A Brief History of Internet Outages

Gmail is back online, but some past Net meltdowns just went on and on. Herewith, a nostalgic look back at unplanned downtime from 1996 to today.

By  |  Monday, August 11, 2008 at 6:44 pm

Who? Netcom, an early ISP that was at one point the third largest one in America.
When? June 1996.
How long? 13 hours.
Why?The outage was caused by a Netcom programmer in San Jose, California, who entered an incorrect command and let too much traffic in, overwhelming the nationwide ISP’s point-of-presence servers and hub routers.
Upshot? Netcom’s stock took a hit.
Saving grace? While the outage was a bummer for Netcom’s 400,000 customers, it wasn’t a headline-making disaster like the AOL crash that happened two months later.
Any other problems? Nothing major, but Netcome wasn’t around that much longer; it was acquired by ICG in 1997, which was bought out by MindSpring in 1999, which merged with EarthLink later that year…
Who? Netflix, the Web’s dominant DVD rental service.
When? July 2007.
How long? 18 hours.
Why?Spokesman Steve Swasey attributed the outage to an unanticipated problem that he declined to describe.”
Upshot? Netflix’s stock tanked to its lowest price in two years.
Saving grace? Families that were deprived of movie night may have spent the time actually speaking to each other.
Any other problems? In March of this year, Netflix suffered a 12-hour outage that took down its Web site and delayed shipment of DVDs to customers.

Who? Skype, the pioneering aInternet phone call service acquired by eBay in 2005 and used by millions around the world.
When? August 2007.
How long? About two days.
Why? [A] deficiency in an algorithm within Skype networking software.
Upshot? Skype, which blogged about the outage candidly, ultimately said that teeming masses of Skype users restarting their computers at the same time due to a Windows Update patch triggered an unknown bug in the Skye system.
Saving grace? Anyone who thought that Skype could replace a landline got an important reminder that it ain’t necessarily so.
Any other problems? Skype’s not perfect, but this extended outage remains unique to date.

Who? Twitter, the red-hot microblogging service.
When? So frequently in recent months that it’s tough to keep track.
How long? Usually fairly brief, and sometimes only affecting certain features, but maddening for Twitteraddicts–and they all add up. (Wikipedia says the service was down for a total of about three days in 2007.)
Why? Not entirely clear except that the service has trouble keeping up with its millions of users.
Upshot? Twitter users spend a lot of time using Twitter to grouse about Twitter.
Saving grace? The FailWhale, who appears on the page you get when Twitter is sick, has become the first bonafide superstar of error messages since Apple’s Sad Mac.
Any other problems? Did I mention that Twitter outages have been so frequent it’s tough to keep track?

«PREVIOUS PAGE 1 2 


23 Comments


Read more: , , , , , ,

10 Comments For This Post

  1. Jenny Says:

    Its a nice post about online shopping because Online shopping is fast becoming the most preferred mode of shopping whereby shoppers can reap the advantages of Internet shopping from the luxury of their homes.

  2. Michel Says:

    This is a cool post about coupons and there prices.
    Thanks for such an informative post.

  3. Andre Says:

    Nice post. Come to see my blog with internet history.
    http://ahistoriadainternet.blogs.sapo.pt

  4. felisha Says:

    Thanks for providing information and prices of different variety of shopping product. I need this info because i am using online shopping services.
    Thanks

  5. JOhn Says:

    Online shopping is now a easy way of buying anything which they want by using the internet.so people want to know more about this.
    Its a nice post about the same thing.
    Thanks

  6. austin wells Says:

    Thanks for providing information and prices of different variety of shopping product. I need this info because i am using online shopping services.
    Thanks

  7. Elve Says:

    Its a nice post about online shopping because Online shopping is fast becoming the most preferred mode of shopping whereby shoppers can reap the advantages of Internet shopping from the luxury of their homes.

  8. Laura Says:

    wow what a nice post about coupons and retail information.
    Its a very needed information because i need some coupons to buy somethings.
    Thanks

  9. Daniel Says:

    I must say thats quite an article here but I would like to deeply say my thoughts of AOL and some others. First of all The CEO for AOL is a complete lier by saying it was the instalation issue when actualy it falls more on them. During recent years from what I personaly saw was the monthly charge increase every time they came up with a newer version. Sorry to say but AOL also is the ONLY online services that has had more law suits against them than any other site server alone. But thank you again on this story.

  10. Peggy Says:

    Harry, how about the Morris worm of 1988? Granted, the Internet was not yet public at the time, but I remember it as fairly damaging for the bio-tech company for which I worked.

13 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Closing Open Tabs | The Curse of Snackr | BlogSchmog Says:

    [...] A Brief History of Internet Outages—a quick look at some of the most notorious downtime of the modern Web, including AOL, eBay, MobileMe, MSN Messenger, Netcom, Netflix, Skype and – of course – Twitter. [...]

  2. 12 Worst Web glitches of 2008 (so far) | Blogging Says:

    [...] See also: Technologizer: A Brief History of Internet Outages [...]

  3. 10 Worst Web glitches of 2008 (so far) | Blogging Says:

    [...] See also: Technologizer: A Brief History of Internet Outages [...]

  4. Web 2.0 Portals | Web 2.0 Reviews | Video Search Engines | Video Blog | Says:

    [...] See also: Technologizer: A Brief History of Internet Outages [...]

  5. Why Google’s Outage Wasn’t a Complete Failure « Multan POST Says:

    [...] Google outage started like most other service failures: People realized things weren’t working. They realized the problem was limited to [...]

  6. Microsoft to Sidekick Users: We Seem to Have Lost Your Data | Technologizer Says:

    [...] Extended Internet-related service outages are commonplace, but major examples of data loss involving large companies aren’t so common. [...]

  7. Top Five Causes For Disruption Of Internet Service « NetEqualizer News Blog Says:

    [...] http://technologizer.com/2008/08/11/eight-great-internet-outages/ [...]

  8. Facebook’s Megafail Explained - Techland - TIME.com Says:

    [...] an outage, it wasn't as lengthy as Skype's 2007 two-day disappearance. As a bug, it didn't produce results as hilarious as the 2009 screwup that left Google identifying [...]

  9. Tumblr Has Tumbled. When Will It Get Back Up? Says:

    [...] blog with it. As I write this, the outage continues–it’s surely earned a spot in the Hall of Shame reserved for the longest, most crippling downtimes ever suffered by major Internet [...]

  10. The Thirteen Greatest Error Messages of All Time « The Rantings & Ravings Of A (Formerly) Mad Mailman Says:

    [...] Yiying Lu, he (she?) appears when the service is too overloaded to work properly–which has been pretty darn frequently, though the whale has been a little less busy in recent weeks. If you can explain what the image [...]

  11. PSN Down For The Count Says:

    [...] to go dark for a time. Amazon recently experienced a rough week and here’s a list of some historic Internet meltdowns. This too shall [...]

  12. Even Once the PlayStation Network Is Back, This Thing Is Far from Over - Techland - TIME.com Says:

    [...] not a PlayStation Network member, or much of a gamer at all. But I'm kind of fascinated by Internet outages–and the one currently affecting Sony's PlayStation Network and Qriocity service is one for the [...]

  13. PlayStation Hack: Sony’s Troubles Just Beginning | sony Says:

    [...] a PlayStation Network member, or most of a gamer during all. But I’m kind of preoccupied by Internet outages–and a one currently affecting Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity use is one for a [...]