what causes internet outages
Internet Tips and Tricks

Take Control: What Causes Internet Outages & How to Handle Them Like a Pro

Have you ever been in the middle of a Netflix binge, only to have the stream suddenly stop and the dreaded “internet outage” notification pop up on your screen? It’s the worst, right? But have you ever stopped to think about what causes internet outages?  

Well, buckle up because we’re about to dive into the world of internet outages. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the dreaded internet service interruptions and what you can do to get back online as fast as possible. 

What’s an Internet Outage?

First things first, let’s define what an internet outage is. Simply put, an internet outage is when your internet connection goes down, and you can’t access the internet.  

Outages can happen on a small scale, like just in your own home, or it can be a wider issue affecting your entire neighborhood or region. 

According to Network World, the number of internet outages is steadily rising. But while it can be annoying when it happens, luckily, it’s not something you need to worry about constantly. 

What Causes Internet Outages?

So, what causes internet outages? There are a few different reasons that your internet connection might go down. 

Natural Disasters 

One cause of internet outages is natural disasters. If there’s a big storm, fire, or earthquake, it could damage the infrastructure that helps bring the internet to your home, such as cables or towers. Similar to when a branch falls on a power line and knocks out the electricity – the internet can go down in the same way. 

But it’s not just nature in its most disastrous sense that causes internet outages. A small storm can be enough to leave thousands without internet access. Recently, a woodpecker in Phelan, CA, chewed through a fiber optic cable, leaving an entire neighborhood offline. Who knew woodpeckers were such internet trolls? 

Human Error 

Human error can also play a role in internet outages. Sometimes, construction workers might accidentally cut through a cable while working on a road or building. Or, unfortunately, there are cases of vandalism where someone intentionally damages internet infrastructure. 

Additionally, people can accidentally cause internet outages or damage a utility line by digging in their backyard while doing activities like landscaping. Therefore, always call 811 before you dig, even if you’re just doing some minor work in your backyard. The 811 services will mark the location of any underground utilities so you can avoid damaging them. 

In addition to calling 811, exercise caution when digging or excavating. Make sure to use the right tools and equipment. Follow all safety guidelines to ensure that you do not damage any utilities or cause any harm to yourself or others. By taking these simple precautions, you can help prevent internet outages and other utility disruptions. 

Equipment Failure 

Equipment failure is another common cause of internet outages. Your modem and router are like the internet gatekeepers in your home. They bring the signal in and distribute it to your devices. If either one of them fails or goes bad, it can cause your internet connection to go down. 


Lastly, internet outages can be caused by cyberattacks. This is when someone intentionally tries to disrupt internet services, usually to cause chaos or make a political statement.   

One well-known example of this is the Mirai botnet attack in 2016, which took down major websites like Twitter, Netflix, and PayPal. 

What to Do If There’s an Internet Outage

So now that we know what can cause internet outages, what can you do when it happens to you? Here are a few tips: 

  • Check with your internet service provider (ISP) to see if there is a known outage in your area. They should have information on their website or social media pages, or you can try calling their customer service line. 
  • Restart your modem and router. Sometimes giving them a fresh start can help get your internet connection back up and running. 
  • Try using a different device to connect to the internet. If your phone or tablet can still access the internet but your laptop can’t, there could be a problem with the laptop itself. 
  • Consider using a mobile hotspot. If the outage is widespread and you need to get online, you can use your phone’s data plan as a hotspot. 

It’s always a good idea to have a plan in place for internet outages, especially if you rely on the internet for work or communication. 

Final Thoughts on Internet Outages

Internet outages are relatively rare, especially compared to other types of service disruptions like power outages.  

However, if you do experience an internet outage and you’re not sure what to do, your ISP should be able to help. They can diagnose the issue and tell you what steps you can take to get your internet connection back up. It’s always a good idea to have their contact information on hand, just in case. 

In the end, internet outages are just one of those things that can happen sometimes. The important thing is to stay calm, follow the steps outlined above, and remember that it’s usually just a temporary inconvenience. Happy browsing!