Many of the world’s largest websites went down this morning, with the cause apparently down to a problem with edge cloud platform Fastly.
Amazon, Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, PayPal, Etsy, eBay, Twitch and major news websites like CNN, The New York Times and The Guardian are among those that crashed.
DownDetector also reported outages for Pinterest, Shopify, Vimeo, GitHub, the Government website, Squarespace, Imgur, Tidal, Weightwatchers and Kickstarter.
Users saw 503 “service unavailable” errors when trying to visit these pages, or were presented with largely blank screens.
Fastly posted an update to its website at 9.58am, saying it was investigating “potential impact to performance with our CDN services”. Websites which use the service started to return shortly before noon.
The early indication is that this is an outage, rather than an attack.
What is Fastly?
Fastly is a CDN, which is a content delivery network: a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and their data centres designed to enhance the performance of the internet.
In short, a CDN caches some data from websites as close to the end user as possible – improving performance for the reader and limiting the toll on the website’s server.
Many of the world’s biggest website run on Fastly’s network, hence the mass outages.
Why are so many websites affected?
Most modern websites use a CDN layer, of which there are a variety, including Cloudflare and Akamai.
Any website which uses Fastly was affected, as the issue is with the service which is integrated into many news sites and other platforms across the web, rather than being a problem with any specific site.
Why are some websites fine?
The issue is specifically with Fastly and not with the internet as a whole, so any website that does not use Fastly was unaffected by the CDN outage.
While gov.uk, the UK Government’s homepage used for a variety of civic functions, appeared to be down, the NHS vaccine-booking site, which opened to 25- to 29-year-olds today, is still accessible at time of writing.
When will the outage be over?
The issue was identified by Fastly before noon and, soon afterwards, the websites which use the company’s services began to reappear as normal – so the problem appears to be fixed for now.