Office 365's Cyber Monday failure

Cyber Monday at Microsoft wasn’t a sales event so much as an embarrassment.  Their Office 365 Exchange Server hosting went down, disconnecting Outlook software from the server.

On this occasion, The Register reports that users could continue working via the web browser interface.  Only the ActiveSync connection used by Outlook software was affected.

Back in mid-November some Office 365 users could not login because of a multi-factor authentication MFA failure.  Microsoft’s servers got a faulty code update which slowed down responses. Fast responses are needed on MFA servers because the authentication codes only work for about a minute.

This isn’t the first time there’s been Office 365 server problems and won’t be the last.

Be Prepared

It’s important to have a fall-back position and strategies ready to handle these hassles.  details what to do and how to prepare:

Alternative access to email.  There’s more than one way to access your mailbox.  If Outlook software isn’t working, try the web browser option or mobile apps on a phone or tablet.

Keep a copy offline.  Override Microsoft’s default caching in Outlook for Windows.  Keep a copy of all your messages, calendar and contacts on your computer.  That makes Outlook and you less dependent on a current mailbox connection.

Alternate mailbox.  Keep a second mailbox running, separately hosted from Microsoft’s system.  A Gmail account can be used to send emails if Office 365/ hosting goes down.  (the same applies if Gmail is your main mailbox, setup an alternative mailbox just in case).