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Yahoo! chief Marissa Mayer appeared to be furious with her company late on Friday when she took to the Purple Palace's official Tumblr blog to apologise to users of its email service, who were locked out of their accounts for several days.

"This has been a very frustrating week" she said, before adding "we are very sorry."

Mayer, who said that the disruption was "unacceptable", claimed that Yahoo! Mail served as a "lifeline to our friends, family members and customers." The massive outage could arguably not have come at a worse time, given the busy shopping season in the run up to Christmas.

Many people provide their email addresses when placing orders with online retailers, so an inability to access messages would have been a headache for some Yahoo! Mail peeps.

Yahoo!'s service went titsup last Monday (9 December) - at which point, Mayer said, it affected 1 per cent of the outfit's users whose messages were held on a storage system that suffered from a hardware failure. Engineers were optimistic that a fix would be in place by lunchtime the following day.

But then things turned decidedly darker for Mayer and her team.

She said that they encountered a "particularly rare" problem when attempting to restore the mail accounts as "different users were impacted in different ways."

As of late on Friday, Yahoo! was still in the process of restoring access to some of its users, who have a patchwork quilt of configurations on their accounts.

The IMAP protocol - used by some - proved particularly troublesome for Yahoo! engineers attempting to fix the blunder.

Mayer said:

We will continue to work on rolling out IMAP access and to fully restore inbox state (for example, which folders messages were placed in, which messages were starred, etc). This process differs for each user and as restoration continues, we’re committing to communicating directly with you on progress on an individual basis.

Above all else, we’re going to be working hard on improvements to prevent issues like this in the future. While our overall uptime is well above 99.9 per cent, even accounting for this incident, we really let you down this week.

We can, and we will, do better in the future.

Is it any wonder, then, that many of Yahoo!'s own staffers prefer to use Microsoft's Outlook? ®

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