Leap Second Brings Down Major Web Presences

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazne) – Simply adding an extra second to the world’s clock proved to have major implications for several top web presences over the weekend.

On Monday, the BBC reported that websites including LinkedIn, Foursquare and Reddit faced downtime caused by the move, as the sites reportedly relied on synchronized operations via NTP (Network Time Protocol). It’s an operation that helps keep web presences in check with accurate time standards.

So why was an extra second needed? According to the BBC, it had to do with correcting the clock to fit with the Earth’s current rotation. While some web presences weren’t prepared for the move, the Internet’s largest web presence created an idea called a “leap smear” when battling a similar time shift on December 31st.

Describing the concept in September, Google stated, “We modified our internal NTP servers to gradually add a couple of milliseconds to every update, varying over a time window before the moment when the leap second actually happens. This meant that when it became time to add an extra second at midnight, our clocks had already taken this into account, by skewing the time over the course of the day.”

Sites affected worked to restore power. “Confirming we’ve restored access to all our services since 8:30pm Pacific. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thanks for your patience,” commented professional networking site LinkedIn when discussing the downtime.

This weekend proved unfortunate for many top web presences and services.  Early Saturday morning, Ping! Zine reported on a service disruption at Amazon’s North Virginia data center caused by storms in the area. That incident temporarily brought down services including Instagram, Netflix and Pinterest.