back to article Fitness freaks flummoxed as massive global Garmin outage leaves them high and dry for hours

Garmin's Connect service has been down for more than seven hours today to the frustration of fitness enthusiasts keen to upload running times or synchronise with other services such as Strava. So, too, is the company's web shop and support forums. Users have expressed obvious concern that such an extended outage is indicative …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can feel the weight piling on

    This is so serious. It's now firmly established by scientists that if exercise isn't on Strava it doesn't make you fitter or leaner. So now that's an hour out and about on a beautiful summers morning totally wasted!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can feel the weight piling on

      I just checked mine and either the service has been down for months or all I've done in lockdown is sit on the couch and watch Netflix.

      When will Garmin fix this?

  2. BillD
    FAIL

    Just synced my watch. The number of steps is displayed, but nothing else. Says "Sorry, we're down for maintenance. Check back shortly.". Maintenance? Hacked more likely?

    1. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Ooooh, all your heartbeats are belong to blackhats now. Maybe they've encrypted them and are going to try and ransom them back to you for Bitcoin.

      1. Flywheel Silver badge
        Unhappy

        I'd be more worried if our health/life insurance companies bought them!

  3. Maximum Delfango Bronze badge

    Every cloud has a silver lining.

    Surely the stress of the site being down will lead to useful weight loss.

  4. theBatman

    I can wait for kudos

    GPS watch data is most useful when I’m actually running. Pace, distance, heart rate mainly. The device itself still works just fine. Some people I know only upload their runs to Strava once a week or less...

    But it would be nice to know what’s going on at some point!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can wait for kudos

      Some people I know only upload their runs to Strava once a week or less...

      Most - no, all - people I know couldn't give a rat's bottom

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can wait for kudos

      "Some people I know only upload their runs to Strava once a week or less..."

      That'll mainly be the people doing their weekly workout

  5. Korev Silver badge
    Pint

    Well, according to the Garmin Connect app I don't have a pulse this afternoon - should I be worried?

    If Garmin's not watching then I'll sneak a few of these in... -->

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think you've been paged out due to inactivity.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "worrying perhaps about their personal data stored there"

    The time to worry was when they were wondering whether to store the data.

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    IT Angle

    If a man goes for a run in the forest....

    And his Garmin device doesn't track it, did he actually get any steps in?

    (I'm feeling philosophical this morning.)

  8. Jan 0 Silver badge

    This should come as no surprise if you are the owner of a Garmin device. Surely we're all used to unexpected crashes, loss of satellite fixes, erroneous navigation instructions, etc. Losing a data centre seems par for the course if you own a Garmin device . When I want to record a track for posterity, I record it simultaneously on my Garmin and using a 'phone app.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Love my Garmin!

      Well the advantage of running with the phone is that it adds about 10% to my distances, makes me look faster as the location jitters from side to side of the road. I guess if I only ever used it to stagger back from the pub it might match reality. Meanwhile all the Garmin kit i have owned (a lot...) has generally 'just worked'.

  9. anothercynic Silver badge

    Those who bleat like the world has ended...

    ... Are likely to be the kind of panicky dramatic Karens of the world... Given that one would expect Garmin to have DR processes, I'm not too concerned yet. They had a similar problem a while ago where FIT files uploaded to their platform were ignored/not ingested and processed.

    I have to agree with the person asking why this would have to stop making the watch communicate with the phone... Why the phone app can't simply download the files/data from the watch and keep it until the API becomes available again has been a question I've posed to Garmin before. But this outage won't make me change away from them purely because they haven't communicated with me and held my hand (virtually) to stop me panicking about how my life has not ended because their service fell over.

    Stuff happens. It'll be back no doubt.

    1. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Re: Those who bleat like the world has ended...

      Not having a fitness device I couldn't give a toss about it personally. However a company not only not acknowledging an outage for several hours but being dead silent in the face of their own customers asking them about it is, historically, Not A Good Sign.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Those who bleat like the world has ended...

      How are ISIS going to track coalition forces?

      1. m0rt

        Re: Those who bleat like the world has ended...

