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February 19, 2020updated 20 Feb 2020 10:04am

Reddit down: Outage hits “front page of the internet”

By Lucy Ingham

Reddit, the social news aggregation and discussion site, was today reported as down by many users across the world.

Down Detector reported outages from 12:07pm GMT, with more than 1,500 users in many parts of the world reporting issues within the first few minutes, including the UK, Germany, Malaysia, India and the eastern United States.

The problem affected the Reddit website, with many users seeing the message “Our CDN was unable to reach our servers”, while there were also similar issues with the Reddit app.

Reddit identified the source of the problem around an hour after it was first reported, and applied a fix that appears to have resolved the issue.

At 1:24pm GMT, Reddit said: “A fix has been implemented and we are monitoring the results”. By 1:42pm GMT, it had updated the status to “All Systems Operational”.

When the issue first happened, users took to Twitter to complain:

However, those desperate to get their meme fix could still access the site’s old design, at old.reddit.com.

Reddit tackles down status

Reddit Status, Reddit’s own service to provide reports on site outages, initially showed Reddit as having a “partial outage”.

Acknowledging that Reddit was not working for many users, the organisation initially displayed the message “We’re experiencing a high volume of errors when accessing reddit.com. We’re currently investigating”.

The same was also tweeted from its official account:

At 12:59pm GMT Reddit Status upgraded the issue to “Errors accessing our site” and added: “We are continuing to investigate this issue”.

Then at 1:11pm GMT it said: “The issue has been identified and a fix is being implemented”.

What is a CDN and why did it break Reddit?

The outages appear to be due to an issue with how Reddit’s content delivery network (CDN) was functioning.

A CDN is essentially a collection of distributed servers, which deliver webpages to users as they request them.

For large sites such as Reddit, these are located all across the world, so that load times can be kept to a minimum for all users, no matter where they are.

This will also typically see content that is most likely to be viewed by users in each region prioritised alongside key content for all users.

Based on Reddit’s own message, it seems that either the system that communicates with the servers, or some of the servers themselves, were down, causing the site to fail to load, and the error message to display instead.

Known as “the front page of the internet”, in part for its role in proliferating memes and igniting online discussion on current events, Reddit has over 330 million users as of 2018.

Reddit last stopped working for users in November 2019. The brief outage mostly affected users in the US.

Read more: Reddit data breach shows flaws of SMS-based authentication

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