A number of websites went down tonight. Photo / 123RF
A huge swathe of national and international news sites crashed on Tuesday night including the New York Times, CNN and the BBC.
Many sites were offline for up to an hour after an issue affecting their cloud platform technology.
In New Zealand, TVNZ OnDemand, RNZ and Trade Me were all down, although Radio NZ reported it was back up and running at 10.27pm, after crashing at 9.46pm. At 11.15pm, Trade Me reported it was back up.
The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age were also affected.
Amazon, Reddit and Twitter also crashed for a time while The Verge, Financial Times and Bloomberg were experiencing outages.
US cloud computing services provider Fastly confirmed it was experiencing a technical issue.
In an update at 9.58pm NZT, the firm said that it was investigating the issue. It provided several updates in the following 40 minutes, saying it was continuing to investigate.
At 10.44pm NZT, it reported: “The issue has been identified and a fix is being implemented.” It did not elaborate on what had caused the major outage.
Fastly operates a CDN – a content delivery network that caches data in localised regional servers, allowing websites to serve content faster.
“Only a handful of CDNs are capable of managing the traffic requirements of big sites, which means a lot of responsibility lies at the hands of very few centralised server networks,” reported the 9to5Mac technical website.
Radio NZ reported most users were receiving ‘Error 503’ messages when attempting to access its site. RNZ’s homepage went offline at approximately 9.46pm. Access was restored at 10.27pm.
The ‘503 Service Unavailable’ message refers to an error response code indicating that the server is not ready to handle the request.
Common causes are a server that is down for maintenance or that is overloaded.