        Sub-contract ODIN....

  10. redpawn Silver badge

    Time to Panic

    I tell my wife I'm off lifting weights followed by some cardio when I go to the pub. If she finds out where I've been and where I go afterwards I'm done for.

  11. IGotOut Silver badge
    Mushroom

    First World Problems

    "A customer was quick to comment that "the fact that this makes my watch not talk to my phone makes me upset". "

    GET A LIFE!

    That is all.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: First World Problems

      I agree that it's a first-world problem, but for some of the watches the only way to set up routes, waypoints, training plans, workouts, etc. is via the app on the phone and bluetooth. If you can't set up your £600 watch for your weekend's activities because the app won't work if it can't contact the mothership then you might have some justification in feeling a bit annoyed.

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: First World Problems

      I have a friend with ME, if she does too much one day then she's dead the next. She tracks her activity using a Garmin watch to help with this. Her watch has now given up tracking*, so she can't estimate her activity very well

      * I guess there's a very small buffer on her watch

  12. Cragganmore

    Just upload manually to Strava..

    Work-around: just connect Garmin watch via USB to laptop, and navigate under activities folder to locate the latest "FIT" activity file and manually upload to Strava. Actually quicker than doing it via (the now kaput) Garmin Connect.

    How many times will Strava's IT folk double-check their backup strategies this evening...

    1. Spacedinvader
      Unhappy

      Re: Just upload manually to Strava..

      Take phone, google tracks yer arse anyway....

  13. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    FAIL

    But I NEED to know how 'old' I am

    I went for a jog this morning, and I cannot find out how old Garmin's fitness VO2 Max thingy thinks I am. I like tube somewhere in the mid to low 20's, but I suspect today was low 30's (I'm nearing 60 in chronological age). If I don't know, because Garmin won't show me the files, then how can I boast to my friends how youthful I feel?

    But seriously, the design that requires a mobile phone with several megabytes of store left to connect to the interpleb, and a Garmin server in order to display information on a wrist-borne fitness tracker not 10cm away requires some justification. Is there no option for getting the data stored and displayable on the 'phone in the absence of an interplay connection?

    1. StephenD

      Re: But I NEED to know how 'old' I am

      Agreed. I rely on Garmin telling me I'm as fit as a 20-year-old (I'm 46) to balance out Strava telling me after every run that my training is "unproductive". A minimum of one of them is telling porkies.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: But I NEED to know how 'old' I am

        My experience is that Garmin make decent devices with rubbish support, apps and analysis. I tried Strava (running) but too much is locked behind a paywall. Smashrun is my go-to running app (web only, and probably not many other users if you're the sharing kind). It too has some stuff behind a paywall and it's the only exercise app that I pay the subs for the "pro" version. I'm not affiliated.

        1. Dangermouse 1

          Re: But I NEED to know how 'old' I am

          Agreed about Garmin - I've got a Montana GPS - nice hardware let down by appallingly flaky software.

          They stopped being good sometime after the classic 2610.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: But I NEED to know how 'old' I am

            Actually, I am somewhat worried that I am considered to be as fit as a twenty-something year old. It means that lots of twenty-something year olds are terribly unfit, unable to run two miles without having a stop for a breather and generally not the 'Uber-mensch' needed to create the next super-generation able to survive the coming climate/covid/AI apocalypse. (Does the Register still have a 'Rise of the Machines' section?). Oh well, I suppose that is Darwinian evolution for you.

            Let's hope Garmin can get their act together soon and cope with the terabytes of fitness data about to avalanche to their servers the minute they are back from 'maintenance'.

  14. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Ransomware....

    .....allegedly. The production lines are down too, according to some reports and "Garmin planning multi-day maintenance window to deal with ransomware incident." according to interwebs.

    Let's hope the first day of the multi-day maintenance window isn't spent shouting things like "what do you mean you've never tested the backups".

    Assuming it's true, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that the production line systems reside on the same network as the app servers.

    Funnily enough only yesterday I was looking at one of their new solar powered "watches" for multi-day backpacking trips. It's due out Q3 this year - although it might be delayed now -- and I might be having second thoughts about buying one.

