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How Much More Pain Can Yahoo Email Users Take?

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer described last week’s massive email outage as “unacceptable” and something the company is taking very seriously. However, apart for promising remedial work to ensure it doesn’t happen again, she hasn’t outlined what the company is going to do about its ongoing problems — or given users any reassurance to hold on.

Too Much to Handle

Mayer claimed the mail went down because of a hardware outage in one of Yahoo's storage centers and affected only about 1 percent or 1 million of the company's email users. However, it created significant frustration for users, and prompted many of them to take to social media and bulletin boards to warn they were looking for new email providers.

Unfortunately for Yahoo, many of those who reported problems are small business users, the exact kind of users that Mayer wants to keep as she attempts to turn the company around. If you add into the mix the anger that many users expressed over the changes to email in the past year, it really gets you wondering how much more users can take before deserting Yahoo in droves.

But back to Mayer’s post on Yahoo-owned Tumblr late Friday night. She described the outage, which began on December 9th and lasted for much of the week, as “very frustrating” and acknowledged the “inconvenience” it caused many users was “unacceptable”. 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," she wrote. When the hardware outage hit, she continued:

The Mail team immediately started working with the storage engineers to restore access and move to our back-up systems, estimating that full recovery would be complete by 1:30 p.m. PT 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.”

Full service wasn’t restored until Friday — five days after the original outage — creating havoc for those who use Yahoo mail for business.

Bad and Getting Worse

Anger over the outage was inevitable. While it is unlikely Yahoo will ever reveal how many email users it looses over this incident, it is likely to be substantial. Consider what Aleksey Vytautas Ziuras stated in a Washington Post article. She called Yahoo "the new AOL" — and not in a good way.

Yahoo is toast. To know the current and future status of Yahoo, I encourage people to read about the Yahoo in Gulliver's Travels. While our business email is some kind of combo partnership between Microsoft Outlook and Gmail, I have instructed my some 100 employees that their personal accounts can no longer be Yahoo for company notices…”

And there's no end yet in sight. Just today, users were tweeting about continued problems — with one especially angry person calling the Yahoo mail team a "bunch of incompetent 20-year-old video game playing morons."

Yahoo’s Problems

This latest problem comes on top of the unpopular email redesign, which began last December and continued over the year with a major upgrade in October, and which was also mentioned in a number of discussions about the outage.


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