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DNS Outage Takes Down Microsoft and its Affiliates

April 2, 2021
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Heather Oliver is a Technical Writer for Constellix and DNS Made Easy, subsidiaries of Tiggee LLC. She’s fascinated by technology and loves adding a little spark to complex topics. Want to connect? Find her on LinkedIn.

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No fun and games for Microsoft Corporation this April Fools’ Day—talking about ironic timing! The only thing that might have topped this was Slack’s big splash into the new year with its massive outage that stormed tech news worldwide.

Microsoft Experiences 5-Hour Outage on April Fools’ Day 2021

At around 5 p.m EST (2 p.m. PST) on April 1, 2021, Microsoft fell offline, taking Office 365, OneDrive, Xbox Live, Skype, Bing, and its own cloud service Azure down with them. Microsoft 365 posted the following status in response to their users at 5:43 p.m. EST:

Microsoft Outage Confirmed as DNS-related Issue

At 5:56 p.m. the company reported that they were investigating the outage as a potential DNS-related issue, and later confirmed DNS to be the root cause. A little over an hour later, Microsoft 365 tweeted the following message:

“We rerouted traffic to our resilient DNS capabilities and are seeing improvement in service availability. We're managing multiple work streams to validate recovery and apply necessary mitigation steps to ensure complete network recovery.”

It wasn’t until 10:37 p.m. that Microsoft 365 services were back up and running smoothly. 

Microsoft Azure services fared a little better, apparently resolving issues directly related to its services around 8:32 p.m., though some customers reported still having issues on the East Coast.

Xbox was hit with user complaints about the inability to sign in, use Matchmaking, Party Chat, or the Store. Xbox Support tweeted that they were investigating the issue at 6:55 p.m. EST. The issue for Xbox users was reportedly resolved for most users at 7:43 p.m.

Customers in an Uproar Over Microsoft Outage

Needless to say, customers weren’t very happy about the outage and made sure their voices were heard in the Twittersphere and other social channels, some even asking for viable recommendations to Office 365 and others going so far as threatening to purchase a different game console. 

A Strong DNS Strategy is a Must in 2021

With so many businesses and individuals relying on Microsoft products for productivity, connectivity, and entertainment, this 5-hour outage was huge. What’s interesting is that Microsoft noticed a spike in traffic on their servers after investigating the issue. It was not reported when the spikes began, but it’s likely this had an impact on the outage. This is yet another example of why Secondary DNS, Failover, and Multi-CDN solutions are so crucial in today’s digital age. As this was a confirmed DNS issue, it could have been avoided entirely with the right DNS strategy. 

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