Why was the BBC website down last night? Glitches on the world's biggest news site


The BBC web portfolio suffered its biggest outage ever last night. It was down for about an hour between 11pm and 12 midnight.

BBC News site boss Steve Herrmann said: “It’s not often we get a message from the BBC’s technical support teams saying, “Total outage of all BBC websites”. But getting on for an hour this evening, until just before midnight, that’s what happened. We haven’t yet had a full technical debrief, but it’s clear it was a major network problem.

“We’d like to apologise to everyone who couldn’t get onto the BBC News website during that time.”

I was actually working – as a part-timer – on the BBC Homepage on Monday (the day before the outage) and I think I’m alright to say that the content management system for the HomePage was down for most of the day, meaning the page had to be put into back-up mode. Even worse than Movable Type -and that’s saying something. Described by full-time staff as “the worst day ever”, it was obviously an annoying problem.

Though I don’t know whether that’s related to the outage or not, it does show that there inevitable technical glitches in maintaining a web presence as large and complicated as the BBC’s.

The BBC is the world’s most viewed online news provider.

BBC have drained a lot of resources out of their online arm but again – though no-one outside the BBC knows the exact details of spending, it’s unlikely that those cuts would come from technical departments. As the Paid Content article above states – the cuts are targeted, not general and “core” departments will be spared. We’re certain technology would fall under that description.

[via TechDigest]

Anna Leach


  • Some users, writing online, have speculated that the site had been subject to a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

    Typically, hackers will crash a website’s servers by swamping it with requests, usually from computers that have been hijacked using malicious software.

  • Sounds like it might be a DNS issue then. At the time of the outage all the BBC’s DNS servers were down, and maybe it’s taking some time for the fixed DNS servers to propagate out?

  • I think there were problems for a lot longer than 1 hour, I live in the Canary Islands and had been unable to access any BBC sites from my apartment since 2 2/23 March 2011. The same message appeared on Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox saying that they were unable to find BBC.CO.UK ( ANYSITE ).I was blaming the WiFi on the complex where I live but it looks like that was not the case because I could access every other site I needed to use.

    • Yes, I have the same problem for the last 2 days. And today is April 1st 2011. Nothing on the web about that problem though??

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