I got 502 problems, and Cloudflare sure is one: Outage interrupts your El Reg-reading pleasure for almost half an hour

Jul 2, 2019


UPDATED Cloudflare, the outfit noted for the slogan "helping build a better internet", had another wobble today as "network performance issues" rendered websites around the globe inaccessible.

The US tech biz updated its status page at 1352 UTC to indicate that it was aware of issues, but things began tottering quite a bit earlier. Since Cloudflare handles services used by a good portion of the world's websites, such as El Reg, including content delivery, DNS and DDoS protection, when it sneezes, a chunk of the internet has to go and have a bit of a lie down. That means netizens were unable to access many top sites globally.

A stumble last week was attributed to the antics of Verizon by CTO John Graham-Cumming. As for today's shenanigans? We contacted the company, but they've yet to give us an explanation.

While Cloudflare implemented a fix by 1415 UTC and declared things resolved by 1457 UTC, a good portion of internet users noticed things had gone very south for many, many sites.

The company's CEO took to Twitter to proffer an explanation for why things had fallen over, fingering a colossal spike in CPU usage as the cause while gently nudging the more wild conspiracy theories away from the whole DDoS thing.

However, the outage was a salutary reminder of the fragility of the internet as even Firefox fans found their beloved browser unable to resolve URLs.

Ever keen to share in the ups and downs of life, even Cloudflare's site also reported the dread 502 error.

As with the last incident, users who endured the less-than-an-hour of disconnection would do well to remember that the internet is a brittle thing. And Cloudflare would do well to remember that its customers will be pondering if maybe they depend on its services just a little too much.

Updated to add at 1702 BST

Following publication of this article, Cloudflare released a blog post stating the "CPU spike was caused by a bad software deploy that was rolled back. Once rolled back the service returned to normal operation and all domains using Cloudflare returned to normal traffic levels."

Naturally it then added....

"We are incredibly sorry that this incident occurred. Internal teams are meeting as I write performing a full post-mortem to understand how this occurred and how we prevent this from ever occurring again." ®

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