Month starts with a disrupting leap in service

Posted on July 15, 2012


A number of leading websites suffered an unscheduled outage as July got underway, with an extra second being added to the world clock causing the problem.

The leap second caused the issues on the back of many services already having been disturbed by major storms in the US. Added to the world clock to compensate for the effects of the earth’s rotation, it disrupted those sites relying on synchronisation throughout their operations.

Names confirming they were disrupted included FourSquare LinkedIn and Reddit.

The news aggregator did at least have time to recognise the humour of the situation, as it tweeted:

“You ever wish you had an extra second or two? This is not one of those times.”

Added on June 30th at 23:59:60 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), which is 00:59:60 BST, it may not seem something of huge consequence. As a leading computer expert explained though, it can lead to significant problems such as data loss.

The University of Surrey’s Professor Alan Woodward said:

“Across the global internet, a lot can happen in that second.”

Other high profile sites were affected, whilst there were also reports that airline booking systems had issues. Some SEO companies would likely also have had issues with scheduled content updates falling over.

However, it seems they all could have learned from search giants Google.

Back in 2011, a blog post advised its readers how it dealt with the issue through a concept it called “leap smear”. The process involved adding milliseconds gradually through the day, thus rendering the leap second, redundant.

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