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Yahoo Mail, Amazon suffer outages

The popular free email service and the retailer lose service for several hours due to maintenance and other glitches.

The Net isn't always open 24 hours a day. Two Net heavyweights had all or major parts of their services down for hours yesterday and today.

Service from online book and music vendor Amazon.com was stalled for nine hours early this morning due to "scheduled maintenance," according to the company.

Amazon reopened its Web commerce site as of 9 a.m. PT.

In related news, an outage also occurred yesterday on Yahoo's email service Yahoo Mail. A company source said the mail service's connection to the Internet, which is provided by GTE, was down from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. PT.

"We use multiple providers and this provider was providing access to our mail and calendaring services from the Internet," said Katie Burke, Yahoo Mail's producer. "Users were having accessibility problems with these services."

GTE confirmed that more than two dozen customers, including Yahoo, lost their connection to a data center housed in Palo Alto, California. Though the service has been running throughout the day, GTE network administrators have been conducting tests.

"We're still evaluating the root cause on a post-mortem [test] that we're doing," said GTE spokesman Vaughn Harring.

Yahoo Mail suffered an outage last month as well, leaving nearly 20 percent of its users without service for several hours.

When book and music buyers hit Amazon this morning, a message was posted stating: "We're sorry! Our store is closed temporarily for scheduled maintenance. If you enter your email address, we'll notify you as soon as we reopen. Again, our apologies for the inconvenience."

The two outages, though resulting from separate incidents, demonstrate the vulnerabilities inherent among Internet properties. Though popular sites such as Yahoo and Amazon continually attract millions of visitors and enviable ad dollars, they are still at the mercy of occasional glitches in the network.

The Amazon outage, along with the notice, mirrored a similar situation in January when Amazon went down for nearly 12 hours, also as a result of maintenance on the system.

An Amazon spokesman said the stall was part of an ongoing series of downtimes to "enhance the overall reliability and availability of the site." He added that the maintenance was slated to last only four hours, but instead took longer than expected.

"In the longer term, the net result is a better experience for our customers, although this is an inconvenience now," he said. "It took longer than we planned."