Top 5 Cloud Computing Crashes of the Year

Mike O'Brien

Just when you think that the giant internet companies are taking over the world, a major online outage comes along and you realize they’re almost as vulnerable as any other business.

Cloud computing may be the way forward, but web-based services can crash like any other technology.

Here we present the top five crashes of the year so far, as originally identified by technology website


When: January 28

How Long: Nearly three hours

For many people, going for nearly three hours without a status update was heartbreaking.

The world’s No. 1 social networking site suffered a DNS issue that "prevented people who typed '' into their browsers from reaching the site."

Ironically, the hacker group Anonymous had threatened to take Facebook down on that very day but there were no signs that Anonymous had any involvement with the outage.


When: March 18-19

How Long: 17 hours (on and off)

It began with a serious slowing down, and even timeouts, for users trying to access their documents. That lasted for three hours, but the following day users could not get to their documents in a second outage that lasted for two hours.

Two days later, Drive went down for a full12 hours. Google said the original probloem was related to a glitch in the company's network control software. The system failed to load-balance, which led to an issue with Drive's connection-management system.


When: February 1-2 and then February 22

How Long: Four hours the first time, 12 hours the second

The Office 365 editing suite and mail service both started playing up on the first day of the month, and then the search engine Bing fell victim to a two-hour outage. The company said that "routine maintenance" that went wrong was at the heart of the issue.

Later in the month the company's Windows Azure cloud storage service went down, with all attempts at secure access timing out as unavailable. Then Xbox Live, Xbox Music, and Xbox Video started malfunctioning, with cloud-connected data unable to be accessed. Microsoft revealed an expired SSL certificate was the cause of the crash.


When: January 31

How Long: 49 minutes

Amazon’s home page crashed and visitors were treated to a simple text error message for almost an hour. The Internet buzzed with rumors that the retail giant had suffered a denial-of-service attack, but while Amazon never officially commented on the outage, later reports indicated an internal issue was more likely the culprit.

Some industry observers believe the company may have lost $5 milion in missed revenue in that short space of time.


When: January 10, May 30

How Long: 16 hours the first time, 90 minutes the second

Users who relied on Dropbox for their file storage needs were left fuming when their drives disappeared for a day and vented their anger on social media. The idea behind a service like Dropbox is that you can rely on it as if it were your own local hard drive. The company originally tweeted that the problem would be fixed in an hour. It lasted 16 hours.

For a second time in five months, users had no way to access their files or upload any new material for an hour and a half at the end of May. Dropbox still hasn’t officially made any announcements about the second crash.

Computer system efficiency will be discussed at IDGA’s Legacy Modernization for Government event next month. For details, go to