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Why did YouTube go down yesterday? Featured

Video sharing site YouTube suffered a global outage yesterday leaving many insufferably starved of content. Why did it happen?

Google, and YouTube themselves, remain tight-lipped, but Internet theorists have some suggestions.

First, the humorous, that a Google technician meant to shut down Google Plus but mis-clicked. Try it and click 'Shutdown YouTube' yourself!

However, a previous YouTube outage might give clues. This isn’t the first time YouTube has gone down, though given the past incident was in 2008 many might not recall it.

Even so, two-thirds of the world lost YouTube access due to a misconfigured censorship option by the Pakistan Government.

In February 2008, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered 70 Internet service providers to block access to YouTube because of what it said were anti-Islamic movies on the video-sharing site.

This restriction was supposed to only cover Pakistan. But Pakistan Telecom implemented the block by redirecting traffic to YouTube’s IP addresses to itself. The network’s upstream network provider in Hong Kong, PCCW, then erroneously advertised the Pakistan route as the fastest connection to YouTube, via Internet routing protocols.

As such, much of the worldwide traffic, especially within Asia, found all attempts to reach YouTube ending at a blocked network.

PCCW is among the 20 largest data carriers and its routing table was passed to other carriers without verification.

Routing misconfigurations occur routinely, albeit without so much of a global impact.

Could this be the problem the world experienced yesterday?


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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.


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