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What to Make of the Continued Solana Network Outages

Same story, different day?

Users expressed their displeasure as the Solana blockchain platform went through yet another outage earlier this month, making it the 7th time in 2022 and the 12th time in the past 11 months. They are worried about how the Solana team is maintaining the platform. They also want to be sure that the Solana network is truly decentralized.

The network suffered a seven-hour outage which was reportedly caused by an overflow of transactions from non-fungible tokens (NFT) mining bots. The mining bots were responsible for up to four million transactions which were consistently sent at more than 100 gigabits of data per second. Inevitably, this made it extremely hard for new blocks to be registered on the platform. Validators were only able to restart the network after 7 hours.

A few minutes after the network was restarted, the source of the mining bots was identified. The bots were trying to mine Candy Machine, a Solana NFT collection created by Metaplex. The company, on its Twitter page, claimed that the Solana outage was only partially caused by its platform. They also indicated that onwards, a 0.01 SOL ($0.0026) fine would be charged on any wallet that attempts to complete an invalid transaction which was what the bots were trying to do.

Will the frequent outages eventually doom Solana?

Outages Becoming a Frequent Occurrence

A similar outage happened in September 2021, when the whole Solana network was down for 17 hours. The system blackout kept $11 billion of investors’ money locked down for those hours as no transaction could be carried out on the platform. After an investigative report from Solana, they identified the cause of the stall as resource exhaustion that was caused by an overflow of transactions by bots on Radium, a DEX project hosted on the Solana Network.

The next outage occurred a few months later on the 9th of December. The network was under a DDoS attack from the Blockasset NFT marketplace which was built on it. Although the attack caused an overload of the network, users could still send or receive Solana. The only effect was that there was a drop in the Solana transaction speed. The transaction speed averaged 900 transactions per second (TPS), which was quite a drop from the original 65,000TPS. The issue was later resolved 6 hours later.

A few days later, Solana experienced congestion issues again, and to deal with the technical difficulties, Binance had to pause withdrawals from time to time to reduce the overflow of transactions.

Barely a few days into 2022, the Solana network experienced another DDoS attack. According to Colin Wu, the attack which spanned 4 hours, was caused by a hacker, who spammed the network to conduct the attack. 17 days later, another outage was reported on the Solana status page. This one was caused yet again by excessive duplicate transactions from bots. The outage went on for about 48 hours before it was resolved.

How Has SOL Been Impacted?

During the September 2021 outage, SOL crashed 5.08% which caused the price to drop from $171.48 to $142.86. The second major outage which occurred in December caused a 7.5% loss in just 24 hours which was a record-breaking decline among the largest cryptocurrencies by capitalization at that time.

According to CoinGecko, In January 2022, SOL lost about 35% of its value in a week. Solana has dropped a lot loss from its all-time peak of $259 which was recorded in November 2021.

The most recent outage between April 30 and May 1 caused a drop in the SOL price from $97.97 to $85.02, which is a relatively small decrease.

Of course since then the entire crypto market has crashed due to the UST de-peg and SOL is now trading at roughly $50 but that’s unrelated to the network outages.

How Do the Users Feel?

There are a lot of mixed feelings from the crypto community regarding these events. Some are fearful that these occurrences could gradually lead to the end of the blockchain and others think the team needs to make upgrades to stop more attacks from happening in the future.

A Twitter user added that indicated that the Solana network’s inability to scale under pressure is due to its immaturity. This indicates that we still have a long way to go till the full adoption of blockchain technologies. Some also claim that the network has sacrificed full decentralization for transaction speed, as the lack of decentralization is one of the major reasons for the blackouts.

However, some users are optimistic. They believe that the issues are fully acknowledged by the Solana developer team and fixes are in the pipeline. A Redditor suggested that the network should increase the numbers of its validators as that would help them cope with a sudden huge increase in transaction volumes.

Others point to the fact that networks like Ethereum went through serious growing pains in their first years of existence and Solana is still extremely young comparatively.

It’s worth noting that Solana operates at a much higher speed than many popular blockchains so there are new challenges when developing on the network.

Conclusion: Still Time for Solana to Improve

Solana is one of the most promising crypto projects and has a chance to become a major leader in the industry. Although all projects have their problems, more should be done by the Solana team to ensure that such outages do not repeat themselves.

This is the only way that it can regain the trust of its current users and ensure the continual growth of the platform.

On one hand a certain amount of users seem to understand that Solana is still in a self-proclaimed “beta” but others seem to be running out of patience. The price seemingly hasn’t taken a huge hit from the outages specifically (although it remains to be seen what the new crypto landscape will be after the Terra debacle) but eventually users will demand a reliable, always-on blockchain.

Written by Isaac Ojo

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