back to article Ring, Ring, why don't you give me a call? Amazon-owned doorbells aren’t answering after large-scale outage

Ring is suffering a major outage with many of its video doorbells effectively dead, turning smart homes into very dumb ones. The issue started just after 9am PST on Wednesday with users reporting that they were unable to see any live video feeds from their devices. Integration with smart assistants also fell over, in what's …

  1. Tom Chiverton 1
    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      This is awful!

      How is Google supposed to collect data and metadata about you without even noticing or caring if the bloody collection devices break down.

      Will nobody think of the algorithms and the ad-providers?

      1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: This is awful!

        Just checked. My $25 hardwired doorbell from a big-box home store continues to work perfectly.

  2. Forget It
    Joke

    Knock Knock

    then

    1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      Re: Knock Knock

      Who's there?

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

        Re: Knock Knock

        No snooping

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Knock Knock

        Avon lady. Your doorbell is bust

        1. Efer Brick

          Re: Knock Knock

          fnarr fnarr

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Who's there?

        Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.

  3. doublelayer Silver badge

    Connect to the internet, don't rely on it

    This is the reason, as if we didn't know already, why electronics given a network connection should have offline local management. From the sound of it, users can't do anything with these doorbells, even if they're right next to them. An acceptable system would have a backup or primary communication option which didn't require the remote servers to work. Connecting something like this to the internet isn't always a bad thing (although this is Ring, so everything related to it is a bad thing), but relying on equipment which breaks when a system not under your control goes down is always a problem.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Connect to the internet, don't rely on it

      You're making the assumption that these products are designed to fill a need, whereas in reality they're designed to generate revenue under cover of some vaguely plausible claim to be filling a need.

      See also under sharing data from your device with law enforcement without your permission.

      It's really not in Amazon's interest to make a device that works offline and very few people are going to pay a significantly larger entry cost for a device that isn't subsidised by ongoing service fees.

    2. Woodnag Silver badge

      Online only? That's the idea...

      If Ring could be used standalone, then there needn't be a subscription service. Wouldn't want that, would we?

      1. sgp Bronze badge

        Re: Online only? That's the idea...

        I just had a brilliant idea. A non-internet connected door notification device. I shall name it simply "Bell®️"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Online only? That's the idea...

          A bell?

          Our Ring doorbell sits a few inches from a brass knocker - part of our door notification continuity plan.

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: Online only? That's the idea...

            Just a word of warning - don't all rush out to a knocking shop looking to buy a knocker

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Online only? That's the idea...

              I entered "Knockers" into Google. I really should not have done that at work. Now the emails are flying and the tribunal is assembling.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Online only? That's the idea...

                What knockers!

                1. arachnoid2 Bronze badge

                  What knockers!

                  Friends will never be the same........

            2. ICPurvis47
              Happy

              Re: Knockers

              The first time I travelled over to Llynclys to view my prospective rented bungalow, I passed through the village of Knockin, Shropshire. I almost crashed the car laughing, there at the side of the road was a building displaying a signboard that proclaimed it to be "The Knockin Shop". Some years later, the shop closed and was empty for a while, but now it is open again, but I do not know whether it is still using the same business name, note to self, must go and check sometime.

          2. CuChulainn

            Re: Online only? That's the idea...

            And isn't annoying when people turn up and use the knocker anyway?

            Our Ring is just 'the doorbell' (plus a couple of Chimes - one upstairs, one downstairs). We don't have a knocker or any other non-IoT doorbell, but I reckon that about 80% of callers physically knock on the door instead of pressing the bloody bell-push. And it's not like you can miss a Ring doorbell - they're about the size of a Nokia 3310.

            I know they're there because of the proximity warning. The problem is that the local cats can trigger an identical warning, though none of them have - as yet to my knowledge - mastered pressing the button. I just wish the postman could best the moggies and do so in order to differentiate himself.

            1. sabroni Silver badge

              Re: I just wish the postman could best the moggies

              Maybe postie doesn't like being followed around their route by Amazon? Is their privacy even mentioned in your Ts&Cs? Having to deliver something to your house means Amazon should get a look at them, yeah?

              Fuck that.

