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Fasthosts 'electrical issue' halts service for four hours

Where's the fire?

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Fasthosts, the UK's largest web hosting company, suffered a four hour outage to its service yesterday evening.

However, the web-hosting firm was being a little coy about answering the phone this morning to explain what had happened.

But it did issue an apology to customers:

We apologise unreservedly to those of our customers who suffered interruptions to their web, email and/or broadband services earlier this evening. As soon as we were aware of the problem we diverted all available engineering resources to finding and implementing a solution. We were able to restore all services by 21:00, less than 4 hours after the problem was initially detected.

We realise that many of our customers depend on our services for their own businesses and that all of our customers expect and deserve a reliable and robust service from us. We sincerely regret that we were unable to prevent this issue and that some services were unavailable. Please be assured that we will thoroughly investigate the reasons behind this service interruption to ensure that the likelihood of similar problems in the future is minimised.

But attempting to get an official explanation from Fasthosts, which prides itself on its quick response to customer emails, has proved to be a slow process.

Eventually, posing as a worried Fasthosts user, El Reg spoke to a very chatty customer service rep who told us that an email to staff said that "we identified a potentially significant electrical issue in one of our distribution panels which for safety reasons required us to conduct immediate emergency repairs".

We had also heard rumours that a fire at the firm's site in Gloucester may have been the cause of the major service disruption. However, the local fire brigade told us it hadn't received any calls pertaining to an emergency at Fasthosts.

The rep told us: "There was no fire but there was a fire alarm which was all part of the distribution panel issue. Obviously, having so many computers and servers in the building means the fire alarms are paranoid."

In order to deal with the electrical issue, Fasthosts had no option but to take down several servers. The firm has back-up generators in place that can run the data centre for a month in the event of a major system failure, said the rep.

Asked if customers could be assured that such a problem could be prevented in the future, the rep said: "I couldn't assure you that it wouldn't happen again. But it's the kind of thing that could be absolutely disastrous if it did." ®

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