After a week of Yahoo Mail outages that began four days ago, CEO Marissa Mayer has posted an apology to the company Tumblr. In it, she gives some details about the issue, which was apparently related to a hardware failure — and says that the issue affected 1% of Mail users.
“For many of us, Yahoo Mail is a lifeline to our friends, family members and customers,” reads Mayer’s apology. “This week, we experienced a major outage that not only interrupted that connection, but caused many of you a massive inconvenience — that’s unacceptable and it’s something we’re taking very seriously. “
The issue began on December 9th late in the evening, when a hardware outage alerted the engineering team to an issue with storage that served 1% of Yahoo’s users. The issue, says Mayer, was a ‘particularly rare’ one. Mayer also notes that a confusing ‘scheduled maintenance’ error which some users had seen during the emergency was in error.
Mayer says that, as of this afternoon, Yahoo has restored access to ‘almost everyone’ and delivered the queue of messages that was held up from being delivered. IMAP access has not been completely restored, nor has the complete inbox states of users with folders and ‘star’ statuses. So if you log in to your inbox and see that stuff still missing, it’s theoretically coming. Yahoo says it will be reaching out to individual users on the status of their inboxes.
“Above all else, we’re going to be working hard on improvements to prevent issues like this in the future. While our overall uptime is well above 99.9%, even accounting for this incident, we really let you down this week,” Mayer’s note concludes. “We can, and we will, do better in the future.”
The outage began suddenly and has gone on for an extremely long period of time, especially for a critical service like email. We reported on the issues on Wednesday, noting that the issues were affecting small business owners.
“Yahoo is so overwhelmed they cannot answer phone calls or reply to emails,” one user told TechCrunch. “I’ve been on hold for hours and hours since last Sunday, spoke twice to a real person who in both instances sent me to another number that is absolutely unreachable.”
“They have shut down the websites of countless businesses. The last person I talked with [via phone] acknowledged they have no idea how many people they’ve impacted.”
While we found Yahoo’s recent Mail redesign to be pleasant, and to carry over some nice design cues from its mobile efforts, not everyone felt the same. Many users were irritated by its changes and the loss of some well-liked features. Yahoo Mail SVP of communications products Jeff Bonforte also sent an internal email that noted that the majority of internal Yahoo staffers had not yet switched to the new Mail product.
And just yesterday, Yahoo’s imaging site flickr also suffered an outage, going offline and remaining so for several hours.
Yahoo and Mayer have faced criticism over how they handled this outage, with All Things D’s Kara Swisher calling them out for what she said was poor communication. Mayer also published a brief update to her personal blog on Wednesday with the title Yahoo Mail restored and a link to a help doc, but the restoration had not in fact been completed.