« Davis Freeberg on Blockbuster's New Direction | Main | What Would You Like To See Netflix Do? »

Comments

Baff

I'm a night person, so I notice just about every time it goes down for maintenance. Quite annoying, but I just see it as par for the course for being a night person (most businesses are closed, mostly paid programming on TV, etc.)

Most of the time its just a minor inconvenience, but about once a month I get real annoyed by it (like when I think of some movie to add to my queue and I know I will forget later).

type-cast

Netflix is down almost every other night, it seems. Blockbuster site's up when Netflix is down, so I mostly add titles with them since Netflix is unable to work out the concept of zero down-time. Other companies can run with no scheduled down-time. Even the free public library has less down-time than Netflix.

CJ

Netflix site goes down? Must not be too often, since I've hardly noticed during the seven years I've been a subscriber...

profpudwick

I watched 50 min of Chariots of Fire on my computer (Watch Instantly) on Monday night, 20 minutes on Tuesday night, and the rest of it, 52 min, last night. I checked "Your Viewing History" to see how much time I'd used so far this month, and saw that Netflix had charged me 52 min for last night and 50 min for Mon night but 2 hours for Tuesday night!

Right after I started watchign it Tuesday night the site went down. I wondered if I could use the Watch Instantly if the site were down. It worked fine for those 20 min, or so I thought!

I could call customer service, but I've never come close to using all my Watch Instantly time, and while it might be worth an e-mail to report this issue, I don't think I'll bother to call. Anyone else have this problem?

Baff

@CJ - Netflix goes down at least once a week. It is usually midnight-2AM PST (3AM-5AM EST). In Hawaii that is 10PM-midnight. Statistically they have chosen the time to effect the least people, but for those of us it does effect, we see it regularly.

They are scheduled downtimes to update the servers with new features and recalculate things like ranking, sim%, movie recommendations, predicting your star ratings, etc. etc.

It is unfair to compare Netflix to static websites that rarely change. Netflix does a huge amount of calculating. That being said, sites like Yahoo, Google & Ebay don't go down nearly as nearly as much and they do far more. Though Ebay used to go down a lot when it was new, but Netflix isn't new anymore.

gir

Phased updates, where you redirect all traffic to one data center while you update another, then swap to update the second, is pretty old hat. One wonders why they haven't started doing updates that way long since. I'd guess they have one or more non-redundant components (probably database(s)) which forces them to take everything down.

On the other hand, they're not a small company anymore, and haven't been for quite some time. They should have been running full redundancy for quite a while.

kolohe61

I'm also in Hawaii, and I've noticed more frequent downtime than in the past. They used to just do it once a week, on the same night. I didn't mind this, as I knew when to expect it and could plan around it. But it's inconsistent now. Saturday night? Why?

paving

From a tech perspective the issue probably relates the databases that run the queues. If you can't access your queue you are probably not going to be doing much on the site. The entire site is probably based around dynamic interpretation of your assorted account details, eg your queue selections, recommendations, ratings history, etc. Hot-swapping that out is rather tricky as running concurrent operations would cost nearly twice as much.

Always-on websites such as yahoo, etc, are built entirely differently and there really is no good reason for them to be down entirely at any given time.

That said, I too have noticed a slight increase in downtime, being up late on the west coast. I would expect this relates to them actually fixing any issues with their site. This is a good thing that should be appreciated as database issues can snowball and ultimately render the service less usable.

The site performs very well in my opinion when it is up, which is 99% of the time.

Phatz

The site is doing much better with the down time situation now than it was 2-3 years ago. I have noticed an increase in the last month but nothing like it used to be. I am a night person too. It was alway a had rush to get my surfing done before the inevibale "tmporaily unavailble" message. Recently I have noticed that now, more often they shut done one feature and not the whole site. I think this is certainly a plus. For example the Cumunity and freinds feartures were shut down one day but aranging my queue was still possible. Another day the search features were shut down. I guess downtime come with all the upgrades. It is a trade off. It does seem to happen a lot if you are a night owl.

Cheers friends.
Matt

BTW Hi, I am Phatz on netflix. Nice to meet you all. =)

NetflixJunkie

I am really surpised that Netflix users do not become more upset with the frequent downtime.

In my business, we support customers who have large database and application backends. They also have to make updates all the time, but it is done in sections to minimize the affects.

Imagine if Amazon was done this often. They also have a rating system, and for much more than movies.

If the Netflix business is moving to VOD, they will need to figure out a way to get 99.99999% uptime. I do not think VOD users will put up with this too long.

Phatz

NetflixJunkie, What is VOD? I am guessing: Video On Demand? just a stab. You have a point. I am just pleased enough with everything else that the inconvenience doesn't rattle me. For example at this VERY moment [EDIT not any more] the Friends Feature down. OK, between the time I logged into my TypeKey and the time I wen back to check it returned up and running. My point was going to be all the site except the add a friend was working fine.

Cheers!
Matt

Edward R Murrow

"From a tech perspective the issue probably relates the databases that run the queues"

I asked my niece for some possible solutions since she helps out with the web site for her middle school and she's had to come up with solutions to similar problems - obviously on a smaller scale. She thought about it for about 5 minutes and came up with two possibilities:
1) Enable a hot standby to persist transactions then when the primary is back online, simply roll the transactions forward from the hot standby to the primary
2) Persist the transactions into a transaction queueing mechanism then when the database comes back online, play the transactions forward from the transaction queue into the database. She mentioned text files, but clearly that wouldn't work for Netflix. Something like MSMQ, JMS, Oracle AQ or IBM Websphere MQ would be more than adequate.

Obviously, Netflix needs some help in this area so I could hook-up my niece with the Netflix operations and web site team. She told me she would work for Mountain Dew and candy bars so I'm thinking that the price would be about right for Netflix.

Phatz

I am actually starting to become perturbed for the fist time today. my community features are down but none of my other friends are having any trouble. WTF? so yeah, it is an issue.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Sponsors

Third-Party Netflix Sites