Widespread network outage affects Canvas, University website

Sept. 27, 2018, 2:00 p.m.

Students and faculty experienced a University-wide network outage affecting various school web services, including the official Stanford website, beginning at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday.

According to Director of University IT Communications Jim Knox, at approximately 12:30 p.m., the connection to websites on sites.stanford.edu and people.stanford.edu were restored. Some, but not all sites on web.stanford.edu were also made available. 

The outage prevented access to the Stanford Canvas login page and other websites hosted by the Stanford network, including certain course pages and department websites such as Student Affairs and Vaden Health Center.

University IT updated its home page to warn students of the outage.

“Stanford is currently experiencing issues with web services that rely on the AFS web infrastructure,” the post read. “These include fingate.stanford.edu, and websites on sites.stanford.edu, web.stanford.edu, and people.stanford.edu.”

According to the Stanford University IT website, AFS is an acronym for Andrew File System, an on-premise system used for file and data storage. 

The announcement added that University IT engineers were “currently investigating” the issue.

“UIT engineers are working to address the cause of the service disruption and to restore service,” Knox said. 

At 11:09 a.m., Associate Vice Provost and Chief Technical Officer Richard Webber sent a University-wide email alerting students that the Stanford Canvas login page was “currently inaccessible.” The email confirmed that the outage was related to the AFS web infrastructure.

An update on the Stanford Services and Support site read, “There is currently no estimated time of resolution.”

Some professors, aware of the network outage, took steps to notify students. A philosophy department email sent by Cyril Millendez, Student Services Officer in the Departments of Philosophy and Religious Studies, alerted students to a workaround way of accessing Canvas. Economics lecturer Chris Makler extended a quiz deadline for his ECON 50 students.

Other U.S. universities — such as the University of Georgia — experienced network failures on the same day. According to Knox, these outages are likely unrelated to Stanford’s.  

This report has been updated to reflect the sites that University IT has restored and to include comments from Director of University IT Communications Jim Knox. 


Contact Alex Tsai at aotsai ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

Alex Tsai ’21 is a senior staff writer for The Daily. Previous roles at The Daily include news desk editor and mobile app developer. Alex is majoring in Computer Science and is a member of the varsity lacrosse team.

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