Twitter slows, but sustains website availability during earthquake
Develop | Posted August 24, 2011

As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, Mineral, Va. (about 40 miles northwest of Richmond) was struck by a rare 5.8-magnitutde earthquake Tuesday afternoon, shaking the ground under people’s feet along much of the East Coast. The ripples didn’t reach us down here in AlertSite’s Coconut Creek, Fla. office, or even quite up to our SmartBear office in Beverly, Mass., but the Web effects did.

As cell waves jammed nearly instantly after the 1:51 p.m. ET quake, it seems everyone’s next instinct was to take to Twitter to confirm the tremor they felt wasn’t imagined, or to quip about its effect on Washington, D.C. Twitter reported that 40,000 earthquake-related Tweets were shared within a minute of the strike, delivered at a rate of 5,500 Tweets per second.

Despite the spike in activity, Twitter successfully sustained 100 percent availability during the quake’s aftermath. Response times did not escape unscathed, however. Within minutes of the quake, Twitter’s response time nearly doubled, rising from 2.16 seconds to 4.17 seconds at 1:55 p.m.

Though the site’s website performance was impacted, the effects were not nearly as drastic as they once would have been. It seems that the importance of strong website performance and reliability has not been lost on Twitter developers, as they continuously strive to improve the user experience.


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