  15. Sandgrounder

    Connect architecture

    I would guess that the platform architecture was designed to preserve power whilst running over low bandwidth comm links. Data has to be compressed and packaged very efficiently when making use of very low bandwidth (or high cost) data links. That takes processing power which drains battery life. When the receiver has a finite sized battery and is expected to run for long periods, this can be problematic. It remains a key challenge when working with remote sensors communicating over satellite links for example.

    In days of old, when connectors were male/female and masters controlled slaves, Bluetooth had higher power requirements and batteries were lower capacity. Add to that a watch sized device meant to run for days. Power savings could be made if the full data stream did not need unpacking and converting continously by client apps.

    Then consider the lower software costs of maintaining a single reporting API that doesn't need rewriting with each new form factor or device and it kind of makes sense.

    Finally, replace the engineers with the beancounters and why change a working product not milked completely dry yet?

    To be fair I personally found the Garmin Connect APIs to be well designed and implemented,and the support first rate. Unfortunately the licensing terms meant only those with a serious enterprise budget could access the data in near real-time. The rest of us had to make do with whenever the user finally synced their device.

    1. NightFox

      Re: Connect architecture

      "In days of old, when connectors were male/female and masters controlled slaves"

      Woke pitchforks are being sharpened as we speak

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Warning: snoflake discovered

        Hey, guys! There's a snowflake around. This one got downvoted!

  16. chololennon
    Mushroom

    Ransomware atack

    Be prepared for the worst, according to this ZDnet article, Garmin could have suffered a ransomware attack :-O

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/garmin-services-and-production-go-down-after-ransomware-attack/

  17. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    As of now, 0555 GMT .... Still Struggling

    The reach of the infection remains unknown to third-party observers. Besides home consumer-grade wearables, sportswear, and smartwatches, Garmin also provides mapping and tracking solutions/equipment for the automotive and maritime industry. The impact of the ransomware attack on these services remains unclear. ..... https://www.zdnet.com/article/garmin-services-and-production-go-down-after-ransomware-attack/

    "Sorry, we're having a problem communicating with our servers" ..... has impacted their sat nav update operation/Garmin Express.

    1. rob miller

      Re: As of now, 0555 GMT .... Still Struggling

      Pilots have told ZDNet today that they haven't been able to download a version of Garmin's aviation database on their Garmin airplane navigational systems. Pilots need to run an up-to-date version of this database on their navigation devices as an FAA requirement. Furthermore, the Garmin Pilot app, which they use to schedule and plan flights, was also down today, causing additional headaches.

      So maybe "how well I slept last night" not their biggest concern today? I think most airlines here in TZ use this for planning in-country flights.

      Wouldn't it be nice if led to sufficient pressure from sufficiently important customers to make this stuff work standalone?

      1. Fursty Ferret

        Re: As of now, 0555 GMT .... Still Struggling

        The InReach service is still up and running, although you can't register new devices. Not sure what would happen if your billing date was yesterday though.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: As of now, 0555 GMT .... Still Struggling at 20200725 at 14:00 BST

          Still down. On my phone the app does not even get past the jogging man animation before giving up and returning to the home screen.

  18. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Same Old

    Why are people continuing to trust on these 'connected' devices, when there have been years of evidence they don't stay connected, but instead leak like sieves.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Same Old

      Because they have little choice. Manufacturers have realized that there's potential for making more money down the line by locking their hardware to the web, even if only through enforced obsolescence - like Garmin, effectively, did with the Tacx Neo, which they bought, "accidentally" bricked and then offered a repair service for £650. At the moment they don't charge recreational users for updates and it's still possible to buy offline maps for their navigation devices, but I expect that to stop pretty soon when they start milking the user base.

      In a few years' time everything will want to be connected, from fridges to lawnmowers, so that they can sell your data, sell you updates and make you buy new stuff every five years.

  19. Quentintheflorid

    Who Cares?

    First world problems!

    Been a runner since 1978. Never needed anything other than a simple Casio digital watch on my wrist.