              1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
                Pirate

                Re: I just wish the postman could best the moggies

                Maybe your postman is aware that the doorbell button is unlikely to be sanitised, yet is touched by lots of people on a regular basis.

                Knocking on a random part of your door is far less likely to contact something contaminated.

              2. CuChulainn

                Re: I just wish the postman could best the moggies

                Some of you people really, REALLY do need to get a room or something!

                It was only jesting in the first place, but since you raise it, you people have simply got to get over this childish idea that a video camera steals your soul or makes you infertile or something.

                The postie is on camera whether he likes it or not, because he's on MY property. And he was before the pandemic, so claiming 'sanitary reasons' (another comment) for knocking is an even bigger joke - especially since he's knocking where everyone else does on the door in the jocular scenario I posited.

                1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

                  Re: I just wish the postman could best the moggies

                  He was not however on Amazon's server and being subjected to facial recognition against Facebook's image database and goodness' knows what else. And quite possibly flagged as a "person of interest" by the police because automatic algorithms used on the CCTV database has identified him as being at or near the location of almost every crime in the district ...

                  1. CuChulainn

                    Re: I just wish the postman could best the moggies

                    Are you absolutely certain that you're not getting Rings in the UK mixed up with ones in North America, where that option is available?

                    As for the rest of what you said, I refer to my earlier comment about getting a room.

                    1. sabroni Silver badge

                      Re: I refer to my earlier comment about getting a room.

                      If you mean "fuck off" say "fuck off".

                      "get a room" means "you people are making out too enthusiastically for this place".

                      Or am I missing the sexual tension?

                2. Wellyboot Silver badge

                  Re: I just wish the postman could best the moggies

                  >>>video camera steals your soul or makes you infertile<<<

                  Shush - You'll have the 5G nutters turning up! :^}

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I just wish the postman could best the moggies

                  I've been avoiding doorbells, and knocking randomly on doors if I have to for over 30 years.

                  - People are dirty buggers.

                  - Germs existed before covid.

                  - So did sanitary princjples

            2. David 140

              Re: Online only? That's the idea...

              Our Postie always rings the bell and knocks at the same time. I asked him why, and he said that it probably saves him an hour per day in waiting for people to answer broken doorbells...

              1. Wayland Bronze badge

                Re: Online only? That's the idea...

                Yeah, we have three door bells and postie presses all of them as well as knock.

            3. 2+2=5 Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Online only? That's the idea...

              > And isn't annoying when people turn up and use the knocker anyway?

              Confuse them by connecting your door knocker to the bell so that as they lift it to knock, the bell rings.

              For extra points, connect the bell to the knocker so that when they press the bell, the knocker knocks itself.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Online only? That's the idea...

              "The problem is that the local cats can trigger an identical warning, though none of them have - as yet to my knowledge - mastered pressing the button."

              My system uses an IR "broken" beam system across the approach to the door to alert me to small postal deliveries. It is high enough so that cats or foxes don't trigger it.

              An Arduino system turns the IR beam signal into a ding-dong chime for the 433mHz chime receivers dotted round my large house - and a portable one for the garden. The door push-button activates a traditional wired chime - but also triggers an overriding Westminster chime on all the 433mHz units. There is even one outside the front door to give a sound confirmation to the caller.

              Both chime signals repeat - twice for the IR beam - five times for the door push-button. That avoids the "was that my door chime?" when you are busy doing something. A magnetic switch on the front door inhibits the repeats when the door is open.

              When expecting a package delivery I put an A5 day-glo card on the door to remind people to use the bell. In lockdown the usual delivery drivers know the proximity ding-dong - and assume I will then come to the door without them touching the push-button.

        2. Efer Brick

          Re: Online only? That's the idea...

          You're onto something, I think you should knock on some doors and see who answers

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Connect to the internet, don't rely on it

      Perfect comment title is perfect.

    4. Casual Observer

      Re: Connect to the internet, don't rely on it

      That's one reason why when it comes to heating controls Honeywell's EVOHOME system is far better than NEST or HIVE. It has full local control with the option to connect to the Internet if you want remote control of your heating. It is also a fundamentally better CH control system.

