Microsoft Suffers Hotmail, Outlook Outage

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft's Hotmail email service was unavailable earlier this week. The company says an overheated server was responsible for the service being out-of-action for many users.

The problems affected Hotmail and its successor, Outlook.

Microsoft says the problem could be linked to a firmware issue. Firmware is software built into a specific device; in this case, a part of the equipment at a Microsoft data center. (Source:

Software Bug Causes Overheating

According to Microsoft, an attempt to update the firmware went awry and resulted in the temperature in the data center spiking in a "rapid and substantial" manner. The heat increase was so quick that it automatically triggered protective measures on the system. (Source:

Microsoft executive Arthur de Haan explained that the update "had been done successfully previously, but failed in this specific instance in an unexpected way ... This spike was significant enough before it was mitigated that it caused our safeguards to come in to place for a large number of servers in this part of the datacenter."

In the end, this process resulted in the server being taken offline. In addition, a back-up operation failed.

The result was that a small number of customers couldn't get any access to messages, while everyone else continued to read their emails, trouble-free.

Some Hotmail Customers Without Access For 16 Hours

Microsoft says the problem required both automated software fixes and human intervention. The latter solution is rarely needed, so the fix took a long time to carry out.

Microsoft says that most email accounts were accessible again roughly eleven hours after the outage began, with the rest back in action by the 16-hour mark.

The company says that it is working on ways to make sure the problem won't happen again. It also says that customers can visit a dedicated web page ( to see if there are general problems with the service or their own accounts.

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