Amazon.com website returns after Thursday afternoon outage

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 8:00am

Amazon.com's homepage is back after a rare outage that left the site inaccessible for about an hour on Thursday afternoon.

Around 2:30 p.m. ET, users began complaining that they weren't able to access Amazon.com's homepage. Some were able to get to other parts of Amazon's site, and the mobile app appeared to be unscathed. Amazon-owned properties like Zappos and IMDB were also unaffected.

Amazon did not reply to a request for comment on the outage.

According to data from Web performance monitoring firm Apica, Amazon's homepage went down at 2:32 p.m. and was back within 50 minutes.

The outage was short, but it's extremely rare for Amazon.com to crash. Amazon depends on heavy e-commerce traffic, especially around the holidays, so it has famously massive server capacity to handle traffic spikes. Even a few minutes of downtime can cost the company millions.

Its powerful "elastic" infrastructure, called EC2, is designed to minimize downtime as much as possible. Amazon has so much spare server capacity, in fact, that it runs a sideline business, Amazon Web Services, hosting other websites. Amazon Web Services remained unaffected by Thursday's outage, according to Amazon's status dashboard.

It was a day of Internet glitches. Twitter also suffered intermittent outages for about three hours on Thursday.

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