An internet outage can have major consequences for a digital business, especially when it happens during peak usage times and on holidays. Outages can lead to revenue loss, complaints, and customer churn.
Of course, internet outages regularly impact companies across all verticals, including some of the largest internet companies in the world. And they can happen when you least expect them.
Read on to learn about some of the most impactful internet outages to date and some steps you can take to keep your business out of harm’s way.
Historical Internet Outages You Need to Know About
1. Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS) experienced a major outage in December 2021, lasting for several hours. The outage impacted operations for many leading businesses, including Netflix, Disney, Spotify, DoorDash, and Venmo.
Amazon blames the outage on an automation error causing multiple systems to act abnormally. The outage also prevented users from accessing some cloud services.
This outage proved the largest and safest cloud providers are also susceptible to downtime.
Facebook as well suffered a major outage in 2021, leaving billions of users unable to access its services, including its main social network, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
According to Facebook, the cause of the outage was a configuration change on its backbone routers responsible for transmitting traffic across its data centers. The outage lasted roughly six hours, an eternity for a social network.
Cloud service provider Fastly had its network go down in June 2021, taking down several sizeable global news websites, including the New York Times and CNN. It also impacted retailers like Target and Amazon, and several other organizations.
The outage resulted from a faulty software update, stemming from a misconfiguration, causing disruptions across multiple servers.
4. British Airways
British Airways experienced a massive IT failure in 2017 during one of the busiest travel weekends in the United Kingdom.
This event created a nightmare scenario for the organization and its customers. Altogether, it grounded 672 flights and stranded tens of thousands of customers.
According to the company, the outage ensued when an engineer disconnected the data center’s power supply. A massive power surge came next, bringing the business’s network down in the process.
Google had a major service outage in 2020. It only lasted about forty-five minutes, but it still impacted users worldwide.
Services including Gmail, YouTube, and Google Calendar all crashed. So did Google Home apps. The outage also impacted third-party applications using Google for authentication.
The issue happened due to inadequate storage capacity for the company’s authentication services.
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in history occurred in 2016 against Dyn, which was a major backbone provider.
The attack occurred in three waves, overwhelming the company’s servers. As a result, many internet users were unable to access partnering platforms like Twitter, Spotify, and Netflix.
7. Verizon Fios
Verizon had a major internet outage in January 2021, which disrupted tens of thousands of customers along the East Coast.
While the internet outage lasted only about an hour, Verizon experienced a sharp drop in traffic volume. Naturally, many customers complained about the loss of service.
At first, the company reported the incident was the result of someone cutting fiber cables. However, it was unrelated and turned out to be a “software issue” during routine network maintenance activities.
Another major internet outage occurred at Microsoft when its Azure service went under in December 2021. Azure’s Active Directory service crashed for about ninety minutes.
Compared to some other outages, this one was relatively small. Nonetheless, it prevented users from signing in to Microsoft services such as Office 365. Although applications remained online, users couldn’t access them, making this a major productivity killer for many organizations worldwide.
There was an internet outage at Comcast in November 2021, which happened when its San Francisco backbone shut down for about two hours.
Following the outage, a broader issue occurred, spanning multiple U.S. cities, including hubs like Philadelphia and Chicago. Several thousand customers lost service, leaving them unable to access basic network functionality during the height of the pandemic.
10. Akamai Edge DNS
Akamai, a global content delivery provider, experienced an outage with its DNS service in 2021. The Akamai outage resulted from a faulty software configuration update activating a bug in its Secure Edge Content Delivery Network.
In a similar fashion to other attacks against service providers, Akamai’s outage caused widespread damage. Other websites—including American Airlines, Fox News, and Steam—all experienced performance issues following the incident.
11. Cox Communications
Cox Communications reported a major internet outage in March 2022, impacting nearly seven thousand customers in the Las Vegas region.
The problem resulted from an NV Energy backhoe damaging a transmission line and triggering a power event. The surge caused a cable modem to reset, and many customers tried to reconnect simultaneously. As a result, it took several hours for service to resume.
The recent Slack outage in January 2021 created havoc for distributed workers who rely on the platform for communication and collaboration.
The platform’s outage impacted organizations across the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and India, with interruptions occurring for about two and a half hours. Slack says the issue came from scaling problems on the AWS Transit Gateway, which couldn’t accommodate a spike in traffic.
Best Practices for Avoiding Internet Outages
At the end of the day, there’s nothing you can do to prevent outages entirely, especially if your business relies on multiple third-party systems. Eventually, your company or a partner will experience some level of service disruption. It’s best to plan for them and, where possible, enable systems to ‘fail gracefully.’
As part of your resiliency planning, here are some steps to mitigate damage, maximize uptime, and keep your organization safe, along with some best practices to help you avoid disruptions from network and connectivity issues.
Set Up a Backup Internet Solution
It’s impossible to protect your business from local internet outages completely. They can stem from issues like local construction, service disruptions, and more.
Consider setting up a backup internet solution as a workaround, so you never lose connectivity. For example, you may choose to combine broadband with a wireless failover solution.
Consider a Multi-Cloud Strategy
If your business is in the cloud, it’s a good idea to explore a multi-cloud strategy. By spreading your workloads across multiple cloud providers, you can prevent cloud service disruptions from knocking your digital applications offline. This approach can also improve uptime and resiliency.
Use Website Performance and Availability Monitoring
One of the best ways to protect your business is to use website performance and availability monitoring. It provides real-time visibility into how end users are interacting with and experiencing your website.
A robust website performance and availability monitoring solution can provide actionable insights into the health and stability of your website. As a result, you can track uptime and performance over time and troubleshoot issues when they occur.
The Pingdom Approach to Website Performance Monitoring
SolarWinds® Pingdom® provides real-time and historical end-user experience monitoring, giving your team deep visibility from a single pane of glass. With Pingdom, it’s possible to protect against the kind of outages helping your company make headlines for the wrong reasons.
When you’re ready to jump in, try Pingdom by requesting a free trial today.
This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.