Pokemon Go's monumental success is being blighted by server problems. It's been widely reported, right from the start, that the servers weren't quite up to the job of hosting the game, because it was so popular.
But what do all these server problems mean for the game? What should you do when Pokemon Go has server problems? How will you know if Pokemon Go has stopped working?
Pokemon Go: What is a server?
Let's start at the beginning. Everything you do online relies on servers: they are the computers or the programs that manage and host the information that all online services need.
This website has servers, Gmail has servers, Netflix has servers and Pokemon Go has servers. You connect to these servers to send and receive information through the Pokemon Go app using the data connection on your phone.
What are the Pokemon Go servers?
The Pokemon Go servers are essential because they contain and coordinate the information that the app on your phone needs. When the app talks to the servers, there will be an exchange of information so that your app is in synchronisation with the game and everyone else is in sync with the game.
For example, if team Valour loses a gym, every Pokemon Go player in the area will know that, because the information is synced to the servers and all the apps are updated.
As you move around the game, your phone is constantly syncing with the servers. It's this that uses the data allowance on your phone and this, sadly, that keeps failing.
Why do the Pokemon Go servers keep failing?
Servers fail for a number of reasons. In the case of Pokemon Go, high demand is likely to be the cause. When a server or servers can't deal with the number of requests for information, the app doesn't get a response and the game stops.
High demand can usually be dealt with by adding more servers, something that Niantic Labs is almost certainly doing. You'll sometimes find that the game is a little slower, and this is almost certainly due to increased server demand.
In the case of Pokemon Go over the weekend of 16/17 July, there was also reports of a DDoS attack. In this type of deliberate attack a server is bombarded with requests so that it can't respond and the server then fails and no one can get in.
Pokemon Go did confirm there were server problems on Saturday 16 July, posting on Twitter.
Trainers! We have been working to fix the #PokemonGO server issues. Thank you for your patience. We'll post an update soon.— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) July 16, 2016
The issues causing the server problems have been identified. Trainers should once again be able to search for Pokémon in the real world.— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) July 17, 2016
What happens when the Pokemon Go servers fail?
There are lots of different results of the Pokemon Go servers failing. Here's a few ways you'll be able to tell if there's a server problem from the Pokemon Go app, running from the least serious to the most significant.
- The app is slow, with the spinning Poke Ball sync indicator in the top left-hand corner appearing regularly
- The Pokemon Go app says "error" in a banner across the top
- PokeStops appear empty, with no picture or items to collect
- You can't access a PokeStop, or it says "try again later" when you've not collected from it
- The game freezes mid-capture of a Pokemon
- The game freezes mid-battle
- You can't open the Pokemon Go app
- The Pokemon Go app says log-in failed, or that your username wasn't recognised
For number 1 above, that sync indicator is pretty common, but can appear with very little impact on the game. If something isn't happening and that sync symbol appears, you know it's struggling to talk to the servers.
For the most serious stuff in numbers 4 and 5, this is likely caused because the information generated in a capture or battle is more significant. The app can crash when it's expecting to update information and it doesn't happen - you'll have to restart the app.
For points 6 and 7, this suggests that your app isn't getting any response at all. Often in times of high server load, those who are in the game will stay in the game, those outside the game won't be able to get in. Don't worry about the username not being recognised: once the server responds again, it will be recognised.
How can I check the Pokemon Go server status?
Some organisations provide status webpages so you can easily check if there are problems and hopefully Niantic Labs will offer something for Pokemon Go soon.
However, there are a number of websites you can use to check the status of servers, such as Down Detector, which has a specific Pokemon Go map. We can't guarantee that this is accurate, but it's worth a check - and this is what it looks like.
What should I do when the Pokemon Go server fails?
There's a whole range of things you can try and we've covered those in detail in our feature on Pokemon Go problems.
Hopefully this information helps through trying to figure out what all the Pokemon Go server issues are about!
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