  4. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Hurr de durr gurpity der durr

    BORK!!! BORK!!! BORK!!!

    1. Woodnag Silver badge

      Thank you for your valuable contribution.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        We strive to displease and waste bandwidth.

        On a scale of 1 to 10, how was your experience with us? 1 is bad and 10 is worse.

        Thank you for allowing us to waste some more of your valuable time :)

        1. Wayland Bronze badge

          On the subject of customer surveys who's had one from the Hospital A&E department?

          "Regarding your recent visit to Colchester A&E how would you rate your experience?

          Bad, OK, Excellent

          How likely are you to visit A&E again?

          Not likely, Likely, Certainly.

          Would you recommend A&E to your friends and family?

          Yes, No."

          Seriously, I had one of these.

          1. Radio Wales
            Happy

            Cut and come again?

            A & E visit satisfaction survey.

            Yes. I enjoyed the attention and abundant supply of nurses and painkillers so much that your excellent facility is marked down in my diary for a regular monthly visit.

      2. Efer Brick

        You're new here, right?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am upset that this will reduce the number of videos of dancing amazon delivery drivers from ring.com videos killing two birds with one stone. I guess I will just have to make do with pictures of McDonalds restaurants forced to comply with local regulations that look really cute or pictures of Starbucks coffee baristas really bad spelling of names. Thank you internet 2021 for keeping me entertained. Oh look a cute cat knocking over a can of coke.

  6. ecofeco Silver badge

    Cloud!

    For the win! Again.

  7. Tam Lin

    My Ring works fine ...

    ... only because it's able to Ring the extant physical doorbell chime.

    The Ring itself? It does not ring phone or tablets when pressed; instead, it bunches up all the rings and person-nearby notifications and spits them all out in two, maybe three bunches of a couple dozen per week. The dog has learned that a Ring phone-spew is nothing she needs to concern herself with, and I presume crooks have learned that Ring-equipped homes are full of equally ill-advised purchases of unfenceable Amazon crap.

  8. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4

    Smart home?

    I'd rather have a smart homeowner.

    Defined as one who doesn't install Internet Of Shit devices in their dwelling.

    1. AdmiralE

      Re: Smart home?

      Life isn't one-size-fits-all. Some of us do need and use the smart-home devices. The Ring proximity alerts allow me time to get to the door in my wheelchair before someone gives up waiting and leaves. Ring cameras allow me to see outside when I dont want to leave my hospital bed to go to a window. They also allow me to talk to people outside, like on an intercom. My Alexa compatible lights even allow me to use my voice to control lighting instead of trying to swing at switches from my chair. I have an Echo in every room and use my voice to control all of my home's lighting, temperature, humidity, security, exterior lighting, and music. It seems pretty smart to me.

      1. 0laf Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Smart home?

        Isn't it unacceptable that you need to surrender your privacy in order to access the technologies that can make your life easier at a reasonable cost?

        Surely that is discrimination.

      2. arachnoid2 Bronze badge

        Re: Smart home?

        Yes for locally controlled devices like bulbs and switches its a boon ,but again there are similar such devices that need an internet connection to communicate with a foreign server before they will turn your light off.

        Also try talking to she who should be named when she has no wifi connection " Sorry I cant do that Dave".

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Smart home?

        Devices that allow you to do what you describe, without relying on Stuff Somewhere On The Internet, are available. You just have to look past the Amazon and Google offerings.

      4. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Smart home?

        Exactly. In my case the front door is within 2m of the pavement. Having an external camera/bell means that I have some visual control of space so that no one decides to nip through and smash their way in. It also means that I can speak to a delivery person before they dump/ not deliver a parcel and b****r off without waiting the few moments for me to get to the door. Or at least see where the parcel is.

        And if it isn't online, they can still just knock on the window.

        A friend is in a wheel chair. Her use case is the same as yours.

        1. jtaylor Bronze badge

          Re: Smart home?

          Yup, smart doorbells can really help with accessibility.

          I know a couple where one works and the other stays home. The one at home is blind. When someone rings their bell, it pops up on the phone of the sighted person. They can see what's going on, talk with the package delivery person, text their partner, whatever.

