Biggest Outages in internet History

Network connectivity has become one of the basic necessities of a common man. Just as we need food and water to survive, we also need the internet just to get through our daily lives and playing our favorite video games. From academic institutes to billion-dollar companies, everyone relies on stable internet connection.


Losing the connectivity just for a brief moment starts to stir things up and people get restless without it, that’s just how reliant we’ve become on the internet. And while internet providers do their best to prevent outages like that from taking place in the first place, sometimes these incidents just become unavoidable.


What are the Most Common Causes of Internet Outages?

Although, Internet outages can occur due to a variety of reasons from tech failure to natural disasters and even shark attacks. The most common causes are human errors, cyber-attacks, and power supply failures. Amongst these, the most common cause happens to be power supply failures with up to 25% chances.


America Online Internet Outage

One of the worst internet outages took place back in the 90s when America Online (AOL), the world’s leading online computer service, went completely down for almost a full day. The outage was responsible for leaving over 6 million people without any connection to the outside world.


The reason behind the outage was found to be the installation of high-capacity switches. Although it wasn’t the first or even the last, it sure was the longest internet outage that affected millions for over 19 hours, cutting them off from their favorite news sites, emails, and entertainment channels.


Armenia Loses Connection

Armenia might not be the biggest country in the world but it sure incurred one of the biggest internet outages of all time. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen to a couple of cities or towns but the whole country became subject to an internet outage and for a very bizarre reason. It wasn’t because of some mysterious cyber attack or even a natural disaster but it happened because someone damaged the land cables while digging for scrap materials.


The damaged cables left the whole country without internet connections and of course, people were furious as it had some grave consequences for many businesses that relied on stable internet connections. The whole outage was result of an accident, which goes on to show that anything’s possible.


eBay Blacks Out for 1 Day

eBay is one of the most popular online auction stores and has been for a very long time since the early 90s. However, it became the subject of one of the worst outages in the history of the internet. The auction service was out for more than 24 hours, resulting in the loss of around 5 million dollars.


The reason for the outage was given to be issues with the software that listed and updated items for bidding on the site. The site had to repay the losses of the vendors whose auctions were affected. The incident happened back in 1999 and it still remains one of the worst days for eBay to this day.



Amazon Web Services

We talk about how massive some of these companies have grown, names like Google, Facebook, and Whatsapp have become a fundamental part of our daily lives but only incidents like this really show how dependent we actually are. Back in 2017, Amazon Web Services faced one of the worst outages due to excessive error rates that led to congestion of the service.


The outage impacted some of the big companies including Business Insider, Quora, and many others. Amazon suffered significant losses from the outage as well as many other businesses that depended on AWS including many applications and devices.


British Airways

United Kingdom’s British Airways is one of the busiest airports in the world and that became pretty clear back in 2017 when the whole fleet of airplanes had to stay grounded due to an IT failure. It wasn’t a couple of hours' delay that makes us furious but the situation was very serious.


But what’s interesting about this failure is the reasons behind it. The whole situation was a result of a very small mistake, apparently one of the employees mistakenly switched off an “Uninterrupted Power Supply” unit at a big data center. It’s hard to believe the impact of this small mistake that caused a HUGE stir.


The company incurred significant losses due to the mistake and all the flights had to be postponed they also had to reimburse the travelers. The incident still remains in history as one of the worst outages for any airline in the world.

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