Amazon outage breaks large parts of the internet

The failure even broke Amazon's ability to report the problem.

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If your favorite website or internet service isn't accessible today, it's probably not just you. Amazon Web Services' S3 cloud storage is experiencing "high error rates" that have caused chaos among many of the sites that depend on AWS to work. Our own website is one of them, but the failure has also affected some or all of Giphy, Medium, Slack, Quora and a slew of other websites and apps you likely use. Some connected home devices aren't working correctly, either. Even Amazon's ability to report problems was broken for a while -- the AWS dashboard wasn't changing color because its issue was "related" to S3's problems.

Amazon hasn't explained exactly what went wrong or offered an estimated time of repair, although its status page has narrowed the outage down to a North Virginia location. We've asked Amazon for more info and will let you know if it can share additional details.

No matter what's at fault or how long the outage goes on, the incident underscores a mounting problem: an increasing dependence on a handful of services to power large swaths of the internet. AWS and its rivals make cloud features viable for companies that can't always afford to run their own servers, but they also increase the chances that a failure will affect many people. Unless the tech industry can find a way to diversify its online data sources, these internet-wide crises aren't going away any time soon.