As Web Traffic Grows, Crashes Take Bigger Toll


Alex Payne, a 24-year-old Internet engineer here, has devised a way to answer a commonly asked question of the digital age: Is my favorite Web site working today?

Alex Payne created a way to tell if Web sites are working.
In March, Mr. Payne created, as in, “Down for everyone, or just me?” It lets visitors type in a Web address and see whether a site is generally inaccessible or whether the problem is with their own connection.
“I had seen that question posed so often,” said Mr. Payne, who perhaps not coincidentally works at Twitter, a Web messaging and social networking site that is itself known for frequent downtime. “Technology companies have branded the Internet as a place that is always on and where information is always available. People are disappointed and looking for answers when it turns out not to be true.”
There is plenty of disappointment to go around these days. Such technology stalwarts as Yahoo, and Research in Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry, have all suffered embarrassing technical problems in the last few months.
About a month ago, a sudden surge of visitors to Mr. Payne’s site began asking about the normally impervious Amazon. That site was ultimately down for several hours over two business days, and Amazon, by some estimates, lost more than a million dollars an hour in sales.
The Web, like any technology or medium, has always been susceptible to unforeseen hiccups. Particularly in the early days of the Web, sites like eBay and regularly went dark.

Enter your email address: