Amazon's cloud storage knocked offline by storm

Netflix customers on Friday evening saw nothing but red. Instagram users couldn't upload or view photos. And a number of other websites and services were knocked offline. Storms had disrupted Amazon Web Services, which stores vast amounts of data for companies worldwide.

The problems began around 11 p.m., when a storm caused electrical failures on the East Coast that left 3 million people without power and at least 12 dead.

Late Friday, on its status blog, Amazon said it was "investigating elevated error rates impacting a limited number" of customers. The company said the failure had happened at a server facility in Virginia and because of the lightning storm.

While Amazon continued to update its blog, information remained sparse throughout the evening.

As of Saturday morning, the company said it had managed to get some services back, but was still working to resolve others.

Many companies that use Amazon Web Services were left waiting for updates, too, passing along snippets of information to their customers.

Instagram, the photo-sharing service, said on Twitter, "Due to severe electrical storms, our host had a power outage, no data is lost - we've been working through the night to restore service." Instagram users reshared the message more than 31,000 times.

Netflix and Pinterest, which were both offline for most of the evening, also took to Twitter to tell users the status of the failure. Foursquare also was partly affected.

Most of these public-facing sites were back online by Saturday morning, although some seemed spotty.

As customers have come to rely on Amazon for storage, these shutdowns leave analysts questioning the viability of cloud-based storage - specifically when many companies don't have a fallback.

Amazon has suffered repeated failures in recent months. The company was offline from a major shutdown in June. In April, areas of the company's storage facility went down for several days.

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