When a website goes down, engineers scramble to correct the problem while frustrated users hit the Refresh button in vain. Many outages may go relatively unnoticed, but the entire Web may feel the impact when the largest sites go down.
During some of the biggest outages of 2010, we braved extended face time with the Fail Whale, twiddled our thumbs when Facebook shut us out, and pulled out our hair while retailers struggled to manage traffic on major shopping days.
AlertSite, a Web performance analysis company, has created a list of the outages that affected the most users this year. The list of worst offenders is below.
On September 22 and 23, Facebook suffered what it would later call the site's worst outage in four years. Mashable attributed the problem to a third-party networking provider. AlertSite reports that availability hovered around 76.19 percent on the first day and plummeted to 38.46 percent the next day. The "like" button vanished from hundreds of sites during that time, turning Facebook's major outage into a Web-wide problem.
This year, the blogging platform soared in popularity. Tumblr's page views increased by 1,540 percent from October 2009 through 2010, AlertSite calculates. But the site also suffered a major setback on December 5, when maintenance issues downed Tumblr for nearly 24 hours.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals drove record-setting traffic to online retailers this November. Some sites, however, were ill-equipped to handle the influx. According to AlertSite, JCPenney suffered response times of up to 90 seconds for much of the Black Friday crush. But it didn't stop there. Shoppers also experienced similarly long response times on Cyber Monday and throughout the rest of the week.
Groupon has become a behemoth, but it can still crash like any other site. And crash it did in August, during its first nationwide offer. At 6 a.m. Eastern Time, site began offering a generous Gap discount coupon in cities across the United States. By 4 p.m., the coupon was selling at a rate of ten per second. During that time, the site performed sporadically according to AlertSite, but it weathered the deluge of visitors and managed to rake in a reported $11 million from the Gap deal.
The microblogging website was rocked by world news events this year. The site's first major outage occurred on the heels of the January earthquake in Haiti. During the summer's World Cup games, Twitter suffered repeated outages when user activity spiked to unprecedented levels. In a blog post, the Twitter team called June 2010 the site's "worst month" in terms of "stability and service."
MasterCard and Visa
A group of hacker-activists collectively calling themselves "Anonymous" attacked the MasterCard and Visa websites, both of which had recently severed ties with the whistleblower site Wikileaks. Coordinating via Twitter, Anonymous launched a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack that overwhelmed the companies' sites for a time but apparently did not affect transactions that took place offline.
Which of these outages affected you the most? Were there any that you feel should have made the list? Let us know in the comments.