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MSN email goes down twice

Microsoft Network suffers two email outages, tying up customers' mail for as long as 20 hours.

Microsoft Network this week became the latest Internet service provider to suffer an embarassing email outage that held up customers' incoming and outgoing mail.

MSN is far from the only ISP suffering from email technical problems. Customers have complained about similar problems using services from IBM, AT&T WorldNet, America Online, Sprint, and Pacific Bell. But that is no consolation for an estimated 2 million subscribers who missed messages.

On Saturday, MSN suffered a 20-hour outage after a routine system upgrade. When the server was rebooted, a Check Disk program that looks for corruption held up the mail server from Saturday afternoon through Sunday. Mail for customers with addresses T through Z was queued during the outage but not sent, the company said.

The second outage wasn't as long, but more members were affected. MSN's members couldn't receive or send email from around 8 a.m. to noon PT yesterday.

The problem had to do with the software that verifies users when they log in. Email was restored this time, but Microsoft has not determined the cause of the glitch.

"This outage was due to a bug that has been checked and is being fixed within the authentication service. We don't anticipate this happening again," Jeff Sanderson, general manager of marketing for the Microsoft Network said.