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There are a few online services we are absolutely dependent on to get us through a working day. Gmail comes to mind when we think of productivity. Facebook, though a time waster at the best of times, is a social networking ally of the first order. Though these services have very few downtimes, when they do go off the grid, it can lead to losses. The losses need not be commercial, because for laymen like you and me it could be a loss of temper and time too when we aren’t able to use our favorite online services.
Service disruptions can be due to various reasons – from local problems in your computer or the national Internet node to some glitch on the servers along the way. There are ways of course to figure out if a website is really down or it is some other error. But apart from these third-party services (I would also add Twitter to the list), there are the official status pages of online services too. You can keep them bookmarked for easy access and check if the service disruption is global or local.
The App Status Dashboard of Google covers all of Google’s myriad services. You can check the current status of all running services and even go back in history and see if that undelivered email for example was a result of a temporary downtime. As the page says – Unless otherwise noted, this status information applies to consumer services as well as services for organizations using Google Apps.
Colored indicators tell you the status at a glance. A green indicator shows that all systems are running smoothly. You can even use the RSS feed to stay updated is any of the Google services are mission-critical. Click on the status dots and a full explanation of the disruption is provided on a separate page.
You can sign-in to review status updates that apply to your account or take a general look around the Microsoft services from the Status page. Of special interest in my opinion are usually Outlook and SkyDrive. It seems barebones, but you can go to the Status History page and review the full details on the disruptions and the extent of their resolution. The record goes back to 60 days. You can of course, report problems when you encounter them. I can’t tell you though if Microsoft Support will respond or your complaint will get dumped into a large blackhole.
Apple as is its wont to keep things simple, displays a single status notification for its iCloud services. We did see the iCloud Mail service go down for around 15 hours in September, so this page did get its share of hits from irked users.
In my opinion, of all the services on this brief list, it is Twitter that goes tumbling down more often. Its status fail is probably the most ‘iconic’ thanks to the famous fail whale of Twitter. It even has a fan club on Twitter. The whale comes swimming in generally when Twitter is over-capacity. But if there is any other reason, you can read up on it on the Twitter Status blog which the service strangely hosts on Tumblr. Reading the blog, you just might think that downtimes aren’t as frequent as they seem though I don’t think they write about every service disruption here.
But if you like to keep one bookmark at the expense of all the others, check this:
DownRightNow is an essential bookmark because it monitors in real-time all the popular services. Top services include – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Gmail, Tumblr, Windows Live Mail, and Yahoo. You can set the information to refresh automatically. DownRightNow crowdsources information and also taps into tweets, service support sites like the ones above, and third-part monitoring services.
If something has to go wrong it will, and it frequently does so on the web. With the aid of these support services we can tide over these service disruptions by quickly finding alternate ways to communicate on the web till they are back up again. Reacting quickly rather than reacting with frustration is the better option. So stay tuned. Tell us about any particularly damaging experience related to a service disruption.
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