          When I ring the bell, I also call out "Hey, Joe!" because he knows me and my voice and can decide directly whether to answer the door. Also, their dog.

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: "Hey, Joe!"

            So long as that's not a cue for him to get his gun out to shoot his old lady with.

      5. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: Smart home?

        I'm amazed that a Reg reader does not know about home automation that does not pass everything through "The Cloud". It's a case of having a server at home rather than using amazon's. Unifi have a suitable door bell with a camera.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smart home?

        That's ok.

        I like seeing who is at your door as well.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Backend systems for a door bell

    What could go wrong?

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Backend systems for a door bell

      Is the back-end system for a door bell called a bell-end?

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Backend systems for a door bell

        Yes, but before checking the bell-end, make sure that your ring-piece is OK.

  10. AdmiralE

    Ring Still Not Ringing

    Amazon is reporting that the Ring issue is resolved. It is 9:33 PM Eastern and I assure you the issue is NOT resolved here.

    1. pavel.petrman

      Re: Ring Still Not Ringing

      I do hope you and others have taken the hint!

  11. Piro

    I know nobody reading El Reg would buy such crap...

    .. But for all the people that would consider such utter tat, just stop it.

    You're helping to fill the market with utter rubbish, and then literal landfills with e-waste, when these pointless items are no longer supported.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: I know nobody reading El Reg would buy such crap...

      Reading the comments it seems plenty of readers are into this crap. I expect they bought Samsung TVs for their ability to play YouTube videos too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I know nobody reading El Reg would buy such crap...

      Isn't that the point of this story, that they are unsupported... they just forgot to tell the end users first!

  12. Sceptic Tank Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    Nobody saw this coming.

    Eek! This is what he's up to: Bezos is setting in motion his plan to take over the world. First they took out the doorbells.

  13. Totally not a Cylon
    Mushroom

    Ring was good at first.

    When it was first launched the Ring was good; it was just a video doorbell with cloud storage which stored your videos FREE for a short time.

    When the makers sold out to Amazon it went downhill fast.

    I know have another video doorbell, actually uses ethernet instead of wifi.....and local storage.

    But despite it being a very obvious black doorbell on a white door and frame the local delivery people still insist on knocking on the door or even funnier trying the door handle and then moaning about people locking doors!....

    Icon for what needs to happen to small companies who sellout to big companies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ring was good at first.

      "people still insist on knocking on the door

      I have an A5 day-glo card that I stick temporarily on the door with Scotch Magic Tape. It says "Delivery Expected - please ring the bell". I only put it there when expecting a delivery requiring opening the door.

      It is currently supplemented by a small card showing the day of the week. This tells various neighbours that I was alive that morning. Otherwise they kept ringing the bell in lockdown to make sure I was ok.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: a small card showing the day of the week.

        In my neighbourhood it would need to show the month and year as well.

  14. hoola Silver badge

    Cool Idea.....

    Here is a thought, maybe someone could come up with some sort of knocking device that was attached to the door. A small hammer, possibly on a pivot and a plate of metal so that it made a sharper noise.

    Alternatively a high-tech approach could be to have a battery, button, a bit of dual-core wire and then some sort of noise making device. I don't know, maybe a dome shaped bell with a small striker that rotated with the button was pressed, or an electromagnet then when activated hit a chime bar.

    Maybe I should look at patenting these ideas for a reliable door alert system that does not require an Internet connection to work.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: Cool Idea.....

      Maybe the two wire system with a button could operate some sort of electromagnet hammer that hit a bell. Heck if the hammer was sprung loaded it could hit another bell on it's return when the user released the button. The first bell could have a higher tone than the 2nd. Ding Dong maybe. Perhaps this might even become part of the culture "Ding Dong, Amazon Calling"

  15. Christoph

    Why connect to the internet at all for something that must work reliably locally, and which has confidential information that you don't want Bezos or Zuckerberg to see?

    Much the same functionality could be created in local kit, probably run off a Pi. Video storage? Terabytes are cheap these days.

    The only need for connection is if you want (by your choice) to let PC Plod see the video feed, or if you want to connect via your phone when on holiday.

