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iCloud Email Outage Lasts Over a Day

For about 30 hours starting on 11 September 2012, iCloud’s email service was spotty or unavailable for what Apple describes on its iCloud status page as 1.1 percent of its users. That may sound small, but in raw numbers, we’re talking about at least 1,650,000 people. The outage, unexplained so far, prevented access via email client software and the iCloud Web site.

Apple claims that service was “restored for all users” on 12 September 2012, but many people reported that incoming email was still unavailable. As of the morning of 13 September 2012, Apple says “Mail access has been restored for all users. Incoming messages sent during the service interruption may be delayed. Normal service will be restored ASAP.”

If iCloud queued but didn’t deliver incoming messages, Apple’s servers may simply be working through the backlog. If iCloud instead deferred incoming messages, the SMTP servers sending those messages might retry them for some period of time, but if messages are deferred for more than 24 hours, they may bounce back to their senders. In short, if you’re writing to or receiving mail from a or account, it’s worth checking to make sure nothing has been lost.

During the worst of the MobileMe transition, Apple promised to communicate better and more fully about problems. Apparently, that was a short-lived situation. At least the status page provided some information, even if it was merely confirmation that the failures users were experiencing weren’t local.

The moral of the story is that it’s always good to have an alternate email address that you can fall back on should your main one become unavailable, regardless of where your mail account is hosted.


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Comments about iCloud Email Outage Lasts Over a Day
(Comments are closed.)

dave nuss  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2012-09-12 16:44
This is extremely disappointing for me, with particularly bad timing, probably worse for others who use Apple mail for business. Total lock-out for now over 30 hours, with status page expecting resolution in another 14 hours! No help or useful information from status page or Apple Care or Apple PR. No work arounds available, we're just out of luck with Apple's useless apology. Outrageous! Sorry iPhone 5, step aside while we pummel Apple for this worst-ever (?) Apple mail outage. Grrrr!
Bette Piacente  An apple icon for a TidBITS Supporter 2012-09-12 17:48
This was my first ever experience with an outage from Apple Mail services - I consider myself blessed! Fortunately, I had other email servers to rely on for important communications. I guess this just points out that everything digital WILL fail - it is only a matter of when. So users always need to have a "Plan B."
I have seen a lot of angry posts on the internet the last 24 hours regarding this issue, and I don't mean casually ticked off, but insanely vile and ugly feelings being expressed. I really do think we all need to take a deep breath these days before we type or talk.
I also wish tech companies would be more forthcoming about what is truly wrong. I am responsible for tech support in a small business and I know that sometimes there is NO way to know exactly when something will be fixed. But I always try to keep the users and customers in the loop as to where we are at any given moment in the restoration process. Nerve wracking, I know. But part of the territory.
Long Story Short: users need to have info and have work arounds. Vendors need to inform the users in a meaningful way.
Clare Cross  2012-09-15 05:48
I have an iPhone 4 and had problems with my e-mail from Tuesday evening until Thursday morning. I thought that my settings had gone wonky,so on Wednesday morning re-set them, but no luck. Then went on line to see if any problems reported, but found nothing. As my bt internet service on the computer and that of a friend also on BT(but with no iPhone) were also working only spasmodically, I assumed that it was a BT problem. I think that we should have received more info via the net or national news as I wasted much of the day on September 12th trying to fix the problems myself by re-setting my iPhone and computer e-mail settings - to no avail! Today I received an apology from iCloud by e-mail. But were they solely reponsible if pcs using btinternet were also losing service from time to time?
Eugene  2012-09-16 23:27
iCloud web mail is offline yet again today! As at 4:26PM Sydney time, I'm getting the same error as I did when it went down last week. Very frustrating!
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-09-17 06:33
When you experienced the outage, did you check the iCloud status page linked in the article? I'm curious what Apple says in such situations - when I check it now (the next day), it claims all services are operational.