Valve's Steam suffers worldwide failure over the weekend

By Lee Kaelin on February 13, 2012, 10:00 AM

Valve’s digital games distribution service Steam suffered a worldwide failure for several hours on Sunday, leaving users unable to play games as well as taking offline the Steam user forum and various associated websites.

Despite claims from concerned users suggesting the popular gaming platform could once again be under attack, the fault was eventually traced to a failure of their central datacenters uninterruptable power supply (UPS) system. "Our data centre's uninterruptable power supplies experienced a power failure", an engineer posted on Steam’s forum yesterday. "The power is back on now and we're working to get service restored as quickly as possible."

A UPS system is a battery backup solution that is used to provide power when mains electricity fails, keeping servers running during brownouts and other intermittent power supply problems, while providing enough time to shut them down in the case of prolonged mains failures. In larger datacenters they're often supplemented with diesel generators which can be used to provide power during extended periods of power loss. UPS systems are situated between the power grid and the servers and when faults occur they often disrupt power to devices attached to them even if the mains supply is unaffected.

Around two hours later another Valve employee posted saying, "we are up and running at a normal user load. There are a couple of lingering issues which we will continue to work on until they are sorted." He also thanked everyone for their patience during the unexpected outage.

On Friday Valve co-founder Gabe Newell contacted users notifying them that the attacks last year were worse than first expected, and evidence has been found that the hackers had stole a backup file containing financial transactions between 2004 and 2008. No passwords were stored in the file and all of the personal information was encrypted. Nevertheless, he recommends users keep a close eye on credit card statements and use Steam Guard to provide an additional layer of protection as a precautionary measure.




User Comments: 29

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Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

wow, I have seen this steam logo soo many times on techspot I'm wondering if techspot are just advertising steam.

Any who, i'm just taking all this bad press against steam just means steam is going through their "Rough Patch" at the moment, it happens to the best of us.

Guest said:

why do people target steam and hack their servers and cause problems, they are a great company and yes i understand hackers want info. but take it from people who deserve to be tampered with not an organization that gives great games at great prices.

TekGun TekGun said:

At least try and read the article, where does it say steam was hacked? oh that's right it doesn't.

Raswan Raswan said:

tekgun said:

At least try and read the article, where does it say steam was hacked? oh that's right it doesn't.

"On Friday Valve co-founder Gab Newell contacted users notifying them that the attacks last year were worse than first expected, and evidence has been found that the hackers had stole a backup file containing financial transactions between 2004 and 2008. No passwords were stored in the file and all of the personal information was encrypted. Nevertheless, he recommends users keep a close eye on credit card statements and use Steam Guard to provide an additional layer of protection as a precautionary measure."

Last paragraph...

NeoFlux said:

...hackers had stole a backup file...

Backup should be stored offline, right?

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

gotta get a backup for the backup, sheesh

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

burty117 said:

wow, I have seen this steam logo soo many times on techspot I'm wondering if techspot are just advertising steam.

...Or Steam-related news is simply relevant to TS visitors. If you're complaining about the overuse of a picture, that's fixable .

SalaSSin said:

Matthew said:

burty117 said:

wow, I have seen this steam logo soo many times on techspot I'm wondering if techspot are just advertising steam.

...Or Steam-related news is simply relevant to TS visitors. If you're complaining about the overuse of a picture, that's fixable .

Nice fix :-)

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Matthew said:

...Or Steam-related news is simply relevant to TS visitors. If you're complaining about the overuse of a picture, that's fixable .

Hahahaha.

+1.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Matthew said:

burty117 said:

wow, I have seen this steam logo soo many times on techspot I'm wondering if techspot are just advertising steam.

...Or Steam-related news is simply relevant to TS visitors. If you're complaining about the overuse of a picture, that's fixable .

Ahahahaha! Now that is more like

Leeky Leeky said:

Aye.... The irony here is Matthew has used the image of the class he plays in TF2 to blow me up all the time!

Sorry for the repetitive image use Burty117, I'll mix it up a little in future coverage of Valve/Steam.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

No need to apologise, I just felt I'd seen a giant steam logo every other story posted, not your fault, just me visiting the site every time a new story about steam is posted, if I visited less I wouldn't notice

But then, where would I get my tech news!?

Either way, if any class in TF2 was to blow up the valve servers, it would be the demo man, not a solder! :p

PinothyJ said:

Good old Gab Newell...

Leeky Leeky said:

No need to apologise, I just felt I'd seen a giant steam logo every other story posted, not your fault, just me visiting the site every time a new story about steam is posted, if I visited less I wouldn't notice

But then, where would I get my tech news!?

Either way, if any class in TF2 was to blow up the valve servers, it would be the demo man, not a solder! :p

Aye, no worries. I always appreciate feedback, good or bad. In hindsight I agree, they needed changing up a little.

No, Pyro... See Mathew might blow me up nonstop, but I usually get him with the flames first, so he dies frantically rushing for a first aid kit.

