How it is possible that a large number of websites are sometimes inaccessible all at once

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Sometimes many websites are inaccessible all at once. It happened again on Tuesday, when there was a malfunction at internet company Cloudflare. Websites often don’t have a backup for such cases.

On Tuesday morning, many websites around the world were down for 45 minutes due to a Cloudflare malfunction. The company provides Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) that are used by millions of websites. A CDN ensures that websites reach the user through the correct servers.

It is important for website providers to have a CDN. Not only do networks provide extra capacity to handle lots of visitors, but they also ensure that websites load quickly. Additionally, a CDN offers protection against cyberattacks.

Normally it goes well

There are not many CDN providers in the world. The main providers are Akamai, Fastly and Cloudfare. They have gigantic networks and their maintenance is very expensive. Only games with many customers can exist. This is why it is difficult for new companies to step in.

Many websites are affiliated with a CDN provider. This is enough most of the time, because most of the time the services work perfectly.

“Usually these companies have very robust and fast connections, which the websites can offer users around the world,” Benno Overeinder, director of the NLnet Labs foundation, told NU.nl last year after a major malfunction. . “If website owners with many users had to do it themselves, it would cost them a lot of servers and maintenance.”

Impact of a failure often significant

But the times when things don’t go well have a huge impact globally. As a result, connected websites may suddenly become unavailable or barely accessible.

It happened on Monday too. For about 45 minutes, the Thuisbezorgd, Qmusic, NPO Start and Discord server sites were offline.

Last year also saw major outages at CDN companies Akamai and Fastly, rendering popular websites inaccessible. In both cases there was no attack, but an error during an update.

The solution may be to also connect to another CDN provider as a backup. “If the network goes down on one site, the website is still accessible through the other,” Overeinder said.

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