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Amazon Web site crashes for third time in two weeks

SEATTLE, Washington (Reuters) -- For the third time in less than two weeks, the Web site of Amazon.com Inc. crashed Tuesday after what the online retailer said was an internal software mix-up.

"We ran two programs at the same time that will not run together. The combination of the two brought the site down, and we identified the problem and analyzed it," Amazon spokeswoman Kristin Schaefer said.

"We believe we've debugged it," Schaefer said.

The outage lasted about 40 minutes and the site was back up shortly after 4 p.m. PST, Schaefer said.

A message on Amazon's Web site seen shortly before 4 p.m. said the store was closed "temporarily."

A moment later that was replaced with a message saying, "System Error. We're sorry. We have encountered a technical problem, which we will investigate."

The message said orders placed when the problem hit had not been completed.

The crash stemmed from the same problem that hit Amazon last Thursday for about 15 minutes, and the week before for about 30 minutes, Schaefer said.

The problems affected only the Web site and not the internal systems that Amazon uses to process orders already placed, Schaefer said.

The outages came during the busy holiday shopping season, a time analysts say is crucial for the money-losing Seattle-based company as it strives to prove its Internet retailing model can make money.

Schaefer said it was coincidence that the difficulties had hit within such a short time frame.

"Certainly we never want something like this to happen, but unfortunately it does. The systems are up 365 days a year, 24 hours a day so unfortunately it's going to happen sometimes," Schaefer said.

Amazon's Web site had run trouble-free 99.9 percent of the time this year, Schaefer said. That would mean the site is down for less than 9 hours a year.

"We're feeling pretty good about that," Schaefer said.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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