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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer "very sorry" for Mail outage

If you're one of the one per cent, you're not very lucky – at least, if you're a member of that seemingly small fraction of Yahoo Mail users who were locked out of their accounts for quite some time last week.

Small fraction, we note, but not small count. With Yahoo Mail serving approximately one hundred million daily users, the implication is that roughly one million people or so have been having quite a difficult – if not impossible – time accessing their accounts for a not-so-insignificant amount of time.

So much so, that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer herself took to Tumblr (the company's big billion-dollar acquisition this year) to throw out an apology to those affected by the mess. No, she did not use animated .gifs.

"For many of us, Yahoo Mail is a lifeline to our friends, family members and customers. 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. Unfortunately, the outage was much more complex than it seemed at first, which is why it's taking us several days to resolve the compounding issues," Mayer wrote.

As for the specifics of the outage, Mayer went on to say that a hardware outage on one of Yahoo Mail's storage servers – affecting the one percent of users previously mentioned – went down early on Monday 9 December. The expectation was that engineers would be able to switch over to the backup systems and work on restoring access to the primary, with everything operational once again just after lunch (Pacific Time) on Tuesday.

"However, the problem was a particularly rare one, and the resolution for the affected accounts was nuanced since different users were impacted in different ways. Some of the affected users were unable to access their accounts, instead seeing an outdated 'scheduled maintenance' page which was a confusing and incorrect message (this has since been corrected and updated). Further, messages sent to those accounts during this time were not delivered, but held in a queue," Mayer wrote.

As of her post on Friday afternoon, Yahoo's teams have restored service to "almost" everyone who was affected by the outage. In addition, the undelivered emails have now been delivered. Yahoo continues to work on restoring IMAP access and users' individual inbox configurations (as in, which folders messages get placed in or the configuration of which messages get starred in one's inbox, etc.), and Mayer says that the company plans to "communicate directly" with individual users regarding their progress on that.

"We can, and we will, do better in the future," Mayer wrote.

As for Mayer's explanation itself, one could argue that it's a bit too little, too late – not only have users and small businesses been increasingly vocal about their complaints regarding Yahoo Mail's broken service, but they've also taken Yahoo to task for its communication regarding the issue. Chief Yahoo critic Kara Swisher, of AllThingsD, put it best:

"How many people have been or are currently impacted and for how long? Yahoo will not respond," wrote Swisher in a Wednesday article.

"Where are the outages taking place? Yahoo will not respond."

"What exactly is being done to fix the problem? Yahoo will not respond."

"Instead, Yahoo has relied on a series of news-free tweets on the issue, which only began appearing yesterday and today, as well as promises it was fixed when it was not," she added.