Microsoft 365’s hosted email recently had an issue where it filtered out proper email, wrongly designating it as junk mail. While the problem was remedied quickly, it highlighted something important: with cloud services so prevalent now, you need to know just who to blame when a problem occurs. If a cloud service is down, how can you determine whether the issue is with it — or with you?
There are actually a variety of ways to figure out what’s going on. Here’s my rundown of how to do just that, from what should be obvious to lesser-known techniques and resources.
Let’s start with something simple: issues with a website. The most obvious way to check whether a site is down is through a third-party service. If a site like https://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/ indicates a site is having issues, you know the problem is not about your access — everyone is likely affected. That means your Internet connection isn’t broken, your router doesn’t need to be rebooted, and you can skip all those things you do when you think the problem is with your computer system.
Twitter is your friend
Twitter is often a key way to track issues affecting various Microsoft platforms, so it’s important to follow the right accounts. I keep tabs on Microsoft 365 (M365) service issues by following the official Microsoft 365 Status account, which I recommend to any M365 subscriber. On my phone, I’ve set the Twitter app to send me alerts when the Microsoft 365 account posts a tweet. Those notifications, which you can also set up on the desktop, are like an early warning system for trouble. They can alert you to issues with a service and when they’re resolved .
Trouble with Windows 10 and Windows 10 updates can be tracked the same way. The Windows Update twitter account notifies me when there are new Windows patch releases and about any widespread issues related to any updates. (The account will often link to the company’s known issues page, which shows the latest resolution.)
I also follow the Windows IT Pro account for alerts about various new topics and trending issues. Often, this account points me to new information about Microsoft releases and tips on getting more from Windows. And the MicrosoftHelps twitter account is open to direct messages allowing you to reach out directly to try and get support.
Although I’ve yet to find an official listing of all the Microsoft-related twitter accounts in use, I routinely stumble across them. One trick: review who the official Microsoft accounts follow. For example, the MicrosoftHelps account follows many other official accounts, including AzureSupport, Xboxsupport, MicrosoftEdge, Surface, as well as HP and Dell.
KB articles (and other sites) to the rescue
Reviewing changes made to Knowledge Base articles can often provide a hint about problems that might have cropped up. Following the site http://kbupdate.info/ allows me to find KB articles that document issues and resolutions; this content is especially useful for IT admins and other IT pros.
For more mainstream users, the Office website keeps track of fixes or workarounds for recent issues in the various Office platforms. Starting with Outlook, the site also tracks fixes for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Access, as well as issues affecting the macOS versions of Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote. You can also identify and track problems in Outlook.com, OneDrive, and Skype for Business.
Other resources and options
Another venue I rely on that lists a multitude of Microsoft 365 links is MSportals.io, a site run by Adam Fowler. It site gathers together all of the sites and portals a typical IT admin logs into. (You can further filter by roles and go directly to end-user portals to log in.) I use it constantly since the number of URLs to try to remember is way too much for me.
You can also obtain support using the Windows Admin venue in Discord, the Voice-over-IP, instant messaging/digital distribution platform for communities. Reddit is another alternative where trending issues affecting Windows 10 will often pop up — along with recommendations and solutions. (I should warn you: posters in Reddit often have unusual gaming computers that may have issues most users won’t see. You’ll often see posters reporting BSODs that aren’t common.)
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget the resources and forums at AskWoody.com, and, of course, this blog. We rarely get stumped for long when dealing with computer issues.