(CNN) — Countless websites and apps around the world went down for about an hour Tuesday after Fastly, a major content delivery network, reported a widespread failure.
Fastly supports news sites and apps like CNN, the Guardian, the New York Times and many others. It also provides content delivery for Twitch, Pinterest, HBO Max, Hulu, Reddit, Spotify and other services.
Other major internet platforms and sites including Amazon, Target, and the UK government website — Gov.uk — were affected.
The problem was caused by an outage at Fastly, a cloud service provider. The company said on its service status website (which was working) Tuesday morning it had identified the problem and fixed the issue. Service for sites and apps started to be restored a little after 7 a.m. ET, although Fastly said some customers may experience longer load times as a residual effect of the outage.
The outage affected dozens of countries across the Americas, Europe and Asia, as well as South Africa. Fastly said it had identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions across its servers around the world. The company has disabled that configuration.
Fastly helps improve load times for websites and provides other services to internet sites, apps and platforms — including a large global server network designed to smooth out traffic overloads that can bring down websites, such as a denial-of-service attack. But because Fastly provides a layer of support between internet companies and customers trying to access news sites, social media and other online platforms, when it goes down, access to those services can be blocked entirely.
Companies that operate on the internet can switch content delivery networks — and some appeared able to bypass Fastly’s outage Tuesday morning. But that’s not always an easy or quick proposition.
Major website and app outages happen from time to time and typically don’t last long — internet service providers, content delivery networks and other hosting services are built with multiple redundancies and a global network of backup servers designed to reduce disruptions when things go haywire.
In August 2020, CenturyLink, an internet service provider that is supposed to keep websites up and running, was down itself for the better part of a day. That meant Cloudflare, Hulu, the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Feedly, Discord, and dozens of other services reported connectivity problems. When Cloudflare — a content delivery network like Fastly — went down, it took dozens of website and online services along with it.
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