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Handling an Office 365 Outage

By October 8, 2015September 11th, 2020Blog, Microsoft

The cloud is a cost effective solution for companies of many sizes to get enterprise level email, IM, phone, and more. However, one of the many fears about moving to the cloud is around outages.

Office 365 recently experienced a world-wide outage that affected most platforms, and most users. Some users were able to remain connected to email and Lync throughout the outage; although they could not establish new connections if they booted Outlook or Lync on another computer.

The outage lasted a few hours, and then services were fully restored. During that time a number of questions came up for IT administrators that are important to consider when you’re thinking of moving to the cloud, or if you’re already in the cloud, what you should do during an outage.

How do I determine if there is a global outage, or if it’s just me?

  1. One of the easiest ways to determine Office 365 health is through the Office 365 administrative dashboard:

  1. If the dashboard is showing an outage, and you want to determine if the outage affects more than your company, an easy way is to check twitter. The #office365 hashtag is used frequently in conjunction with the keyword “outage” during global outages, like the one we experienced on August 13th/14th
  1. If the dashboard is NOT showing an outage, but you’re still experiencing issues try checking twitter to see if anyone else is having problems. If it still seems like you’re alone in experiencing an outage, it’s a good indication that you need to call Microsoft support immediately.

What do I do during an outage?

  1. If the outage seems to be global in nature there is little you can do. You can try calling Microsoft support, but they are very likely to be overwhelmed with calls about the outage, and the phone bank will not have any more information to give you on the nature of the outage, or a time for resolution. The best course of action is to determine exactly what services are down, and establish a system to check every 15-30 minutes if they have come back up.

As soon as services are restored you will be the first to know (if you’re systematically checking them) and then you can announce to your company that services are available again.

  1. Give your employees alternatives to working in email, IM, etc. It has been said that the healthiest thing anyone can do in today’s technology focused world is to completely disconnect from tech for just 10 minutes a day. Take advantage of down time, and use it as an opportunity to increase the mental health of your employees

Is Office 365 still a good option if I have to deal with outages?

Yes! On-premises Exchange installations incur more down time on average than Office 365, they just aren’t as highly publicized. And with the cost savings that many companies are able to reap from moving to the cloud it still comes out to be overwhelmingly cheaper and more reliable to use Office 365 than to invest in on-premises Exchange and Lync services, for most companies.

Allison Sousa, PEI



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