    Tried a Garmin watch - inaccurate and needless. Sent it back as it was so inaccurate.

    Unless you're an Olympic class athlete, which 99.9% of people are not, you don't need one or any other over rated fitness tech.

    1. Sam Jelfs

      Re: Who Cares?

      Oh do get over yourself...

      I use a garmin, I use it to track my progress. I use it to navigate when I am on trails. Why is this an issue for you?

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Who Cares?

      @Quentin - horses for courses I guess. I used to run with a just a Casio and have a couple of routes where I knew the mile points plus a spreadsheet to plot them out and track "performance". Then I got a Garmin and the main thing I love about it is the freedom to run anywhere, not just the routes I've measured, and still get an idea of how well I'm doing. This is the main benefit for me but the ability to set a a "virtual racer" pace and use it to get faster and fitter is also pretty good.

      Altitude aside, I've no complaints about the accuracy of the Garmin, so maybe you had a duff unit. I use mine for running, cycling and hillwalking and it's been going since 2014 - I bought a spare battery a couple of years ago just in case. Garmin apps, support and analysis are pretty rubbish, but at least they let you have your data for uploading to other apps.

      1. Sam Jelfs

        Re: Who Cares?

        @Headley_Grange - Thats one of the things I like best about Garmin, how easy it is to get your data "out". Automatic sync of data from Garmin to other sites, strava and FetchEveryone in my case, means I very rarely actually look at the garmin connect website. My O/H has a suunto, and has had quite a few issues getting it to talk nicely to others.

    3. NightFox

      Re: Who Cares?

      Yeah, always easy to be smug at times like this. So what is it that keeps you going during a run? I'm sure being an experienced runner you'll appreciate that motivation is a very personal thing, and for some it's just that prospect of getting home, uploading their run and looking at their stats and perhaps sharing them on Strava. It doesn't matter if that VO2Max, fitness age or ground contact time is of questionable accuracy or training value as long as it's a motivator.

      I suspect there's large number of people today who maybe started out with a fitness tracker just to track their daily steps and then got hooked into the whole fitness thing and are now leading much more healthy and active lives as a result of the technology who would otherwise just be sat watching Netflix.

      Of course it's easy to to be condescending and say "we didn't need this stuff in my day" and "the only motivation people should need is their own health" but that misses the point entirely. When I've still got another k to do, trying to convince myself that I'm actually getting fitter despite the fact I feel like my whole body is about to shut down doesn't hit the mark, but thinking ahead to seeing my efforts immortalised online with enough data to launch a lunar mission keeps me going. Yes, your motivation may be purer, but I'm still doing the miles and getting the same benefits as you.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Who Cares?

        The motivation thing is a double edged sword in my experience. I ran with a slight calf twinge last year cos I was in last day of the 5th month of a 6-month "up mileage" badge and needed a few more miles. As a result the twinge turned to injury and I didn't run for 4 months afterwards. I've now given up running for badges - although when I sneaked a look at the badge page the other day I did notice that I only need................

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Who Cares?

          I understand that Runners run because the love running. Joggers jog because we love cake.

          I like to use my Garmin to check the actual miles / kms I've run more accurately than I can manage with my car odometer, and to check my pulse. There are handy 'lap' marker facilities so I check my split times and other things. No, I don't need it to go for a run, but it is useful to check how much and how well I've been doing when training for a race.

    4. Dr. Vagmeister

      Re: Who Cares?

      I use my Garmin watch as it came with a heart rate monitor. Using Golden Cheetah, i can see the logs, and although the GPS is less accurate than a device with WAAS, the heart rate monitor does provide a useful metric.

      Hopefully this event will get Garmin et al to think about the ability to download the logs without the need for an internet connection.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Who Cares?

        @Dr V - have an upvote and a beer for the Golden Cheetah tip.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Attack surfaces

    I wonder how well the Garmin software handles a potentially malicious Garmin Connect server. Perhaps now would be a good time to uninstall that Garmin software on your computer if it comes with auto update functionality. Uninstalled here until further notice from Garmin itself.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Attack surfaces

      Good call. I disable auto-updates anyway, but after reading your post I've just re-set Little Snitch rules to ask me for any Garmin interconnects. Cheers.

