The Biggest Web Outages of 2011

2011 Worst Website Outages

Updated 1/3/2012: We’ve compiled the 2011 website outages data into an infographic to the right.

Though we witnessed a number of minor website outages and performance declines in 2011, we’re encourage to report that there were fewer significant website outages this year than in 2010. Here are some of the outages that likely had the biggest impact.

Netflix

The most popular online media streaming site experienced a number of short website interruptions this year, which collectively resulted in prolonged service disruption to millions of Netflix subscribers. The first outage occurred on Mar 22. On this day, we tested Netflix’s home page 20 times between 6:22 p.m. ET and 7:59 p.m. ET. Of those samples, only two successfully loaded the home page, revealing that the site was unusable for most users during that time frame.

A second outage lasting several hours occurred on June 19. The site also experienced performance issues on July 20 and Aug. 22.

Reddit, Foursquare, Hootsuite, et al.

On April 21, one of the greatest concerns of cloud patrons was confirmed when Amazon Web Services went down, taking Reddit, Foursquare, Hootsuite, Quora, and a number of other social websites offline with it. The outages began before 5 a.m. ET and continued for several days. Amazon apologized for the incident, offering affected customers a 10-day credit, but the event exemplified the need for cloud customers to do their due diligence and maintain a sense of ownership and responsibility over their uptime.

Target

We talk a lot about retailers preparing their websites for the holiday rush, but as Target learned this fall, website performance testing and monitoring is important for any major promotion, at any time of the year. On Sept. 13, the retailer’s website came crashing down, as an unprecedented number of shoppers hit the site, hoping to score items from the new Missoni for Target line, unveiled that morning. In fact, between 7:47 a.m. ET and 8 a.m. ET, the site was completely down with a timeout error. The trouble continued throughout the day with shoppers later greeted, at least, by a customized error page. The incident led to a firestorm of criticism and disappointment from shoppers.

Bank of America

Bank of America was no stranger to website trouble this year, as the company experienced several website outages that make this year’s list. On Jan. 14, bankofamerica.com was only 41 percent available and delivered response times in excess of 90 seconds.

A month and a half later, the site experienced another brief, though noteworthy, outage. On March 1, Bank of America delivered 83.09 percent availability and response times over 15 seconds to users.

Then, in October, Bank of America’s website experienced one of the most extended periods of performance trouble we’ve witnessed in recent times. It is this outage that ranks as the #1 biggest website outage of 2011. For six consecutive days, the site delivered a series of slowdowns and outages, which the bank attributed to a combination of technical issues and higher than anticipated website traffic. The issues began just one day after BofA announced plans to charge a $5 monthly debit card fee.

How were you affected by these outages? Can you think of any others we should add to the list?