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Yahoo's Mayer Apologizes for Mail Outage

By Barry Levine
December 17, 2013 10:24AM

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Until this outage, Yahoo Mail had been receiving a lot of criticism for its new interface and thousands of users had posted complaints on the Yahoo user forum. But Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer had talked up Yahoo Mail quite a bit, so she has egg on her face, even if this doesn’t mean the end of the world for Mayer or Yahoo.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has apologized for her company’s major email outage. The question now is how much of an effect will the highly visible episode have on her efforts to turn the company around?

On Tumblr, which Yahoo owns, Mayer wrote on Friday that the several days of unavailable email for millions of customers was “unacceptable.” She said that “this has been a very frustrating week for our users and we are very sorry.”

Mayer added that Yahoo was taking the outage “very seriously,” but, as the company has previously said, “the outage was much more complex than it seemed at first,” which is why it took several days to resolve.

‘Particularly Rate One’

As Mayer said, there was a “specific hardware outage in one of our storage systems serving 1 percent of our users,” about which the network operating center became aware on Monday, December 9th at 10:27 p.m. PT. The Mail team, working with storage engineers, starting working to fix the problem and moving to back-up systems, and projected a full recovery by 1:30 p.m. PT on Tuesday.

But, she said, the problem “was a particularly rare one,” with different users being impacted in different ways, including an inability to access an email account and the non-delivery of email, which was stored in a queue.

As of Friday afternoon, Mayer said, access has been restored to “almost everyone” and backlogged messages have been delivered. The company is still working on fully restoring inbox states, so that messages are correctly starred and placed in the proper folders.

Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, reminded us that Mayer “had talked up Yahoo Mail quite a bit, so she has egg on her face,” even if this doesn’t mean “the end of the world” for her or Yahoo.

‘Needs a Lot of Work’

He added that “people who I know who are experts” have said that the backend systems of Yahoo Mail “are terrible.” Kay said that this episode, including how long it took them to figure out what was wrong, is merely “a symptom of a system that needs a lot of work.”

Until this outage, Yahoo Mail has also been receiving a lot of criticism for its new interface. The design provides a more modern, streamlined look to the venerable email service, but it has also dropped some common functions, like tabs, and hidden others, like saving an email as a draft.

Thousands of users have posted complaints on the Yahoo user forum, such as requests for the company to bring back the previous design’s tabs. Eventually, Yahoo marked “completed” at the end of various posting threads to close them off.

Additionally, it has become quite common for Yahoo Mail users to encounter a notice that the system is busy or “we’re experiencing some technical difficulties” when one makes an attempt to retrieve mail.

Tell Us What You Think


Posted: 2013-12-19 @ 9:44pm PT
I lost all my in box and sent emails that were there before the outage now they are all gone,, and I really need them restored,, the info and contact info I can not ever get back and I am unemployed and broke ,, these emails were the lifeline for me to find a job ,, I go through my inbox and previous sent emails to contact employers for employment, now I am screwed

Denis Distant:

Posted: 2013-12-19 @ 7:47am PT
This does not absolve Yahoo from responsibility for the weeks of unhelpful replies to enquiries by merely advising "change password" when even the ID got rejected as INVALID
We expect compensation perhaps by reverting to the former format so many thousands requested but were rebuffed


Posted: 2013-12-19 @ 2:37am PT
Switched to GMail already. Marissa (Ex Google) wants everyone to leave so just do it. Yahoo is now the worst email provider out there so if you stay and loose everything, you can only blame yourself.


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 6:12pm PT
Conspiracy theory: Maybe Yahoo wants out of the mail business. They can pretend they care but if enough people stay, watch for another outage to shake the stragglers off the tree. Just saying! :-P


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 3:12pm PT
The yahoo e-mail service must be being run by elementary students. I have had a yahoo account since the 90's but finally today set up a gmail account. Hate to change but these constant attempts by yahoo to change their format and then today half my messages did not come through and the ones that did were all out of order. Then all at once the e-mails that came in and went out this afternoon all disappeared.


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 1:40pm PT
I've been using Yahoo Mail for many many years. I've never had this kind of problem, the last couple of weeks have been horrible and the new interface has some improvements but several problems. I was having problems just going to the next email in the inbox and now I know it's related to a much bigger problem. I don't want to change this account as I've had it since the 90s, but it may be time. Sad day for Yahoo.


