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eBay blacks out for three hours

A power outage strikes a Qwest Communications facility that hosts many of the online auction giant's servers, rendering its services inaccessible.

A power outage in eBay's Web hosting facility crippled the Web auction service for nearly three hours, the company confirmed.

The outage on Wednesday night struck a Qwest Communications facility in Santa Clara, Calif., that hosts many of eBay's Web servers, according to eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove. While the Qwest glitch lasted only 10 minutes, eBay technicians were forced to shut down and reboot their local systems, rendering the company's Web site inaccessible between 8:55 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.

eBay said it will credit listing fees for sellers affected by the outage and extend their listing time for an additional 24 hours. The company also will reimburse the "10 cents for 10 days" fee for auctions that were active during the outage.

In the past, eBay has experienced lengthy outages that crippled the site for hours at a time. In 1999, the company suffered a number of high-profile glitches that sometimes made the site inaccessible for nearly a day and angered millions of users.

Since then, the company has strengthened its back-end systems to prevent prolonged outages. The company is in the process of upgrading its Web hosting functions by spreading out its facilities among many geographical regions, according to Pursglove.

"Over the last couple of years, we've been working on a hosting diversification strategy, and we've been identifying a number of different locations to handle our hosting functionality," Pursglove said.