Tesla drivers left out in the cold after server outage, but what actually went wrong?

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Tesla drivers around the world were left stranded over the weekend as a server outage forced them out of their cars.

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The Tesla app experienced issues for several hours, with users taking to Twitter to explain that they were unable to connect to Tesla’s servers, and therefore could not open their Tesla Model 3 and other vehicles from the manufacturer.

The problem only affects those trying to access their vehicles through Tesla’s smartphone app; So while users can still open their car using a physical key, anyone who hasn’t had that backup around could be in for a few hours of frustration.

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Tesla servers are now back online and users can once again use their smartphone as a car key. But this won’t be the last time we see a problem affecting Tesla’s servers – or any servers for that matter – so we’d advise you to always check for issues like this in the future. Have a backup option handy, even if using your phone is generally a more convenient solution.


Analysis: Probably not the last outage we’ll see

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As an explanation for the outage, Musk tweeted “It looks like we accidentally increased the verbosity of network traffic. Sorry, we will take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

In computing, verbosity refers to how much information a system logs as it performs actions; Changing the verbosity level of the system means it collects more data. A higher level is a great tool for error troubleshooting because you can more easily find out which step in the process failed, however collecting more data is taxing on a system because more actions need to be performed at a time. Occurs – potentially causing a slowdown or failure like Tesla saw put the system under stress.

Unfortunately, this kind of error is likely to happen again. An issue not specifically caused by verbosity but because of the restriction of computer systems everywhere: human error.

At some point, a human changed a line of code in Tesla’s servers that increased its verbosity level—either intentionally to troubleshoot a minor bug or as an unintended side effect of other work. While Tesla is taking measures to prevent this specific slip from happening again, unless it replaces all of its employees with fully built AI human error, AI will eventually strike once again.

As such, Tesla drivers will want to make sure they always have an alternative way to enter their vehicle. Thankfully, Tesla already offers this with its cars – giving drivers an internet-free way to enter their vehicles.

We recommend that you make sure you always carry it with you, even if it is at the bottom of the bag. Because whether it’s another issue on the Tesla-side, or just your phone’s data package ran out—you want to make sure you can drive home.

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