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 1:01pm PT
Have been without mail service for one week. Yahoo has issued 5 Incident #'s telling me someone would f/u with me. They directed me to call 800# to reset password. I was dropped from my call three times--today after on hold for over 2 1/2 hours.You can't speak to a human being in this company. It's pathetic and embarrassing for them as a company.


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 11:46am PT
I like the previous design's tabs. Please change back..


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 11:34am PT
My business Yahoo email account has be unavailable for three weeks now. And that is not one of the free email accounts, I actually paid an annual fee for my account


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 11:27am PT
There have been major issues ever since the horrible new interface went into effect. The worst thing is clicking "send" and having your email vanish into thin air. This has happened so many times that I am now forced to copy my messages before I hit the send button, just in case. Nothing is more infuriating than to have to type an entire email over from scratch. Have already investigated other mail alternatives and have decided to switch, just deciding where to. Any and all suggestions welcome!

Captain Rick:

Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 11:15am PT
Soon there will be NO Yahoo, people are not as dumb as Yahoo believes. Hopefully their stock crashes just like their e-mail service, if you would ever call that SERVICE!!!!!

Kathy Timms:

Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 11:11am PT
Haven't been able to open my emails for over a week.....totally unacceptable!!


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 10:44am PT
Yup, it stinks. Classic was better. Gmail for me too.

Joan Groenewoud:

Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 10:28am PT
I am trying to log into my yahoo email right now and keep getting an error message. I don't want to change email providers I like yahoo. Please help


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 10:06am PT
Task #241 - Switch to gmail: "COMPLETED"

R de Castro:

Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 8:48am PT
The problem has not been fixed as of 11:45 AM today 12/18/13. I get unable to send or receive message for the Verizon account etc etc.


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 7:41am PT
YAHOO is a total MESS! I just setup a new account with GMAIL. I am so sick of not being able to use email when I WANT TO!

s Brown:

Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 7:04am PT
I agree. They have made a mess of the yahoo accounts. For months I have to after signing in choose a window that comes up, do you want to upgrade. Whether I hit later or upgrade it does nothing and still shows up every single time I sign in it is very frustrating. Also that stupid window that asks if I want to change my scene. You can say again later or pick a scene just so you won't have to deal with it every single time and still the scene leaves making us have to do it all over again. My question: is the CEO doing a favor by hiring a family member or a special a friend? It seems the people in charge of running what use to be top notch system are big time failing. Why would you want to fix what was not broken?


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 4:56am PT
Unbelievably horrible now. I switched to GMail. COULDN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 4:38am PT
Yahoo has NO concern for customers. Otherwise they would NEVER have bullied millions into the current lousy system when we all preferred Classic.


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 1:43am PT
Good to know that you are with us during difficult times. apologies accepted.



Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 1:36am PT
It is disgrace, I have not been able to access my email box for weeks, and it will not recognise my pass word that I have used for years. This has also happened a year ago and I had to set up a new account. I made the mistake of using yahoo again, some one is snooping on us and shutting us down.


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 1:28am PT
The unchanging "regularly scheduled maintenance" message was pure genius to infuriate users.


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 1:18am PT
Points out the corporate culture of take no ownership of problems and stick your head in the sand. (and BTW where's my bonus?) Zero credibility.


Posted: 2013-12-18 @ 12:49am PT
Yahoo mail is a joke. Their reply from their CEO has basically been "We don't really care, it will probably happen again." Just goes to show you how little CEOs know about their own company and how little work they actually do.


Posted: 2013-12-17 @ 9:41pm PT
So the real question is when is this thing gonna
Be back and running? Or do the heads @ yahoo
Even know?


Posted: 2013-12-17 @ 6:47pm PT
Probably the best thing Yahoo! can do at this point, is revert back to the most successful version of Yahoo! Mail (2010-2012). They took a huge step backwards in usability, performance, and stability. People are migrating to Gmail now (as I am).


Posted: 2013-12-17 @ 3:39pm PT
First thing to do to get things straight should be showing her the door. And asking her to close it from the other side.


Posted: 2013-12-17 @ 11:51am PT
The architects of Yahoo Mail are so set in their old ways they forgot just distributing Cassandra nodes to replicate doesn't do zilch when you use the same NAS/SAN for keeping the data and share it across replication nodes. Unfortunately there is no cure since the cure is to get rid of these people and they will never do that.

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