Amazon Flubs an Apology for Its Epic Server Crash

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Two weeks after Amazon's servers crashed causing dozens of websites to go down the company has finally issued an apology for what happened. Its explanation says an employee was trying to upgrade the server's capacity and messed up by shifting all of Amazon's server traffic to the wrong network (one that couldn't bear the load). "We want to apologize," said the company. "We know how critical our services are to our customers’ businesses and we will do everything we can to learn from this event and use it to drive improvement across our services." But not everyone's satisfied with the letter, which attempts to put the lid on a catastrophic week for many of its clients which ended up, in some cases, permanently destroying customer data. Here's what Amazon could've done better in the days since its servers crashed.

Timing This one goes without saying. It took two weeks for Amazon to apologize, a delay that made for a considerable headache for its customers. "One of the biggest criticisms of the whole affair was Amazon’s deafly silence," writes Zee at Read Write Web. "Startups and businesses were left to apologise to their customers because of Amazon’s failure."

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Charging Customers for Its Own Mistakes  One of the more outrageous responses was a letter Amazon sent to one of its bigger customers regarding the permanent deletion of information of the customers information.

A few days ago we sent you an email letting you know that we were working on recovering ... one or more of your Amazon EBS volumes.  We are very sorry, but ... our efforts to manually recover your volume were unsuccessful.
What we were able to recover has been made available via a snapshot. ... If you have no need for [it] please delete it to avoid incurring storage charges.

Storage charges? Seems like a bad time to bring that up, as Richi Jennings at Computer World points out:

Uh, hello? Did I just fall through a portal to an alternate universe? So, Amazon, it's not bad enough that you've lost their data; you have to add insult to injury by charging them for the storage of the corrupt copy of their data. Good grief.

Leaving Unanswered Questions  Though it was primarily caused by a human error, one would imagine there would be automatic safeguards preventing such a disaster. Though Amazon says it will do everything to prevent such a situation it doesn't give much details, as Business Insider's Henry Blodget points out:

Amazon has yet to fully explain what happened when its mission-critical and supposedly bomb-proof systems crashed, but the explanation will be important. As will the explanation for how the company could have permanently destroyed some of its customers data.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.