Philips Hue suffers holiday outage as servers fail to cope with demand

Philips Hue suffers holiday outage as servers fail to cope with demand

The smart light system was offline for many users for two days after Christmas

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The servers controlling Philips Hue smart lighting system were overwhelmed for two days this week, as a wave of new users caused the system to crash.

Just as with Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant - which was knocked offline for a couple of hours due to new Echo smart speakers being set up over the holidays - Philips Hue was unusable for many owners.

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This meant Hue customers - both new and existing - were unable to set up new bulbs and hubs, and could not control their lights using assistants like Alexa, or switch lights on and off via the Hue app. Newly bought lights still worked in a basic capacity, but could not be controlled by anything other than regular wall switches.

As you might expect, angry customers aimed their frustration at the Philips Hue Twitter account.

The situation was then worsened by Philips failing to publicly acknowledge the outage until the evening of December 26, and even when it did the Twitter account was mostly replying to users rather than posting updates. This meant that, unless by chance you were following both Philips Hue and the accounts it was replying to, you would not have seen these messages.

The company's replies to frustrated users on December 27 were vague, asking users to "please try again a few times today."

The Twitter account also seemed to be offering mixed messages about whether the problem was fixed, telling one user: "The issue should now be resolved, [but] during peak times you might still not be able to complete your account setup. We'd like to ask you to try again, preferably during a quieter moment."

Philips Hue tweeted on December 26 to say it was "seeing a lot of new activations which may result in some customers not being able to create a new account, log in, or link their account to third parties. We hope to have this solved soon".

A day later, the company said it was "on the case" and that it had identified the issue. Then, on the evening on December 27, the company tweeted to say the issue "appeared to have been resolved".

As well as Amazon Alexa and Philips Hue, the popular video game Fortnite also suffered from server outages immediately after Christmas. Players were forced to join virtual queues before they were able to play the game, which can only be played when connected to the servers of developer Epic Games.

(Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Philips Hue smart lights.)

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