Quickbooks Online outage leaves some customers in sour mood

Intuit says it has restored all customers, but angry sentiments linger

Intuit's Quickbooks Online service suffered an outage this week that left "a small subset" of customers unable to access their data, but the company says the problems with the on-demand accounting software have now been fixed.

"We understand your time is valuable and we apologize," Intuit said in a blog posting on Thursday.

"The issue first appeared when we were exercising our disaster recovery capabilities — over the weekend, we had 'flipped' our active and backup data centers while maintaining continuous data replication between them," the post adds. "At 10pm PDT 5/22, we introduced a storage-level change to address a performance issue we noticed on Monday. Unfortunately, an error occurred while implementing the change, and this error introduced a synchronization gap. Once we realized that the data had not synchronized for a subset of customers, at 9 AM PDT on 5/23, we took them offline until we could fix it."

Most customers were restored during the course of the day on Wednesday but the data for about 2 percent couldn't immediately be synchronized, according to Intuit.

"At 10pm PDT on 5/23, we provided access to approximately 2000 of these customers who had very few transactions so they could very quickly synchronize their data. At 10am PDT on 5/24, we restored access to the remaining 3700 customers," it added. "All affected customers can now login to QuickBooks to see what steps to take to re-enter the few transactions that are missing."

But this explanation was cold comfort to some users who posted comments on the QuickBooks Online blog.

"[Intuit has] lost about a hundred (or more) entries that my team and I made between 10pm Pacific on Tuesday night, and 10am Pacific the next day," one wrote. "This situation is so tragically, monumentally stupid that I can’t even bring myself to get angry about it."

"This is more than annoying – I feel this borders on breach of contract," another user wrote. "I was without service for over 24 hours."

An Intuit spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the total number of users affected and whether those customers would receive a financial credit to compensate for the downtime.

QuickBooks Online suffered another serious outage in June 2010. In a letter apologizing to customers at the time, Intuit CEO Brad Smith said the problem occurred due to an accidental power failure while the company was doing some routine maintenance.

Meanwhile, Intuit is gearing up for a major system upgrade over the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend in the US. It will affect QuickBooks, QuickBooks Payroll and Point of Sale, but not QuickBooks Online.

The upgrade process means that some online services associated with the affected products will be unavailable at different times during the weekend, according to an information page on Intuit's site.

International versions won't be part of the upgrade, according to Intuit.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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