The 3-Day Lycos Server Outage Reminds Us of the Need for Backups

15671098451_e581ce9a00_hHere's a scary reminder that the cloud is not nearly as stable as we would like, and of the need for multiple backups.

This hasn't made the tech news blogosphere yet, but several sources have told me (and numerous complaints on FB and twitter confirm) that the web services company Lycos is suffering from a server outage.

The servers went down about three days ago (one source pinned the start as 3:20 pm, on 15 June) and they are still down today. That includes everything from websites to email and even the Lycos website itself, which currently redirects to and displays an error message.

There's still no official announcement from Lycos, but I did find a secondhand explanation via one of its customers/victims:

I have spoken with representatives from Lycos and I have been assured that the server they're currently working with is undergoing an upgrade for better service, but that they have encountered some unforeseen network issues which are hindering them at present.

We should hopefully be back up and running as soon as possible and will provide updates as to when we're active again. Meanwhile, the Blog and the Forums are still available - so check them out!

Launched in 1995, Lycos was originally a search engine tudent project at Carnegie Mellon University. It was spun out, went through an IPO, and during the late 1990s tech boom it was briefly one of the most popular sites on the web. it was acquired before the tech bubble burst for $12.5 billion, and then sold four years later for $95 million.

Since then it has been a generally unremarkable web company, posting revenues of $24 million in 2009.

And now it might be dead. There's some speculation that Lycos has filed for Chapter 11, but that is unconfirmed at this time. All we know right now is that the service is inaccessible.

And so are all the files, emails, and websites it was hosting.

So tell me, is your website backed up? What about your ebooks?

There are a bunch of services where you can store your ebooks online (for free, even) but backing up a website is a little harder.

Some services, like Squarespace and my webhost, insist that they can handle your backup needs for you. But with the Lycos fiasco staring us in the face do you really want to take that risk?

If you have a WordPress site, I can help you with that. This is the kind of thing I deal with for my web design firm, Valiant Chicken Digital. I can either set up a backup on your servers, or arrange for regular backups to be stored offsite. I even offer a maintenance plan.

If you're interested, you can leave a comment, send me an email, or fill out the contact form.

image by nudelbach

About Nate Hoffelder (11467 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

9 Comments on The 3-Day Lycos Server Outage Reminds Us of the Need for Backups

  1. I’m one of those affected by the Lycos outage. I only have one site there, a hobby site which I recently moved (or uploaded; the site code is on my computer, fortunately it wasn’t only on Lycos’s servers) to privately-owned hosting. But both of my domain names are with them, the domain for that site and the domain for my author site. Domains owned with Lycos are also not working, and there’s no way to contact them to get the necessary authorization codes to transfer. So all those links to my site in my books and everywhere on the web come up “page not found.” I’ve just registered the .net versions of my domain names and I’m trying to propagate those, but there’s nothing I can do about all the copies of my books that are out there with a non-functional site address in them.

    So, the moral of the story is, back up everything in different places, don’t let the only copy of your website be the one that’s on the host’s servers, and if you start to get a funny feeling at all about your hosting/domain name service, get out and find something better. I’d been with Lycos since 2001 and I’m realizing now there were signs earlier that I should have gotten out several years ago.

    • Yes, how did the domains go down as well?

      I would think that would be an entirely separate set of servers, ones which would be kept running even if the company was dead.

      • I had some correspondence with them right before this happened (I had to un-link the domain name from the subscription for my hobby site so I could move the site, and there was an issue with that) and I was told that they were moving to a different registrar (Lycos is only a reseller of domain names; they have to work with a registrar to actually manage the names). That was supposed to happen on Wednesday the 15th, which is when the outage occured. So I figure something must have gone spectacularly wrong with the transfer. Or else, yeah, they had it all on the same set of servers and they all crashed coincidentally at the same time as the move to the new registrar.

        • The theory I’ve seen is that something got messed up with the DNS. Which I don’t really understand very well, but just enough to see how that could have made everything implode.

  2. Wow! I am honestly shocked to learn that Lycos was still around.

  3. FYI – your email link is missing the “mailto:” part. It’s going to a 404 page.

  4. number one they went bankrupt already in March, 2, you cant back up with tripod/lycos, only make a copy of the file on their remote system, so if they go down, you have no backups.
    Check your facts this was a dire situation, misinformation is not helpful.
    Still no explantion from them before during or after. Unforgivable. I will be leaving them as soon as I finish my new site on godaddy.

  5. I’ve had nothing but problems with this company since May 2016.

    They have charged my credit card for several items that I did not wish to purchase, including $87.45 US for a subscription that I cancelled. They also charged me TWICE for three-year renewals of my domain name,, on two different credit cards, for a domain name that has been suspended by Melbourne IT and is now useless.

    It’s a total ripoff.

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