Around 43,000 subscribers to Road Runner's cable
broadband-online service in Wichita and Kansas City, Kan., and western Ohio were unable to
receive e-mail last weekend due to a problematic database server, the company said.
"We did have problems that were resolved [last
Monday]," Road Runner vice president for public relations Sandra Colony said last
Tuesday. "Those are the main areas that were impacted, and it was a problem with an
Colony said consumers were able to send e-mail and access
the Internet between Feb. 26 and 28, but they were unable to receive their e-mail.
The failure occurred early that Saturday (Feb. 26), when a
Road Runner crew was carrying out scheduled maintenance and the server failed to boot back
up. Service was restored around 3 p.m. last Monday, and consumers began receiving their
e-mail about one hour later.
Colony said Road Runner technicians worked alongside
Microsoft Corp. personnel who were proficient with the company's "NT
Server" complex, which Road Runner uses in its Kansas City data center.
"The reason it took a fair amount of time to get back
up was primarily a decision made on the part of the technical team to proceed with
caution," she added.
Microsoft spokesmen could not be reached for comment.
Technicians were concerned about not losing the 280,000
e-mails that were stored during the outage, so they opted to proceed cautiously in fixing
the problem. "That's an enormous amount of mail," Colony said.
"Because of that diligence, we were able to recover 100 percent of that mail."
The outage was the longest experienced by Road Runner in
the central region, she added.
"We consider this to be a very serious problem, but it
was also a very contained problem," she said. "Any Internet technology has bumps
along the way. It's not fair to say we haven't experienced some difficulties.
This was probably one of the longest that we experienced. But again, it was
The company is now carefully scrutinizing all maintenance
procedures to ensure that they are in sequence and an outage does not occur again, Colony
Road Runner serves more than 550,000 customers in the areas
where it is offered. It competes with services like Excite@Home Corp., which has
experienced its own service outages across the nation. In January, Cablevision Systems
Corp.'s "Optimum Online" service had a one-week e-mail outage following a
holiday retail cable-modem push.
Excessive e-mail volume can periodically result in servers
crashing and being unable to keep up with demand.