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GeoCities to take the weekend off

Yahoo's Web publishing community will undergo a planned outage over the weekend, an uncharacteristic move given the Net's round-the-clock nature.

Yahoo's Web publishing community GeoCities will undergo a planned outage over the weekend, an uncharacteristic move given the Internet's round-the-clock nature.

The downtime will affect GeoCities' free members and its GeoCities Plus members who pay $4.95 a month. More advanced GeoCities services that cost more money, such as Pro, Webmaster and Advantage, will not be affected.

The planned downtime stems from the company's decision to move GeoCities' servers to Sprint's Web hosting services. GeoCities, like other parts of Yahoo, previously used Cable & Wireless' Exodus to host its operations. As a result of the move, GeoCities will be down beginning Friday at 9 p.m. PDT and will be restored on the morning of Sunday, May 19.

"We're moving the GeoCities servers to Sprint--which is why we'll be down for that period of time," said Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako.

Osako said the decision to move to Sprint was part of an "ongoing effort to strengthen the diversification and redundancy of our network." She added that scheduled downtimes will not be a commonplace occurrence for GeoCities users.

Yahoo and Sprint announced their Web hosting arrangement in January.

Yahoo has used Exodus to host its services for years. But a year ago, Yahoo suffered a series of service outages after an explosion in one of its Sunnyvale, Calif.-based data centers cut off its power supply. Yahoo is also headquartered in Sunnyvale.

Osako said Yahoo will continue using Exodus for hosting services.

Shutting down a service for over 24 hours is a rarity these days, especially on a heavily used service such as GeoCities. Message boards have not shown any indication of protest over the move, most likely because Yahoo had posted notices to members prior to the downtime. As of April, GeoCites had 31.6 million unique visitors in the United States, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.

Like many other services on Yahoo, GeoCities has been moving toward subscription fees as part of a companywide effort to diversify revenue. In March, Yahoo forced GeoCites members to begin paying monthly fees to use FTP (file transfer protocol) and higher bandwidth services. The free offering is more limited and requires users to accept banner ads.