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AOL Shuts Down, Issues Email Warnings

A brief planned outage to install new software evolved into a two-hour shutdown for America Online subscribers yesterday. The outage lasted longer than expected due to problems with the new software, according to company officials.

In his latest monthly letter to subscribers, AOL president Steve Case acknowledged increased system problems in recent weeks including busy access numbers, disconnects, and system sluggishness. Case attributes the problems to growing pains and said that the company is working to alleviate them.

Case also warns members not to give out their passwords, citing an incidence of fraud involving people posing as AOL employees. A new warning that is expected to be posted in an upcoming letter to subscribers may prove to be even more serious.

A destructive file, attached to email, has been circulated throughout AOL and the Internet. Opening the mail message is harmless, but trying to run the file, called AOL Gold or install.exe, could destroy a hard drive, according to a company spokesman. The company says it will advise members not to download files from strangers.