Some Exchange Online users reporting email problems

Some users of Microsoft's hosted Exchange Online service were without email for hours due to what Microsoft called a service interruption.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Right on the heels of a June 23 Lync Online outage affecting a number of users in North America, a number of Exchange Online users are reporting email problems.


On June 24, a number of Exchange Online users on Twitter were complaining they were not receiving email. As of noon ET, a number of these users said they had been without email all morning.

Exchange Online is Microsoft's hosted email service. Exchange Online is available as a standalone service, as well as part of Microsoft's Office 365 bundle of services that include hosted Exchange, SharePoint and Lync. (It's worth pointing out that neither these standalone services nor Office 365 is hosted on Microsoft's Azure public cloud at this point.)

A June 24 thread on the Office 365 Community site included questions from several users who have been unable to sign into Office 365 and/or Exchange Online. Some of these users said that the Service Health Dashboard indicated there were no problems.

 But I did see one user's dashboard (thanks @BrianForLLP) that indicated that as of 10 a.m. ET, Microsoft was acknowledging it was experiencing a service interruption.

"Current Status: Microsoft has identified an issue in which a portion of capacity responsible for facilitating connectivity to the Exchange Online service has entered into a degraded state. Engineers are actively working on a solution to remediate impact."

Cloud service degradations, interruptions and outages happen. Right now, I don't know how widespread today's problems are. I am an Office 365 Small Business user using Exchange Online and I am not currently affected by this issue. But others definitely are. And given this problem happened just a day after Lync Online had problems due to "network routing infrastructure issues," it's worth calling out, in my opinion.

I've asked Microsoft officials for an update as to what's happening and what steps are being taken to resolve this issue. No word back so far. If and when I get more, I will update this post.

Update 1 (1:15 pm ET): I have been hearing from users across the US affected by the outage, as well as at least one user in Canada. Some users are reporting that their sent emails are bouncing and being marked as undeliverable. One user said his dashboard is indicating that Microsoft is not planning to provide an update on the situation until 7 pm UTC (3 pm ET). 

Update 2 (2:30 pm ET): Not much from Microsoft on this, but for what it's worth, here's the statement on the Exchange Online problems from a spokesperson:

"Some Exchange customers are experiencing email delays. Our engineering team is actively working to resolve this issue. We recommend customers visit the service health dashboard for real-time updates."

As some users have noted, their health dashboards are indicating all is well when it is not. And a number of users are reporting not just delays, but complete inability to sign into Outlook.

Also: I am no longer receiving all my email through Exchange Online. Several messages I was told were sent to me haven't shown up.

Update 3 (3:15 pm ET): 7 pm UTC has come and gone with no update. @BrianForLLP's updated dashboard is now indicating Microsoft will provide an update on the situation at 9 pm UTC, or 5 pm ET.

Update 4 (4:30 pm ET): I just got a bunch of delayed emails delivered to my hosted Outlook inbox. (Most were notes from readers letting me know Exchange Online was down, ironically.)

As my ZDNet colleague Simon Bisson noted, the outage seems to have been resolved. Here's what his service dashboard is now saying happened:

"Current Status: Engineers have mitigated impact by rerouting traffic away from the degraded capacity. Mail flow is now improving and customers will begin to see service recovery as messages are being delivered and email queues drain.

Customer impact: Affected customers were unable to send and receive messages sent through the Exchange Online Protection service. This affected inbound messages from external senders as well as sending to external recipients. Additionally, customers running in a hybrid scenario with on-premise mailboxes and those in the Office 365 cloud may have seen mail delays."

Update 5 (June 25): Microsoft sent me this statement around 7 pm ET on June 24:

"On Tuesday, June 24th, 2014, at approximately 6:30 AM EDT, some North American customers experienced email delays with Exchange Online. The issue has since been resolved and the service is now functioning normally. We sincerely apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this incident may have caused and continuously strive to improve our service and using these opportunities to drive even greater excellence in our service delivery."

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