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Cloudflare fixes outage that knocked major web services offline

Online services such as Nord VPN, Shopify, and Steam were all inaccessible by users in most regions

DDoS mitigation and content delivery network firm Cloudflare has fixed a fault that resulted in many of the world’s most-used websites becoming inaccessible.

At around 07:30 on Tuesday morning (BST) Cloudflare detected “a critical P0 incident” that disrupted its service across “broad regions”.

People trying to visit Cloudflare-protected websites were met with an Error 500 message in their browser - a generic server response when unexpected conditions are presented that means the server cannot fulfil a request.

The company has been regularly updating its status page with the most recent update confirming that the first fix it implemented was successful and all systems are now operational.

The outage lasted less than two hours and most regions are now fully operational. Some regions have been temporarily re-routed, or partially re-routed in some cases, to regain access to websites.

The affected web services included Discord, Shopify, Steam, and NordVPN but many more were down, including some news outlets.

Cloudflare’s CTO John Graham-Cumming said in an online forum that the outage wasn’t being experienced everywhere across the world, but many regions were affected.

“Yes, not worldwide but a lot of places,” he said, replying to a thread related to the outage. “Problem with our backbone. We know what. Rollbacks etc. happening. Bring it back up in chunks. Should be back up everywhere.”

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UK-based users appear to have been largely unaffected as many of the supposedly affected sites have been accessible by users based in the region during the time of the outage.

Other outlets such as The Verge have reported that users of Cloudflare’s DNS lookup service were among the most affected but resetting to the internet service provider’s default configuration mostly fixed the situation.

Disruptive outages such as these are relatively common given the centralised model of the modern internet.

Most of the world’s websites are proxied by a small number of content delivery network (CDN) providers, according to some experts, with Cloudflare and Fastly among the most popular.

CDN providers offer a service that delivers internet content, such as web pages, more quickly through geographically distributed groups of servers.

When one experiences an outage, it often means that many popular websites are rendered inaccessible given the small number of popular CDN providers in the market.

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