Wikipedia suffers 2-hour downtime due to cut fiber cables

By Lee Kaelin on August 7, 2012, 9:30 AM

Online encyclopedia Wikipedia suffered an outage around 14:30 GMT for two hours yesterday after two crucial fiber cables close to one of their datacenters in Florida were accidently cut, resulting in the site and its associated services running very sluggish and in some cases becoming completely unreachable.

“Someone cut the cables going to the Tampa, Florida data centre. We have two big [centres], one in Florida and one in Virginia, and some network proxies in Amsterdam. Everyone in that data center was affected,” said David Gerard, a spokesperson for the Wikimedia Foundation in a statement to the BBC.

The fiber cables between the two datacenters were repaired within 66 minutes, although it took another hour before normal service to the popular website resumed.  Wikipedia was quick to rule out any possibility of the outage being the result of a malicious act, though at the time it was still unclear what had caused the incident.

Concerned visitors quickly took to Twitter to voice their concerns. “Wikipedia is down. I don’t know anything anymore,” tweeted Guillermo Esteves. Wikimedia also released a statement saying, “we're having some technical issues, but our engineers are working on it. We'll be back soon!”

Despite being a non-profit with limited funds, Wikimedia, the foundation responsible for running the site has an impressive record of uptime and is visited daily by millions seeking information from its vast libraries of content. In fact, the last time the site suffered any downtime was intentional, when it blacked out its English website for 24 hours in protest of SOPA in January.

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