We have a laugh on there. You should join us some time!

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I know, I should join, I'm a fail when it comes to time keeping outside of work, I know it's every Friday, what time (UK) does it all kick off?

Leeky Leeky said:

Its early on Saturday morning. 5am kick off for us in the UK.. I'm there most weeks. But me and Matthew usually fire up TF2 over the weekend in the evenings our time. So by all means join us for the Fragfest or in the evenings over the weekend.

I think I have you on my Steam anyway.

Guest said:

Isn't Newell's name Gabe, not Gab? Or he had volunteered his ending E to the "buy new UPS" fund? Honestly, mentioning the Steam's hacking again in this article seems like no chance is missed to attack Steam and try to discredit their service's reliability. Although there is no connection between hacking and UPS failures (unless it's a sabotage sponsored by the same rival company).

Even though hacking is a serious matter, the stolen encrypted credit card data was so old, I personally have changed two cards since 2008. And this UPS failure, what a big deal! Such thing can happen to anyone, no hardware is fail-proof. Even Macs have screens of death (so I was told). If not this article, I wouldn't even notice that outage.

I'm always ready to criticise Steam, but these attacks make one want to defend them. Steam has achieved a lot in fighting piracy (I'm an ex-pirate myself) and helping game developers to self-publish (my beloved Revolution software, for instance), so let's be compassionate when the guys have such a nasty problem.

Leeky Leeky said:

Isn't Newell's name Gabe, not Gab? Or he had volunteered his ending E to the "buy new UPS" fund?

Aye, typo, sorry for that. Correct now, and thank you for letting me know.

I don't think the article is critical of Steam in a negative manner. I was reporting the downtime, and even took the time to explain how the UPS works and what happens should it fail.

They do occasionally, nothing anyone can do about an unexpected failure of those components.

I mentioned the recent news in order to provide another reminder for those unaware of the previous article. Ultimately I'm not concerned about the stolen backup file. Valve were very honest from the outset, and there is certainly no cause for concern about whether they're being truthful given the previous statements and honesty.

I'm very fond of Steam, and I use it all day every single day. I agree that Steam is a step forward in digital game distribution, and offers fair deals on a lot of titles. It is also very convenient to use as well, I especially like having all of my titles in the one library and being able to download my whole collection at will without having to worry about any product keys, or damaged discs.

Guest said:

Credit card data breaches. Power outages. Now let's see...where is my bootleg copy of Skyrim?

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Guest said:

Credit card data breaches. Power outages. Now let's see...where is my bootleg copy of Skyrim?

Credit card data has not been compromised yet to anyone's knowledge as it was encrypted unlike private data held by Sony so at least Steam was following some level of security best practices.

But yes, it is not good if you can't play Skyrim because someone kicked the power cable out of the servers. Hope offline mode worked for people!

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

So that's what was going on, I was curious.

Alpha Gamer Alpha Gamer said:

Darth Shiv said:

Guest said:

But yes, it is not good if you can't play Skyrim because someone kicked the power cable out of the servers. Hope offline mode worked for people!

As a matter of fact it didn't, at least for me. I was playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning at the moment and I lost some progress.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Heh, me too. I saw a massive down spike in the user graph when checking store page on mobile.

Sucks though. Offline mode is still not fixed.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Leeky said:

Its early on Saturday morning. 5am kick off for us in the UK.. I'm there most weeks. But me and Matthew usually fire up TF2 over the weekend in the evenings our time. So by all means join us for the Fragfest or in the evenings over the weekend.

I think I have you on my Steam anyway.

5AM?! I had better get an early nights sleep to be awake at that time! :P

I've got a BT engineer coming out Thursday as my internet connection keeps going slow or dropping altogether and after my ISP ran some tests on the line it appears all this cold weather has taken its toll on the cable hanging in mid-air across our crescent and now the line is unbelievably unstable.

If the BT engineer fixes everything (I'm hoping for a whole new cable, the one there is like 40 years old) Then I will definitely join in the action on the Fragfest you never know, I might even setup the mic again.

You do indeed already have me on steam, so does Matthew

Leeky Leeky said:

Aye, I'm bad for that. I blame Matthew though, as he keeps me up talking and then points out at 1AM that I'm cutting it a bit fine for sleep!

Its a good laugh though. Be nice to have a fellow UK'er that actually understands what I'm saying as well! lol.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Leeky said:

Aye, I'm bad for that. I blame Matthew though, as he keeps me up talking and then points out at 1AM that I'm cutting it a bit fine for sleep!

Its a good laugh though. Be nice to have a fellow UK'er that actually understands what I'm saying as well! lol.

This Friday, Count me in

Guest said:

So can you say that their server ran out of "steam"?

Guest said:

At least now I know why I had problems with TF2 over the weekend. I just went to one of my favorite servers and connected but all the items were default (which was painful) and only a few people were on.

How do you guys connect up on TF2, do you have a specific server you're on? What do you play? I'm usually on CTF or Control Points.

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