Microsoft’s email services, Outlook and Hotmail, as well as SkyDrive (its cloud service) went through a lengthy downtime starting Tuesday afternoon. The service interruption ultimately lasted more than 16 hours, but the company was able to restore the services earlier for some users. While Microsoft initially didn’t offer an explanation for the outage, a post on the Outlook blog by Windows Services vice president Arthur de Haan revealed that it happened because of a “rapid and substantial temperature spike” in a data center that stores parts of those aforementioned services.
According to Haan, Microsoft was updating firmware in the data center – a routine process – when servers started overheating, activating safeguards that blocked users’ access to Outlook, Hotmail, and SkyDrive. The safeguards came on quick enough to prevent damaging the servers, but the outage still lasted that long because the company had to call in personnel to restore access. “Requiring this kind of human intervention is not the norm for our services and added significant time to the restoration,” de Haan writes. He says Microsoft is working to prevent the same thing from happening in the future, which the company really should do if it wants users to stick to Outlook now that Gmail (which is also far from perfect) is the most used email service in the world.
Email outages are always supremely annoying, especially for those whose jobs include being glued to their inboxes, so we suggest routinely backing up your email by using clients like Thunderbird.