Wed, 05 Oct 2022

Today's Google outage was brief but disconcerting

The Conversation
09 Aug 2022, 16:38 GMT+10

Earlier today, reports began emerging Google was down.

While it has since returned, it once again highlights our dependence on technology service providers and shows how reliant many people are on a single operator for daily functions.

There are few things we completely rely upon in our modern lives, but for many people, Google is one.

Its brief disappearance from the internet felt, for many, like an almost-apocalyptic moment - underscoring how deeply "googling" has been integrated into our lives.

As I wrote when the cloud computing firm Fastly had an outage last year,

Read more: Fastly global internet outage: why did so many sites go down - and what is a CDN, anyway?

What happened?

We don't know yet. Google has so far not commented publicly on the outage.

According to Downdetector there was a significant spike in outage reports for Google earlier today. The news wire Reuters reported:

Downdetector also reported people had experienced problems accessing Google Maps, while The Guardian reported problems with Gmail and Google images, too.

The outage affected a wide range of Google sites, with internet monitoring website ThousandEyes reporting over a thousand servers being impacted.

Despite the scale of the incident, it seems to have only lasted for around 30-40 minutes before services started to return to normal.

Not an isolated occurrence

Google, like all technology providers, is vulnerable to a wide range of potential service failures.

This is not the first Google outage - other outages occurred in 2020 (including a very large one in December reportedly caused by lack of capacity in their authentication systems).

But outages such as these, however brief, do underscore how dependent we have become on "googling" for many aspects of life.

It's not all bad news

Although any outage at Google becomes major news around the world, today's incident was short lived - as were all previous cases.

Google certainly has the capacity and capability to act swiftly to resolve service problems when they do occur.

And, as many people noted, you can still search online even when Google is down - you might just have to use a different search provider, such as Bing or DuckDuckGo.

It would seem that even when an almost unthinkable outage occurs, our capacity to search for cat photos will not be impacted.

Read more: Goodbye Internet Explorer. You won't be missed (but your legacy will be remembered)

Author: Paul Haskell-Dowland - Professor of Cyber Security Practice, Edith Cowan University The Conversation

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