  16. Nick Pettefar

    WUUK

    I use the WUUK doorbell thingy and I love not having to check the doors for parcels and the external letterbox (Irish rental house!) each morning and afternoon. Now I know if someone approaches the house up the drive. And yes, we also have a “normal” doorbell for them to have a go at if they want. WUUK is an Indiegogo thingy. It’s missing an upstairs repeater but it rings on all my iDevs so it’s mostly forgiven. There’s a free cloud storage but you can also just use an SD card. Also it’s CHEAP!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this is why

    "cloud" stuff isn't a good idea - an outage halfway around the world, or even a block away, means your local stuff doesn't work. There's no excuse whatsoever for the data here to be transmitted outside the home, much less rely on an internet connection for basic functionality.

    Like Office 365 - if Microsoft HQ has a problem, my copy of Excel won't work??? LibreOffice doesn't have that level of bork.

  18. Terry 6 Silver badge

    OTOH

    Is there anyway I could connect Ring to my newly injected microchip - save me checking my mobile?

  19. Richard Pennington 1
    Boffin

    Do not ask for whom the Ring rings ...

    ... it rings for you.

    (Because no man is an island).

  20. J. Cook Silver badge

    Heh.

    I've been looking into finally getting a setup for home automation that allows for voice control that is not Alexa or google, and can be run almost entirely offline.

    They don't exactly exist in a single, unified commercial product. the phrase "some assembly required" comes to mind.

    The best I've found is a multiple box setup:

    Hubitat- automation hub, has hooks for Zigbee, Z-wave, and has a decent amount of community support for getting brand P's lights to work with, say, brand X's control buttons. the box is ~$150 USD

    Mycroft - open source voice assistant. I haven't looked into if you need a box running the full kit for each room, or if you can put a skinny client with mics in each room ala Echo Dot and have all the processing done on a central server, obstinately sitting next to the Hubitat box. RUmor has it that it'll run on a Pi4, but you'd probably want something with slightly more grunt, like a NUC or a low end PC.

    Also, you'll need to futz, fight, and struggle to get everything working together, because even with the APIs and other plugins, nothing ever works quite the way you want it to.

    for capturing video from a ring-esque doorbell? I have no idea, but there's probably a DVR module that can interface with Hubitat or some other open source DVR.

  21. Simulacra75

    Escalator/Elevator Rule

    Have a few bits and bobs "automated" at home, no Ring doorbell though. Whenever I'm setting something up I always try and think of the Escalator/Elevator rule.

    If an escalator is broken, you can still go up and down the stairs, not so much with an elevator, so any lights/blinds, etc I've setup, they work via a hard switch, in case online stuff is inaccessible.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Escalator/Elevator Rule

      A lot of programmers and product designers are incapable of designing error situations into their products. I don't know why because abnormal operation is one of those "bleedin' obvious" things --- stuff breaks, communication links fail, its just a fact of life. I've also got a handful of these smart plugs, they're used mainly for turning off lights and the like I may have forgotten before going to bed.

      I'm used to industrial automation kit so if I'm doing anything at home I expect a least the same capabiltieis and reliability. Especially as this stuff's been around for decades.

  22. Ben 56

    El Reg knows Ring has failed before

    "As far as we are aware, it has never suffered a system-wide failure"

    That's bull. It happened 2 months ago for about 8 to 12 hours across the UK and parts of the US caused by a larger AWS authentication outage that hit other services.

    I made the Reg aware via submit news and I know other people did in comments on an unrelated/promo Amazon/Ring news item during the day

  23. adam 40 Bronze badge
    Happy

    So their Ring is Broken

    ... and their Backend is shafted.

  24. ITMA

    What is the real product?

    Ring, and similar devices, seem to me to be the hardware equivalent of "social media".

    The "product" is not quite what it appears or what people generally think. With "social media" the product is "you" and your data

    With Ring the product they are selling is NOT the doorbell. The hardware is merely the offer they initially sell to get you to buy the real product they want to sell - the subscription service without which the device is pretty useless.

    I've looked at "video doorbells" several times for the delivery entrance for one of our sites. The killer has always been they all need a subscription to work which I just won't accept.

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