The Great Google Depression of 2009 Happened Thursday, May 14, at 7:48am PST

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A Last Word

gd20History book editors are already changing the text for this year’s top news stories.  Obama getting elected?  Chrysler going into bankruptcy?  Brittney Spears on tour?  Pbbbt Those topics aren’t news.

Google dropping off the Internet for two hours and taking 5% of total Internet traffic with them?  HEADLINES!

While the exact time of the Great Google Outage is unclear (Google says 7:48am PST, others say 7:15 or 7:20), the fact that many U.S. and Asian users suddenly lost access to all Google services for a couple of hours nearly took Twitter and Facebook with it.

The two sites were a flurry of “Is Google down?” “Google is down?!” and the like.  Then speculation about what was the cause started burning up keyboards and the already-fragile Twitter network.  “Definitely a DDoS attack” and “Semantec says there’s a worm.”

What was the reality?

Someone at Google (who’s probably now polishing his or her resume) goofed and sent most of Google’s U.S. traffic through Asia.  This caused a virtual traffic jam, slowing and shutting down many services with the funneled overload.

Yep, that’s it.  During routine maintenance on a server group, somebody re-directed traffic in the wrong direction and Google fell to its knees.

This graph from Arbor Networks shows the down time.  See that big post-hole?  That’s Google falling off the Internet for a while.  Many of us found ourselves in that deep valley trying to figure out how we were going to get back out. “You mean there’s other search engines?  Since when?

That’s why this was the Great Google Depression of 2009.  It will be remembered forever.


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