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July 06, 2007

Yahoo Down

Yahoo is down, or at least has been for a decent part of the earlier day. The yahoo website simply wasn't working and the status of other yahoo services like yahoo mail was problematic.

One thought is as follows:

The even more ironic thing in this story is that the .co.uk site is still up and running but there seems to be no place to report such issues, so there is the possibility that they haven't even noticed or been informed.

I wonder how long it will be until MS and Google pick up on the issue... and what about the Register....

I know that earlier today the HotLan-A Trojan hit Yahoo and Hotmail email accounts so maybe they have had the main servers pulled down whilst they sort the issue out... All that being said... surely they have some sort of solid disaster recovery plan!  Interestingly the MS Hotmail site is still up and running.

Another is as follows:

A couple of readers alerted us that http://www.yahoo.com appears to be down. At this point, we have no idea why or if this is at all security related. But it does indeed look like Yahoo! is down.

Looks like Yahoo! is fine again. We had some suggestions that this may be related to routing issues within the Verizon network. But no details or confirmations at this point. Other Yahoo services like Yahoo IM were affected as well.

Now, OK, so far this is entirely trivial. Even Google falls over occasionally, as do ATM systems and the credit card servers.

However, let's just think a little about what happens when we all have to show an ID card to be able to do anything. Don't forget, we're not now talking about a system like they have on the Continent, where someone eyeballs your card (is that what's known as a meatspace computer?) and then gets on with whatever. We're talking about a system whereby the card, in the reader, must communicate with the central system, check things on the card against  the central database (digital photo, for example) and then give the all clear to proceed.

Now if Yahoo and Google, the credit card companies, can and do all fall over, then so can that system. So airports, when we use the cards to travel (as we will) will all fill up with people who cannot get into the country...but worse, far worse, is that the card is to be used to check your right to access the NHS.

Good luck as a heart attack victim when the system's down.

Oh, and, hands up everyone who thinks that a State run system will have less downtime than one eager for every second online as profits are at stake?

(As an example, many years ago the Paterfamilias went to see a friend working in the credit card clearing centre. 7 levels of redundancy. The Trident computer systems, upon which P. worked, had three.)

July 6, 2007 | Permalink


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I'm fairly sure that - just as US hospitals provide emergency care even when the patient's insurance status is not known - the contingency plan would be to proceed with treatment anyway if the computer went wrong.

Posted by: john b | Jul 6, 2007 5:36:10 PM

That's a very salient question, Tim. It's virtually impossible to provide 100% availability of a distributed IT resource. Something as simple as a workman digging up a cable with a JCB can take a very large area offline for hours.

Posted by: David Gillies | Jul 6, 2007 5:45:53 PM

I didn't have any probs today. But yesterday I had problems with my yahoo mails.

Posted by: sven | Jul 6, 2007 6:46:22 PM

..So airports, when we use the cards to travel..

Some may question the connection but I feel the logic is impeccable on this one.

Posted by: jameshigham | Jul 6, 2007 6:51:10 PM

Flickr - part of the Yahoo empire - has also been slow to non-responsive all day.

Posted by: bookdrunk | Jul 6, 2007 7:15:25 PM

I remember the Age of Dialup when Yahoo! was almost the number one big boy of search engines.. it even had a proto-MySpace in the form of Geocities, which was very creatively organised into streets and towns.. Anyway, back to the point: Yahoo! has traditionally been unreliable and erratic. Its webmail service even today is frequently down. I had a Yahoo! webmail account for about 4 years (closed it last year) and it was down for a couple of days nearly every month, it seemed. It was always a case of checking the Yahoo! blogs for news.

Posted by: Opinionated | Jul 6, 2007 7:27:36 PM

Abandon the 999/911 numbers because the phone system sometimes fails. Abandon air travel because planes sometimes crash. Let's all go back to banging rocks together.

The Yahoo failure may be an argument against many things but it ain't an argument against the ID card.

Posted by: windowlicker | Jul 6, 2007 9:57:47 PM