1. Have there been issues with Zoho Mail over the last few days?
Yes, customers are facing issues with Mail. Many are unable to receive email. Email on mobile devices is very slow and unreliable. Updates are available at https://blogs.zoho.com/service-updates and we're also posting on our @Zoho Twitter handle.
2. What is the issue?
Along with our genuine apologies, we owe you a straight explanation. Here's what's going on.
The Mail issue started with an inadvertent bug that was introduced in the mail software while we were making infrastructure upgrades to the system. Stuff like this unfortunately happens in software and vendors have learned to manage this. We caught this and fixed it. This was an issue limited only to mobile mail and to users with non-Zoho email client software, like Outlook (these use one of the IMAP or POP "protocols" to pull down and send mail from your mobile device or a different mail client). Under normal circumstances this would have caused a glitch in the customer experience. But this time, things got exacerbated.
The bug (and its fix) resulted in all mail clients (the software on your phones) re-syncing with our servers, overwhelming them with simultaneous traffic. Imagine each user device reloading all their messages, keeping track of read and unread messages, folders, hierarchies, and everything you've come to expect from modern email - all at the same time. We added more servers and nodes, but were unable to match the demand.
Over the last 48 hours, we have observed a bottle-necking pattern. As major geographies come online early in their mornings, all devices start to sync at the same time, slowing down service for everyone, all over again. This started to impact not just mobile mail, but ALL mail, including web mail.
That our technical staff were hit by the Chennai flood disaster (#ChennaiFloods) - the worst in almost a hundred years - with limited or no connectivity, power, or transportation added to the whole mess.
3. How will you resolve this?
This is our top issue now. We have found some bottlenecks on the storage and server side, and relieved them. We have also made some infrastructure changes to manage the backlog itself. We continue to remain watchful to see if there are other issues that we might have missed.
4. How can I use email now?
You can still use your desktop browser and your mobile mail app. Some of you may know that you can also download the Zoho mail app from any of the app stores. These apps are “native”, more feature-rich, and do not use the inefficient POP or IMAP protocols. Unfortunately, we expect you will still see mail delays until the backlogged messages are freed.
6. Will I lose the emails my customers and contacts may have already sent me, that haven't arrived?
Your messages will not be lost. They are all just backlogged on our servers. Once the system gets to normal service, you will receive them. We do understand that many email messages are time-critical and we're really sorry we cannot fix this issue right now.
7. Do you have any idea when Mail services will be back up and normal?
Our best expectation is that this whole process will take a few days before mail response is immediate. Until then your mail will trickle in, possibly slower than usual. Please look out for our updates.