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About ready to POP3: Day 6 of email wobbles at UK2 after services provider Tucows suffers 'service failure'

15% of customers affected as Canadian partner promises 'full mailbox services' today

Updated Customers of UK2 hosted email services have been complaining of missing emails from clients, as the platform heads into a sixth day of wobbles. Problems appear to have begun on Friday for users connecting via IMAP and POP3 and were said to be due to "a service failure" at the UK company's Canadian service partner Tucows.

Multiple Reg readers contacted us after being unable to receive or send emails for nearly a week, with one annoyed reader saying it had affected "several of my accounts since Friday – only emails sent since [the] outage started on Friday are available via webmail, all other[s] rely on you having a local copy."

This local copy issue resulted in some UK2 customers complaining on Twitter about "missing" emails, although the local web hosting company has reassured them that the incident would not result in any "data loss".

UK2, which offers professional email hosting from £1 a month, is one of the UK's largest hosting outfits and is owned by ecommerce firm The Hut Group, which bought it in May 2017.

The firm's status incident page explained: "We continue to work with Tucows following their service failure on Friday 17th July. This issue is not affecting all customers and is currently impacting approximately 15 per cent of our mailbox service users."

Another message, sent from UK2 to customers on Monday and seen by The Register, goes on to explain the issue will not result in data loss.

"From 02:30 UTC on July 17th 2020, our technical team became aware of a 3rd party issue affecting some of our clients connecting to the email platform via IMAP and POP3," it said.

"As a workaround, clients are able to send and receive emails from their account(s) via webmail."

In the service update issued on Monday 20 July, UK2 said access to old emails would only be possible if the customer had previously configured and accessed their emails via a mail client such as Outlook, Mail, Thunderbird, but they would not be able to send or receive any using the client. "A full root cause analysis will be provided to all affected customers once service has been fully restored," it added.

On Monday the firm said engineers were working on "service restoration and are currently estimating this could take up to 2 more business days".

As of 11:30 UTC (12:30 BST) UK2's service update website showed a partial outage affecting hosted email, although UK2 said earlier this morning that the "Tucows engineering team are completing final data integrity checks. Once that has been completed they will start work to restore mail services. We will notify our customers when that starts and give an indication of when mail services should be back online."

For its part, the wholesale division of Tucows, OpenSRS, which sells hosted email among other services, said it had experienced a partial outage on Cluster A on Friday that had affected "specific customers beta testing new features". It said its "engineering team continues to work with our solution provider towards restoring the service for those affected (beta testing) customers. The recovery effort is in the final phase and we should have more information to report [on Wednesday]."

It said webmail was experiencing "degraded performance", but emphasised that few customers were affected and that cluster A remained operational for all production services.

Several of the UK2Group's hosting service provider brands (besides appear to have been affected by the issues, including Westhost and Midphase.

A UK2 spokesperson told The Reg: “We sincerely apologise to the small proportion of customers affected by this isolated issue at one of our third-party providers Tucows, and are working with them to restore full mailbox services as soon as possible.

"There has been no loss of data and we are providing alternative mailbox facilities to those UK2 customers affected while work continues to resolve the issue. We will keep customers regularly updated on our progress via the status page as we receive further details from Tucows.”

Tucows has yet to respond to our request for comment. ®

Updated to add

It appears, for some people at least, the service is now back up and running.

“We can confirm the Tucows engineering team have now restored all mail services," states an email sent by The Register reader who tipped us off about the outage."

"We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this has caused our customers. We remain in close dialogue with Tucows around this incident and next steps. We will be distributing a full Root cause analysis to all affected customers."

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