Microsoft Teams, Office 365 users hit by global outage that lasted at least seven hours

This happened after a recent update caused a broken connection to an internal storage service, the company said. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - A global outage that lasted at least seven hours hit users of Microsoft’s Teams communications platform and Office 365 suite of apps on Thursday (July 21).

Many users around the world, including in the United States, Singapore and Japan, were unable to communicate with fellow colleagues from as early as 9am. Many switched to other conferencing and productivity applications to avoid business disruptions.

At around 4pm, Microsoft said on Twitter that most features had been restored. 

Its public update about the disruption went out at 9.47am, saying it had received reports of users being unable to access Teams or use any of its features and was investigating the issue., which tracks outages by collating status reports and user-submitted complaints, reported a peak of more than 3,200 affected users in Singapore at 9.49am.

Thousands were affected in other countries around the same time, including more than 4,800 in the US and over 18,200 in Japan.

Ms Sarah Ng, a Singaporean manager who works for a US-based non-profit organisation in Singapore, said she found herself unable to send messages on Microsoft Teams around 9.30am.

"I thought there was something wrong with my Wi-Fi network, so I restarted my router and modem, and also tried to use mobile data tethering," she said. "But I realised that other websites were working and it was just Microsoft Teams."

Ms Ng, 27, added that she was also having problems accessing her work documents on Microsoft SharePoint and editing them on the browser-based Office 365 version of Microsoft Word.

A Singaporean lawyer in a large international law firm said her office had to switch to Cisco’s Webex video-conferencing platform and phone calls instead of Teams.

“I got an actual phone call that wasn’t a scam call for the first time in months. It was an internal call that would’ve usually been on Teams,” said the lawyer, who declined to be named.

Mr Leon Chao, 29, who works at local online grocery store Better Bites, said he was unable to share files or sync updates on the cloud version of Microsoft Excel, which the company uses to manage and update product prices.

Not being able to sync files to Microsoft OneDrive meant that only one person could work on the data at a time. Multiple versions of files were also created, with differences between the copies on the company's computers and in the cloud.

“It was a mess. There was a sense of panic, especially early in the morning when nobody knew what was happening, and uncertainty about whether important information and data were overwritten or outdated,” Mr Chao said.

He added that his team would work on the data offline and not use the cloud version during the disruption.

At 11.02am, Microsoft said it had determined that the outage was due to a recent deployment - or roll-out of an app or feature - which contained a “broken connection to an internal storage service”.

“We’re working to direct traffic to a healthy service to mitigate impact,” Microsoft added.

It later acknowledged that other services connected to Teams were also affected, including Microsoft Word, Office Online and SharePoint Online.

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