Growing Pains for Coinbase

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One of the latest and most visible examples of a site that is suffering due to its own success. As the prices of Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum crypto currencies have soared, the number of buys and sells on Coinbase have gone “through the roof”. Because of this trade volume, Coinbase and it’s customers have experienced a number of issues:

According to Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s CEO, while he could not be more excited by the surge in popularity – it is coming at the cost of “extreme volatility and stress” on ther systems.

“We wanted to remind customers that access to Coinbase services may become degraded or unavailable during times of significant volatility or volume. This could result in the inability to buy or sell for periods of time. Despite ongoing increases in our support capacity, our customer support response times may be delayed, especially for requests that do not involve immediate risks to customer account security.”

Over the last week, the site has been extremely slow at times, has crashed and Coinbase temporarily halted trading of some or all of the currencies a few times – due to extreme volume.

This is a big reminder that when doing load testing, you should plan for your site to be able to handle significantly more traffic than your “norm”. While this is an extreme case and most likely fell outside of all but the most optimistic of predictions, many sites are only able to handle a moderate increase over their normal traffic. This type of thinking works until it doesn’t.

Plan to be successful, and make sure that your site allows you to be.


Note: Coinbase seems to be making a Herculean effort to beef up their infrastructure and they have been very transparent as to the issues they have been having. Cudos!

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