As Internet Traffic Grows, Glitches Galore



Starting this Sunday (September 20, 2009),  Facebook users
(both PC and Mobile) started experiencing site behave erratically with
posts, comments disappearing or not showing immediately. One user
learning about others facing same problems, commented “and I
thought something’s wrong with my profile.”. Another user
said, “I was getting lot of fb errors and was cursing my Tata
Indicom data card.”Even Facebook mobile users were facing
similar problems. One user posted, “Major problem in mobile
FB. The moment you click on someone you are not friends with, it takes
you to your home. This was not the case earlier.” At last,
Facebook confirmed the glitches and but did not reveal what caused it
to happen. Some of the glitches, Facebook officially accepted include
occasional disappearance of content, problem logging in or viewing
profiles, and several error messages while posting content.
Incidentally, Facebook achieved two milestone this week by achieving
300 million user base, apart from becoming cash flow positive. It
appears to be probably case of Facebook not being geared to sudden
spurt in number of users.

There was once a story in 1999 in a leading online technology portal
aptly headlined “Free Email Comes at a Price” It
went on to comment that “Users of free Web-based email are
starting to suspect they’re getting what they paid for.” Year
2009 will go down in the history as the year of glitches for those
frequenting public email, social networking and microblogging sites.
Gmail, Facebook and Twitter all have been subject to several glitches
and outages in the last few months. All talks of 24x7x265 remained on
paper as both Twitter and Facebook as well as Livejournal were
subjected to severe D-DoS attack, which later on, was found to be
targeted at denying access to a certain user in Georgia. Sometime
back  Blackberry users in the US were left stranded without
any Internet connectivity with server problems.

A Google search of “Internet Outage” returned
2,980,000 results—a good indicator of frequency of such
occurrences. But all this goes to show the vulnerability of these sites
against attacks. Not only D-DOS attacks and other attacks which these
sites are regularly subjected to, these sites have also been full
of  glitches putting millions of users wondering if the
problem was confined to their individual accounts.

For Gmail alone,  there was a total of nine outage since July
2008 till September 2009. This is despite Gmail’s official claim of
keeping Gmail available for more than 99.99% percent available. Not
only Gmail but all free email services did have one ore more outages or
glitches since they came into existence and caught the imagination of
the Internet users globally.
 Not only these glitches, other there have been other factors
as well. Submarine cables cuts have also become a regular
phenomenon,  resulting in severe impact on Internet traffic
across the world. Amidst all this it is interesting to note and point
out that India based-Rediffmail has not suffered any reported glitches
since it came into existence.

No wonder, a 2008 study by Pingdom rates some of the popular social
networking websites showing shocking results. In 2008, according to the
study, Twitter alone had 84 hours of downtime (Uptime of 99.04%),
Facebook, MySpace, Classmates.com, Imeemand Xanga  had an
uptime above 99.9 percent. The study mentioned downtime of some of
leading sites–Google’s Orkut (11.2 hours), Last.fm (12.5 hours),
LiveJournal (16.1 hours), Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces (17 hours)
and Hi5 (22.1 hours).

History
of Glitches

January
28, 1997

AOL glitch resulted in users unable to  send or receive e-mail
for two hours

February
3, 1999

Hotmail servers  blinked resulting in inaccessibility for its
mail service

July
14, 2000

AOL glitches allows teens access blocked sites

April
5, 2002

A server problem prevented many users of Microsoft’s Hotmail service
from accessing their accounts for about  three hours

June
18 2004

Several users  were unable to log onto Yahoo’s instant
messaging program. The company released a statement describing the
problem as an “isolated hardware-related issue”.

May
23, 2006

Yahoo and Microsoft e-mail services suffer glitches keping some of
their customers from accessing their e-mail or using certain features.

December
2006

Some users of  Gmail had their email accounts wiped out, with
messages and contact  information being permanently deleted.

March
29, 2007

Yahoo Groups hit by massive duplicate e-mail bug

April
2007

Some beta testers of Microsoft’s updated Windows Live Hotmail found new
storage capacity erratic. The problem resulted in users seeing from
their storage meter that had 4 GB of storage, up from 2 GB before , but
the extra storage was not actually alloted to their accounts

August
18, 2007

A glitch that left millions of Skype users without phone service

February
2009

Gmail shut off for over 2 hours


March
2009

A small number of Gmail users were unable to access their emails

August
2009

Facebook controversially allows applications to access Inbox messages
which was open to abuse

August
6, 2009

D-DOS attack on Twitter and Facebook, apart from Livejournal and other
sites

September
2, 2009

Google confirmed that the majority of Gmail users worldwide were
affected by its crash resulting in 100 minutes outage.

September
11, 2009

Glithes in Google Apps resulted in couple of students notified
Brown’s Computing and Information Services department
(CIS)  resulted in students reading  reading emails
belonging to other students.

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