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: Attack surfaces

        I’d be really surprised if the virus writers managed to write software to also infect Garmin customers via updating the connection software to the Garmin devices, I’d be even more surprised if they also wrote said software for the Mac.

        Viruses normally spread when computers have direct connectivity with each other (I accept the original virus may have arrived via email) and this virus seems to be concerned with encrypting stuff and making the business pay to unencrypt and stop rather than alter the target companies software updates.

        If this spreads to Garmin customers that’ll be a whole other terrifying story.

        Still I think your Mac is safe, for the moment.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: Attack surfaces

          @tip - I think you're right, but better safe than sorry in my view. I bet there are a lot of people at Garmin who were really surprised to find out that they'd suffered a ransomware attack.

    2. NightFox

      Re: Attack surfaces

      I've logged out of and killed my Garmin syncing apps not so much for this reason, but because of my lack of confidence in Garmin not to try and sync everything before they've restored their data and inadvertently wiping everyone's data.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be nice if my phone app still worked!

    The lesson of putting the cloud between your IoT and your App.

    Imagine this was your heating system. In winter.

    1. NightFox

      Been there, done that with Tado. Good system at the time and it certainly paid for itself, but whenever they experienced server issues the system would permanently send a demand for heat to the boiler with the TRVs staying fully open and the house just got hotter and hotter (arguably better than failing 'off' I guess). Happened in the middle of winter, and summer too.

    2. Swiss Anton

      Better still don't connect it to the internet, though there are some advantage to that.

      When I first read this story, I dug out my old (15+ years) Garmin Etrex GPS to see if it still worked. Amazingly it does, and it is at least 30m accurate; however there is a slight problem. Whilst I still have a cable to connect it to my computer, it needs to plug into an RS232 interface. My computer doesn't have one of these, but I'm sure I can get a RS323 USB adapter (the irony). If not, then there is always my Raspberry Pi - now there's an interesting project for the weekend.

  22. Tail Up

    Some Old But Good Maritime Tales

    OIT IN THE BLUE SEA, AMIDST THE WHITE HORSES

    Fancy the cartoon is comissioned by the USSR State Commitee of TV and Radio (and there's more to life from the Days of Tweeting Modem)

    https://youtu.be/TWxkS5Q19LU

    English subs are @ your disposal.

    (-:

  23. fronty

    Still down!

    Still borked!

  24. David Roberts

    Nice to have?

    I use a Garmin Edge Explore as a speedometer which records the details of a ride, and it is nice to be able to upload the details and view them on a web site. However this is nice but not essential.

    I also use it as a satellite navigation tool.

    Fortunately I can plan routes using other software, then load the routes directly onto the Edge Explore without needing any Garmin services.

    Sympathy for those who are reliant on the servers for day to day use (such as pilots) but not being able to update Strava instantly doesn't seem to be that major a problem. However I don't use Strava!

  25. MooseMonkey

    Not really a surprise...

    Considering that Garmin users have been subjected to years and years of bad releases to their devices, literally re-imposing bugs fixed two or three releases ago, I'm not surprised that their servers were a little bit open to the bad people. Garmin seem to think that they are a hardware company, and do not understand software as well as they should. I back up all of my garmin activities elsewhere, but it will still be a pain in the ass if all my history is gone from their site.

  26. DJohnson
    Alert

    Not all Garmin products are toys

    Avionics require regular updates of their local database to remain safe and certified, and I'm betting that this is either impacting the ability of users to download, or Garmin's ability to create and post the new updates. My 'smart watch' is basically a toy, and nobody cares if it's functions are limited for a (long?) time. But if my ${X} million dollar aircraft can't do its job I'm going to have my legal team re-check those Garmin contracts.

  27. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
    Pint

    Well.

    Could be worse.

    I wasn't able to get to the gym at all today.

    That's four years in a row!

  28. tip pc Silver badge

    Rides now syncing to Strava at at least

    My weekend rides uploaded from my edge this morning & synced to Strava.

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