Picture of Tweet showing Google apologyGoogle suffered a five minute breakdown of its entire systems last Friday. Everything went black – from the Google search engine itself, to Gmail, Google+. Google Apps and Blogger, as well as every other service that Google operates. They have not said what went wrong – but it was a major systems failure that no doubt sent panic around the offices of Google in Mountain View, California.

The loss of the entire Google “ecosystem” led to a whopping 40% drop in Internet traffic – showing the extent to which we all depend upon Google.

However, it is not the first major network problem in the past week or two. Microsoft has suffered a significant outage, leading to Outlook being unavailable for several days. Meanwhile, Amazon too lost its entire system for several minutes.

Conspiracy theorists have started their ideas, of course, suggesting that with three high-profile systems all collapsing within days of each other that it all “must” be due to the CIA probing things. Alternatively, it could just be that it is holiday time and that the numbers of maintenance staff are lower than normal and simple things get overlooked.

But whatever the explanation, it highlights the fact that we are dependent upon these networks. If you only used Outlook as your email system, could you have coped with no emails for three days? If you only used Google for Blogging and it went down for more than five minutes in the future, could your business website survive for a long outage? If you run a video business and YouTube fell over again, would your business suffer?

What this outage tells us, is not that the CIA may be undermining global networks to spy on us, but rather that we should not put all the eggs we have in one basket. That means if you have a YouTube channel you should also have one on Vimeo, for instance. If you use Gmail, also get a Yahoo Mail account or Outlook, as a backup. And if you use Google Docs as online storage, make sure you copy every file to an alternative online service, such as SkyDrive. When one goes down again – and it will happen – your business will not suffer as a result. The Google outage shows that if you rely on one supplier for your online services your business could suffer.


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