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eBay stumbles with outage

The auction site experiences a 90-minute outage, the first significant computer systems problem the company has seen in about a year.

Auction site eBay had a 90-minute outage Thursday, the first significant computer systems problem the company has seen in about a year.

eBay said the site was "intermittently unavailable" between 1:10 p.m. and 2:40 p.m. PT, according to a note posted on the site. Performance management company Keynote Systems said eBay's front door began to stall at 1 p.m. PT, with only 8 percent of the log-on attempts succeeding.

"We have identified and corrected the issue, and all pages are once again accessible," the note read. "We apologize for the inconvenience."

The cause of the outage wasn't released.

The company said the outage affected static pages on its site, including the eBay.com home page. In an earlier note to consumers during the outage, the company said people could still bid, sell and browse listings. But visitors who tried to go in via the front door were unable to reach any auctions.

Despite that, eBay sellers might not see any relief from the company. eBay's policy is to credit fees and sometimes extend auctions that were scheduled to end during or immediately after outages. But the company defines an outage as being an unplanned downtime involving either its search function or its bidding system.

Site glitches once plagued Web sites often as the number of visitors climbed unexpectedly. But in recent years, online companies have learned to manage traffic spikes better, and site outages have occured less frequently.

It's been more than a year since eBay suffered a significant outage. In January 2001, eBay's site was down for nearly 11 hours after its primary and backup systems failed because of the company's decision to delay replacing some of its hardware. In June 2001, an Internet routing problem left eBay's site intermittently accessible for about four hours.

This year, eBay is in the process of one of its most significant technological upgrades, installing eBay's "V3" next-generation shopping technology, which will include real-time updates for eBay's data warehouse and minute-by-minute updates for listings, currently updated once per hour.