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East Coast storm rocks Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest

June 30, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez | This post has been corrected. See note below
  • A massive thunderstorm in and around Washington, D.C., knocked Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest offline. Above, a screen shot of Netflix's Twitter feed.
A massive thunderstorm in and around Washington, D.C., knocked Netflix,… (Twitter )

A massive thunderstorm near the nation's capital Friday night knocked Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest offline for a few hours.

The three companies suffered major interruptions to their Web services to people everywhere after the huge storm knocked the power from an Amazon data center that the sites rely on. The companies took to social networks to tell their users what was happening.

The problems reportedly lasted six hours. All three services were working by Saturday afternoon.

Amazon said the storm caused its data center to lose power, according to the Associated Press.

"Severe thunderstorms caused us to lose primary and backup generator power to an Availability Zone in our east region overnight,” an Amazon spokeswoman said, according to Wired. “We have restored service to most of our impacted customers and continue to work to restore service for our remaining impacted customers.”

The storm caused power outages in and around the Washington, D.C., area, knocking out electricity for more than 1 million people, and they may not see it restored for several days, according to the Huffington Post. The storm also knocked down trees, caused wind damage and killed at least five people in the area.

That probably was because the storm was a derecho, a widespread storm that lasts a long time and tends to move in a straight line. Derechos can produce the same kind of heavy damage as tornadoes, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

This was the second outage at the same Amazon Region in the last month, which Wired says is not good for the Internet company because Amazon represents its cloud computing platform as a more reliable option than other data centers.

Also, Amazon's services were not supposed to fail completely. Amazon's customers are told that if data centers suffer outages, they will be rolled over to other data centers and continue functioning, but obviously that didn't happen Friday night.

Amazon and Netflix have said they plan to give more detailed explanations later this week.

[For the record, June 30, 5:15 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said this is the second time in a month the affected Amazon data center had an outage. While this was the second time in a month that this Amazon Region has an outage, it is not this specific data center's.]

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