The Year in Downtime: The Top 10 Outages of 2013

The Year in Downtime: The top 10 Data Center Outages of 2013

The Year in Downtime: The top 10 Data Center Outages of 2013

Fires. Floods. Power problems. Software updates gone bad. Thermal events. There was a wide range of causes for data center downtime in 2013. The year’s major outages covered the spectrum, affecting clouds, companies, payment networks and governments at the federal, state and local level.

Each incident caused pain for customers and end users, but also offered the opportunity to learn lessons that will make data centers and applications more reliable. Here’s a look at our list of the Top 10 outages of 2013:

1. The Disaster: Downtime doesn’t get much more epic than this. The federal government’s online insurance marketplace has become the poster child for an IT project gone wrong. It wasn’t just a matter of a single downtime incident, it was a series of hard outages and an ongoing soft outage in which the site was barely functional. They tried adding more hardware, but it wasn’t until the Obama administration’s “IT surge” addressed software and data bottlenecks that the site became usable in early December. Given the status of the Affordable Care Act as the signature legislation, and the accompanying political scrutiny, the web site’s performance amounted to a perfect storm of  the many ways in which key systems can fail. If nothing else, transformed web site performance into front page news.

2. Major Outage for BlueHost, HostGator, HostMonster – The year’s most extensive web hosting downtime occurred Aug. 2, when a  Utah data center supporting some of the industry’s best known brands suffered extended networking outage. The problems at a Provo, Utah facility operated by Endurance International Group led to downtime for customers of BlueHost, HostGator and HostMonster. Endurance attributed the incident to a hardware failure during routine server maintenance that “quickly cascaded throughout the network.”

3. Visa Downtime Across Canada – Downtime is particularly costly in the financial sector, as many Canadians learned Jan. 28 when they were unable to use their Visa cards for much of the day due to a data center power outage at Total System Services Inc. (TSS), one of the largest processors of card-payment transactions in North America. The issue affected Visa cards issued by CIBC, Royal Bank of Canada and TD Canada Trust.

4. Windows Azure, Xbox Live Problems as Xbox One Launches – Xbox One launch day in November turned out to be a rough ride for the Windows Azure cloud computing service, which helps power Xbox Live. The platform was plagued by problems for much of the day, including storage and network issues. It wasn’t the only high-visibility hiccup for Microsoft’s cloud operations. In March a heat spike in a data center caused a major outage for Microsoft’s web-based email services. Both Hotmail and were offline for up to 16 hours after a failed software update caused the heat to spike in one part of a data center supporting those services

5. Power Outage Knocks DreamHost Customers Offline – Web hosting provider DreamHost experienced an extended outage on March 20 when power systems failed at its data center in Irvine, Calif. The incident created hours of downtime across two days for DreamHost’s more than 350,000 customers.

Continue with numbers 6 through 10

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. #1 is a joke, I have never seen so much failure with a project than this!

  2. there's still time for amazon to have a nice Christmas day outage!

  3. would love to see more info on regional outages as well, they burned a lot of companies in the process!

  4. The link for 6-10 is broken - should go to this page:

  5. Homer

    You can double-up on the HostGator outage... they're down today as well as a full day in August.

  6. Brian

    I think you can now move Bluehost to number one. New years eve 2013/14 , what a way to end a year. I will be moving host early 2014.

  7. David

    I think you'll need to add one more for BlueHost (and the other EIG brands), because today, the last day of 2013, their entire hosting complex in Utah has been down for two hours and counting--no ETA of a fix.

  8. Ron

    I'm sure the excuse will once again be "a hardware failure during routine server maintenance" from the incredibly awful Hostmonster/Blue host crowd. If you have access to a shell script, run 'top' next time you're on one of their servers, it's all so maxed out it's ridiculous. I've been migrating sites away from them for a few months now, and unfortunately still had some go down during the mess today. Hopefully you will update the article with these clowns in the number 1 spot.

  9. Thank you for sharing