What Can You Do When An Internet Outage Occurs?
There’s been an internet outage. It feels as though you have fallen upon dark times, taken back to the prehistoric age.
Imagine this scenario. You’re sitting in your house or office, surfing the web on your phone. Your laptop is streaming Netflix and your tablet is streaming funny YouTube videos. You’re having a nice, relaxing time, when all of sudden, it all stops. Your movie stops playing. Google won’t load. Your cat videos are paused right before the funny part.
You don’t know the first thing about troubleshooting. So, you call your internet service provider who explains that the internet outage is a major one. This outage is not just effecting not you, but a wider area and a whole bunch of people.
So, what does one do when this type of internet outage occurs? Pick up a book? Go outside and admire the sun? Smell some flowers? Twiddle their thumbs?
Or maybe these options;
In this new age of technology, we are all wired up and plugged in. The slightest disruption to internet service causes us to lose track of the world around us. And with more and more people plugged in than ever, internet outages seem to become more common.
What Are Some Causes Of Major Internet Outages?
Some of the worst internet outages in the San Francisco Bay Area, have occurred when vandals deliberately cut fiber optic cables. As of July 1st 2015, fiber optic cables have been cut 11 times in the area. This caused the FBI to join the ongoing investigation.
As the perpetrators are yet to be found, their motivations are unknown. What is known, is that this internet outage caused massive issues to homes, businesses and internet service providers alike. Though this is just one example of many (natural disasters, etc). Internet outages can be caused by a variety of issues.
What Causes Internet Outages?
The top 5 causes of internet outages are;
- Network Congestion: The most common issue. Network congestion is caused when there are too many people trying to access a network at one time, in a certain area. During this time, your circuit quality may gridlock or deteriorate. It is the easiest type of internet outage to solve while also being the most preventable. Outages caused by congestion are more common in college dorms, public libraries, and wireless networks.
- A failed link to your service provider: This occurs when the link between your device and the server is interrupted and cannot connect. Often times failed links to your service provider can be caused by storms, downed wires, or even animals.
- Speed fluctuation from Internet provider: This can be caused by congestion, but sometimes the lines from your provider are not as optimized as they should be. You may be paying for a specified rate, but receiving a slower rate of service, which can easily cause service interruptions.
- Equipment failure: Not properly grounding your equipment and protecting it from surges can leave your equipment susceptible to frying, damaging the circuit. Furthermore, lockups and overloads can also cause equipment failure. This technical issue can be resolved quickly with updated and well configured hardware.
- Operation error: Whether it’s incorrect IP addresses, improper wiring, or an incorrectly configured firewall, operation errors can occur when an internet connection is not installed properly.
As you can see, there are many reasons for connectivity failure and internet outages. With these problems also come a myriad of solutions.
Troubleshooting Internet Outage & Connection Issues
First of all, you can rule out many connectivity issues by plugging your computer directly into one of the ports used by your Ethernet cables (look for and find your router). Then you can proceed with the following troubleshooting options.
- The first solution to fixing your internet outage or connectivity issue (after making sure you’ve paid your bill) is to check your modem. You can solve most issues by rebooting your modem. Try unplugging it, waiting thirty seconds, plug it back in, and wait two minutes before trying to re-open any websites. This tends to solve most problems, but not all. If this works, you can identify the problem as an issue with one of your home network components.
- If that doesn’t seem to work, your second option is to refresh your computer’s Internet signal. This is your IP (Internet Protocol) address. It’s usually a different address each time your computer connects to the Internet. This type of reboot can change depending on the type of system you may have, Mac or Windows. If you happen to look on your modem and the light is flashing, you can guarantee that the issue is in regards to your cable company and your home setup.
- When all else fails, pick up the phone, call your technician, wait for updates.
There’s also some useful websites which provide real-time details on downtime or outage status, for a range of ISPs across the USA. For example, you can see if there is a Spectrum internet outage in your local area on the Spectrum internet outage page on the outage.report site.
- Live updates on reports of down time,
- A self-report function
- An outage map / location list.
- Contact details for Spectrum to report internet outages
If you want to monitor your connection closely and get alerts if there are any issues, there’s help to diagnose problems with a range of tools. These will tell you when your internet connection is down. As a B2B provider, we use Nagios to monitor our entire IT infrastructure and customer circuits.
How Often Do Internet Outages Occur?
Internet outages aren’t uncommon. Depending on your network, various service providers experience rolling outs intermittently. Sometimes these black outs are scheduled, to provide downtime and updates. Other times they are unexpected.
Internet Outages Are Not Just An Issue For Home Internet Users
Internet outages and ‘black outs’ don’t just effect home users. They can happen on a much wider scale, causing issues across a state or the country.
For example, in 2007 a San Francisco data center lost power, thus taking down big named websites like Craigslist, LiveJournal, Yelp, Adbrite and many more. What was deemed to be one of the most reliable servers in the United States, simply stopped working. What made things worse was that the back up power generators also failed.
Though power was only out for about 45 minutes (a lifetime in this day and age), websites were not fully visible and functional until hours later. Hundreds of thousands of visitors simply expecting the sites to work were left with error messages. This resulted in huge losses of business and revenue.
Internet Outages Can Happen To Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere
Whether you’re a large-scale data center or a small home user, you’re not immune to Internet outages. These first world problems occur for a variety of issues. For every internet outage issue, there is always a solution.
One of the best ways a business can safeguard against an internet outage is to sign up for dedicated internet access service. Today, there are also a good range of fail-over or backup internet service connections. Often wireless, these redundant services ‘kick in’ if your main internet line or connectivity goes down, for whatever reason.
The next time you find yourself battling an Internet outage, try solving it yourself. If that fails, call your support technician. If they are unable to resolve the problem, they should be able to provide more information as to what has caused the issue, offer regular updates and hopefully an ETA for a return of service.
But in the meantime, go out and enjoy some fresh air!