Amazon Issue Knocks Netflix, Instagram Offline

Dennis Faas's picture

Several high-profile online services, including Netflix, have been temporarily unavailable due to a problem at Amazon. It's another demonstration of the risks involved in having so many sites dependent on a single service provider.

The problem took place on Sunday, August 25, and affected movie site Netflix and photo service site Instagram. Other affected sites included video sharing site Vine and vacation rental service Airbnb.

These sites were either intermittently unresponsive or completely inaccessible. (Source:

The problem: Amazon's cloud services system was experiencing technical difficulties. Because sites like Netflix and Instagram depend on these cloud services to run, users were unable to access these sites.

Amazon Cloud Services: No Fixed Rate

Amazon's cloud services are popular because the firm doesn't force sites to pay a fixed price.

Instead, they can opt to pay for only the processing they use. That's an attractive option for sites that find it hard to predict how much use they'll get at any particular time and don't want to risk paying in advance for capacity they might not need.

The problems have been traced to an Amazon data center in Virginia. Amazon hasn't given many details, but it appears to have been a hardware issue. (Source:

Tech experts have noted that, ideally, a single hardware device failing wouldn't cause such problems. Instead, they insist there should be 'redundancies' in place to make sure sites are accessible should a hardware problem occur. 

Sites' Dependence on Google, Amazon a Problem

It's the second time in just two weeks that one firm's outage has resulted in many other sites being inaccessible to web users.

Recently a very short (11 minute) Google outage resulted in an average traffic drop of 40 per cent for GoSquared sites because people weren't finding them through Google searches.

Given that so many sites depend on Google and Amazon services, it may be time for these firms to implement strategies designed to prevent such catastrophic outages.

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