Stock fans stumped by Quicken outages

The popular stock quote download, part of Intuit's flagship personal finance software, has been suffering intermittent outages during the past few days, sparking the ire of its biggest fans.

Quicken's popular stock quote download service has been suffering intermittent outages during the past few days, sparking the ire of its biggest fans.

While some users venting their frustrations on Yahoo's message boards said the service, known for its reliability, has gone down off and on since Friday, Quicken's director of marketing Roy Rosin said the service has been affected since Monday.

The free service allows users of Intuit's flagship Quicken personal finance software to download stock and mutual fund quotes directly into their software to crunch numbers and analyze their portfolio.

Rosin said the problem had been alleviated this afternoon by adding four additional servers to the existing six servers. Quicken personal finance software updates users' portfolios using a separate stock feed. The servers were unable to handle all the requests by those using Quicken software; however, Quicken.com was unaffected by the traffic, according to the company.

"It is almost when good news becomes bad news," said Rosin. "There was a huge increase in the number of people checking their portfolios. The servers couldn't really handle the additional people trying to get on," he said.

The outages come just weeks before the release of Intuit's new personal finance software, Quicken 2000, which will ship in September. Some irate existing customers on Yahoo's message boards are threatening to jump ship to rival Microsoft Money because of what they term as Quicken.com's slow response in addressing the problems.

"The [stock download service] is a crucial part of why I use Quicken's personal finance software," said customer Jim Rapp in an interview with CNET News.com. Rapp said he has used the application for the past three years and the online features for the past one and half years.

"If they don't get it fixed soon, I would have to look at going to another product that has reliable service," said Rapp, who uses the service daily, basing his trades on information gathered. "It is very important," he said.

Outages at major Web sites seem to be part of daily life on the Internet in recent months. eBay has been crashing almost every other week during the past few months. Microsoft's Hotmail has gone under periodically, and E*Trade continues to suffer sporadic outages.

Surging traffic at these popular sites has put tremendous pressure on both the hardware and software used to keep the sites humming.

Quicken.com said it has about 6 million unique visitors to the site, with just under 1 million using the portfolio services. Use of the service has almost tripled in the past 12 months, the company said.