Catch up on this week’s round-up of the latest hosting and tech news. Here’s what we’ve uncovered since our last edition.
Daytime internet use grows
As the world goes into lockdown, daytime internet use is surging. In the UK, where people are looking to work from home, stay entertained and video chat friends and family, BT has reported a 20% growth in daytime use. Evening use has remained more or less constant. However, to cope with demand for video streaming, Netflix, Facebook, YouTube and even newly launched Disney+ have all reduced picture quality to ease the burden on internet service providers.
For those who are seeing their internet service struggle, the advice is to download movies at quieter times rather than stream them when the network is busy; turn off devices not being actively used so they aren’t running in the background; avoid using the microwave when carrying out essential tasks, as it can interfere with the wi-fi; and keep your router away from devices that can interfere with the signal, such as TVs, speakers, monitors, dimmer switches, cordless phones and stereos.
Education platforms learning the hard way
To ensure education continues during school closures, schools have been using various education platforms so children can access classwork and learning resources. Unfortunately, some of these platforms weren’t geared up for the phenomenal and almost instant rise in demand.
One such platform, Firefly, which offered its services free to help out with Coronavirus and is used by 500 British schools, has seen its European services suffer from sluggish speeds and has even gone offline at times. With over a million users worldwide, the cloud-based service has had to scale up capacity by 13 times to meet current demand.
Video chat is trending
Over recent years digital technology has driven many of us to use more impersonal communication methods, with many preferring to send texts, messages and emails rather than chat over the phone. While video chat was possible, historically, it has never been that popular – until now.
The impact of Coronavirus on society has seen video chat take off in a way most providers never expected. In Italy, for example, there has been a 1000% increase in Facebook group calls since people have been confined to their homes. Reports in the news and on social media show how it is being used for all kinds of purposes. People are having get-togethers, pub quizzes, birthdays celebrations and even weddings, where the ‘attendees’ are taking part from their own homes.
Video chat is even helping keep the world going. Joe Wickes is using it to keep the UK fit and active; journalists at the government’s daily Coronavirus briefing are now asking questions from home; and US TV chat host, Conan O’Brien, will be filming his show on his iPhone while interviewing guests over video chat. Indeed, BBC’s One Show host, Matt Baker, kept up appearances on the programme despite being in isolation by video chatting from his couch.
Big clouds struggling over the UK
With increased internet usage, many UK companies are having to upscale resources to meet demand. Unfortunately, one of the major providers, Microsoft’s Azure, is apparently struggling to cope. Customers have reported issues with capacity, such as being unable to create additional resources, while also experiencing reliability problems.
While the provider’s service page indicates there are no outages, outage detector site, Down Detector, has received numerous reports over several days, most of which have been issues with virtual servers and web hosting.
While Azure does have considerable resources in other regions, the issue for many UK companies is that their resources need to be located in the same region for them to operate correctly. Moving them elsewhere could require significant reconfiguration. It’s a lesson that, when it comes to cloud, size and brand name isn’t a guarantee of the best service. Thankfully, WHUK’s UK-based datacentres can provide cloud hosting with all the resources you need.
The numbers up for 118 118 finance website
Directory enquiry service 118 118’s financial branch, which offers credit cards and personal loans, has temporarily taken its website offline after discovering unauthorised access. While the company issued an apology and said it was working to restore services as soon as possible, it didn’t mention whether a this was the result of a ransomware attack and whether any data breach had occurred. This is worrying as many newer types of ransomware not only ransom a company’s system but also steal data in the process, providing cybercriminals with two separate income streams.
Customers can continue to use their credit cards and anyone concerned about their accounts can contact via a chat link which the company has emailed to them or by telephone. If you don’t have the number, call 118 118.
Visit the WHUK website for more news, knowledge base articles, blog posts and information on our wide range of hosting services.