For anyone addicted to mobile e-mail, the experience of a BlackBerry outage can be absolutely devastating. What happens during a BlackBerry outage that causes you to no longer receive emails for hours at a time? Is there anything you can do to prevent it?
What is a BlackBerry Outage?
When you are issued a company cell phone, you should only be using the mobile phone for business-related purposes. While it is handy to have the phone around voice calls and text messages, more and more corporate types are turning to the allure of mobile email and a BlackBerry PDA phone.
Perhaps the most important feature on something like the BlackBerry Curve is push email. This means that e-mail messages are "pushed" in real time, both in terms of messages that are sent from your device and messages that are being received. This is in sharp contrast to other technologies where it may only check with the server for new messages at set intervals.
By and large, corporate email on a BlackBerry is served through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). This allows users to have real-time access to a corporate email address like firstname.lastname@example.org. The BES serves as a "middleware" software package, working as an intermediary between the phone and the enterprise e-mail server.
What happens when there is a BlackBerry outage is that this BlackBerry Enterprise Server stops working for whatever reason. This is much the same as when the server hosting a website goes down and you can no longer access it. When the BES is down, you cannot access your email using your BlackBerry. As you can imagine, this makes for quite the frustrating experience.
What Causes It?
Just as there is no solitary reason why a website may be down, there is no unified reason for why there may be a BlackBerry outage. Presumably, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server should have a series of backups and safeguards in place to prevent such an outage, but even these safeguards have their weaknesses.
When you stop receiving email on your BlackBerry for an extended period of time, it could be due to an outage on the page of Research in Motion, the company that makes the BlackBerry line of devices and operates the BES service. The exact cause of such a "data service interruption" is very rarely explained. Major disruptions in service are rare, but they do happen.
Effects on Productivity and Sanity
Many people are addicted to email on the BlackBerry and cannot live a few moments without being connected to the service. This phenomenon has led to the creation of the term "CrackBerry", which represents this insatiable addiction for mobile email. You can see this in action at just about any corporate environment.
When on the road, not being connected to the corporate email can seriously hamper productivity. If an important email is sent out regarding the status of a corporate account or perhaps some timely information about a competitor, the end user needs to be made aware of this news. By not receiving these emails in real time, the worker could fall behind the rest of the industry. Time is money, after all.
Even so, while some people lose a little sanity when there is Blackberry outage, others find the outage to be a well-deserved reprieve. If you can't get to your email, you can't be blamed for not getting the message, right?
Overcoming an Outage
When there is a BlackBerry outage, it may still be possible to access and send email messages through a regular computer. This is because the e-mail account connected to a BlackBerry device is still associated to a regular email address, the same one that you'd read through a program like Microsoft Outlook.
Worse comes to worst, just wait it out. Research in Motion always gets to the root of the problem in a timely fashion, so if you give them a few hours, those BlackBerry e-mails will start trickling in soon enough.