By Harry McCracken | 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?