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Glitch tears down AOL home pages

America Online confirms that a "hardware error" caused a "small amount" of people to lose personal home pages hosted on the Internet giant's servers.

America Online confirmed Wednesday that a "hardware error" caused a "small amount" of people to lose personal home pages hosted on the Internet giant's servers.

Those affected were people using AOL Hometown, a free service that lets them publish and design personal Web pages. Hometown users began noticing the effects of the glitch last week when they tried accessing their file transfer protocol (FTP) pages and found nothing. FTP is a popular means of publishing content on the Web.

This not the first time in recent memory that technical problems left some Hometown users brooding in the dark. In February, a routine server upgrade caused problems for people accessing and uploading files onto Hometown pages. AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham denied any connection between the latest issue and the previous server upgrade problems.

"We regret any inconvenience this has caused and will work with users to help them create new pages with our free Web publishing tools," Graham said.

Many of those affected vented their anger and anxiety on message boards.

"What the Heck! Mine have been gone for couple of days also!" one Hometown user wrote in a message board posting. "Why can't someone explain why this happens! It sure shouldn't! We work too long and hard on these pages for them to up and disappear like this!"