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C I Host glitch leaves Web clients hanging

Technical problems at Web hosting firm C I Host cause 48,000 Internet addresses hosted by the company to become inaccessible.

Technical problems at Web hosting firm C I Host have caused 48,000 Internet addresses hosted by the company to be inaccessible since last night, the company confirmed today.

Bedford, Texas-based C I Host, which hosts sites for some regional McDonald's restaurants, Dallas-area hotels and other smaller home pages, experienced corrupted data on its domain name servers (DNS). DNS is the system that points Internet links, such as Mcdonalds.com, to specific Internet protocol addresses.

The DNS outage also affected C I Host's own Web site, located at "www.cihost.com."

Because of the snafu, Web surfers are currently unable to access Web sites hosted by C I Host by typing in their well-known domain names. The outage is only the latest hiccup for Internet-related firms, highlighting the concerns many companies have when outsourcing their email, hosting and other information technology needs to small start-up companies.

Privately held C I Host said its clients' data is not damaged and that the problem, which was triggered late yesterday during the final stages of a $2 million network operations center construction project, is not related to the Year 2000 computer problem. The Y2K "millennium bug" is a date-sensitive programming flaw that could cause computers to malfunction or fail on New Year's Day.

"Data corruption is isolated to the name server only. It's absolutely not Y2K related," said C I Host spokeswoman Alison Bullock.

Bullock said the company has not determined exactly what caused the problem, but said C I Host engineers are working "around the clock" to solve the problem. Proper DNS functions are expected to resume eight hours after the problem is fixed because the technology takes time to propagate throughout the network, she said.

"At this time, this restoration is moving forward as rapidly as possible," C I Host chief executive Christopher Faulkner said in a statement. "All of our clients may rest assured that no data loss has occurred and that name servers are expected to return to full function."

C I Host's clients also include PC game maker Sierra Online, rib restaurant Tony Roma's and some regional GTE sites.

The company guarantees 99.99 percent uptime for its customers. "We plan to take care of our customers," Bullock said, with regard to a future determination on refunds or credits.

The company has not yet determined how or whether it will issue refunds or otherwise credit its customers for the downtime, Bullock said.

C I Host competes against larger Web hosting firms such as Exodus Communications and Global Crossing's GlobalCenter.

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