How-To

Are you really to blame? How to check whether Apple’s services are down


Think about the tasks you perform on your Mac on a regular basis: chances are, many of them rely on Apple’s online services.

Whether it’s sharing documents via iCloud; catching up with your favourite TV shows or listening to music in iTunes, using Mail and Messages to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues; or downloading updates from the App Store – we never really notice how much we rely on online services, until those services are suddenly no longer available.

Although Apple’s services are generally reliable, nothing online is immune to downtime, and if a product you use on a regular basis goes offline, then everyday tasks can suddenly become surprisingly difficult.

If you do experience issues with any of Apple’s online apps or services, then most of the time the problem will lie with your Mac, but this isn’t always the case.

In this article, I’ll be showing you how to check whether any Apple service is experiencing downtime, interruptions, or a range of other issues – so the next time an Apple product is misbehaving you’ll know for sure whether you really are the one to blame!


Visit the Apple System Status page

Apple have helpfully created a dashboard where you can see the status of all their online services, so if you’re experiencing a problem that could be caused by downtime or interruptions, then the best place to go for information is the Apple System Status page.

The majority of the time, every light on this dashboard will be green, but if you spot a red, yellow or orange dot next to the service you’re trying to access, then it means this service is experiencing interruptions, downtime, has been purposefully taken offline for maintenance, or is simply not functioning as intended.

Even if the light is green, this service could still be experiencing issues, as it’s possible that Apple aren’t aware of the problem yet. It usually only takes a few minutes for new issues to appear in the System Status page, so hit that ‘Refresh’ button a few times just to make sure you’re viewing the very latest information.

The Status page will also display information about any recent interruptions that have been resolved, so if your problem is due to downtime or service interruptions, then keep checking this page from time to time to see whether normal service has been resumed.

Use a third party website

If the dashboard is green but you’re still convinced there’s a problem with this service, then you can get a second opinion by checking a third party website.

There’s no shortage of sites that exist solely to report on the status of other websites, but my personal favourite is www.isitdownrightnow.com as it provides a good amount of information about any issues it does discover, and it keeps a record of each website’s response times, which is useful if you ever need to verify whether a website is running more slowly than usual.

Simply head over to isitdownrightnow.com, enter the URL you want to test, and then click ‘Check.’ This will return this website’s current status, alongside lots of other information.

It also provides the date and time when this website last experienced downtime, so if you’re considering using a service in an important project, then you may want to use isitdownrightnow to help you gauge how reliable this service is.

Note that if you want to use a third party website to check whether the App Store is down, then the URL you need to use is itunes.apple.com.

Check Twitter

With people around the world accessing Apple’s services on a 24/7 basis, if there’s an issue with one of their services then you can bet that someone is complaining about it on Twitter!

Try performing a Twitter search for the service in question, and if that doesn’t return anyone tweeting about the same issues you’re experiencing, then try searching for the service plus words such as “downtime” or “outage.” However, if you do discover a relevant tweet, then always check that tweet’s timestamp just to make sure this isn’t someone complaining about service interruptions that happened years ago!

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Chris

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