Amazon’s cloud services are experiencing an outage.

Why the Internet Is Being Weird on the East Coast

Why the Internet Is Being Weird on the East Coast

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 28 2017 3:57 PM

Why the Internet Is Being Weird on the East Coast

156326437-picture-shows-an-ipad-with-the-logo-of-amazon-web

Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday afternoon, much of the internet froze on the East Coast when an arm of Amazon Web Services crashed. Just in case you needed a reminder that the internet is both fragile and reliant on large corporations!

The source of the trouble was S3, Amazon’s largest service and one of the most commonly used cloud services to support websites and apps. According to the services health dashboard, S3 was experiencing "availability issues" for its services based out of Northern Virginia.

Advertisement

It appears that Quora, Imgur, Trello, Giphy, Medium, Mailchimp, Slack, Coursera, and Cracked were among the sites and services that crashed or were at least partially down as a result of the error.

As USA Today explained, “modern websites usually pull data from multiple databases in the cloud which can be stored all over the world, so a photo might come from one place, a price list from another and a customer database from a third.” Many of the websites experiencing difficulties did not crash entirely but instead could not load videos, for example.

This is not the first time Amazon Web Services experienced some kind of outage. In 2015, the same Northern Virginia data center experienced a five-hour outage that affected Netflix, Tinder, Airbnb, Reddit and others.

As of 3:55 p.m. Eastern, the service is still experiencing problems, but Amazon Web Services says it is working on it. You can see status updates on its services health dashboard.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Molly Olmstead is a Slate assistant social media editor.