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COVID-19: impacts on Shadow

COVID-19: impacts on Shadow

Tune in here to know the latest news about Shadow and the impact of COVID-19.

17 March 2020 ago

COVID-19 and the internet

In light of COVID-19, governments are following the advice of health officials by asking people to practice social distancing as a protective measure. 

This is having a big impact on daily life as we know it and is limiting activities to the confines of our home. With that, it comes to no surprise that streaming and Internet-based services now play an even more important role in our lives, promoting a significant uptick in use. 

The increased data consumption through streaming services has a big impact on the bandwidth and overall quality of said streaming platforms but is also a huge stress test for our local internet providers.

Shadow is no exception.

Latest updates

Everything you need to know will be explained below. As this situation with COVID-19 is constantly changing, we at Shadow want to be able to provide the most updated information on the status as it pertains to Shadow and you. We are aware that you will have many questions, so we will do our best to share real-time changes as soon as possible.

Friday July 3:

  • If you have any questions regarding your (pre-)order please contact our Help Center.
  • If you have a specific question about your situation, please contact our support team.
  • Weekly updates on the current status of pre-order activations can be found on our forum.
  • Weekly Discord updates no longer take place.

Friday April 24:

  • Due to a stabilization of the current situation (activation & peak time related issues) we will reduce our updates and only share news when needed.
  • Our weekly pre-order news announcements on Discord will continue every Thursday!

Tuesday April 21: 

  • Here it is, fresh and shiny - no we aren’t talking about the morning dew, but about the Additional Storage Management functionality! 
  • You can now add AND remove additional storage directly on your account page! Just go on the “Subscription and Billing” tab to adjust it to your needs. 
  • We thought you might have additional (wink, wink) questions, so we created a dedicated FAQ. Please check it out and read it thoroughly before sending a message to our support team!

Update Thursday April 17th:

  • Have a nice weekend!

Update Thursday April 16th:

  • We managed to catch up with Shadow activations in our Amsterdam datacenter. All users that ordered prior to February 19th with an April delivery date have been activated. 
  • The Paris datacenter is unfortunately a bit less stable since the impact of COVID-19. We are working on finding a balanced approach between activating new accounts and maintaining a good experience for current users.

Update Wednesday April 15th:

  • Activations for preordered additional storage are now over. 
  • Most of you have been activated. Again, remember to shut down Windows on your Shadow and reboot it in order to access your new storage (if not done already).
  • We ran into some issues for some activations. For those cases you will be contacted directly by support or via email to solve your issues. 
  • While we are exploring plans to accelerate activations, global activation rhythm is still slow. 
  • On another note, we are very proud to have provided 4000 safety masks to an hospital in the East of France, thanks to our Shadow Ghost provider.

Update Tuesday April 14th:

  • We are exploring ways to get more activations done this week. 
  • Activations for preordered additional storage started today for Paris and Amsterdam (complete). You must shut down Windows on your Shadow and reboot it in order to access your new storage.

Update Friday April 10th:

A bird chirped to us that the Easter egg could be additional storage space next week. Reminder: keep a close eye on your emails and our various channels from Tuesday next week!

Update Thursday April 9th:

Additional storage: more information in the coming days. Watch your emails and our upcoming announcements!

Update Wednesday April 8th: 

Activations are ongoing slowly but surely. We will keep a close eye on the load data.

Update Tuesday April 7th: 

No news, which is good news.

For more news, read below.

Update Monday April 6th:

  • Good news: our datacenters were stable over the weekend! 
  • As a consequence, we will slowly restart activations day-by-day this week in Paris and Amsterdam.
  • US activations are still ongoing slowly in order for us to keep the right balance between activations and the stability of our datacenters.

Update Friday April 3rd:

  • We will monitor the situation closely over the weekend before making decisions on activations. 
  • Have a nice weekend! 

Update: Thursday, April 2nd: 

  • We see a promising stabilization of our data centers’ overload during the week days. 
  • We will monitor the situation closely over the weekend before making decisions on activations.

Update: Wednesday, April 1st: 

  • We are monitoring the impact of the activation test closely. 
  • We are building a laser.

Update: Tuesday, March 31st:

  • Over the past weeks, we have monitored our datacenters on a daily basis to identify opportunities to reopen activations. 
  • After seeing a hopeful trend (within such a terrible situation), we decided to perform a test and activate a small group of users on Shadow Boost in Amsterdam today. We will closely monitor the impact of these activations, and based on the results, may activate more users within the week. 
  • Starting today in both our Paris and Amsterdam datacenters, our activation process will be stop-and-go, based on real-time data monitoring. 

Update: Monday, March 30th:

It’s been 2 weeks and we thought it would be good to start the week with an overview of key elements:

  • The confinement measures had a drastic impact on the use of Shadow across all countries (see update March 20th).
  • As a first consequence, we had to pause all activations on Shadow Boost to mitigate the situation. 
  • We also worked on and rolled out solutions to improve the situation even further: 
  1. Clarification of error messages linked to datacenter overload
  2. Temporary reduction of hibernation (30 minutes)
  3. New prioritization system to help you keep a place in the accessing queue
  4. Improvement of hardware electrical consumption (since this weekend)
  • First results are showing strong improvements in users' experience and Shadow accessibility
  • First batch of Shadow Ultra & Shadow Infinite activations have been completed in March. 
  • USA: we are still activating Shadow Boost - yet very slowly.

Update: Friday, March 27th:

  • We are working on more solutions and running new tests.

Update: Thursday, March 26th:

  • Shadow Boost activations are still on hold in the EU. 
  • Shadow Ultra and Infinite activations are on track. We solved most issues and are now on the last mile with 300 users left to activate. It will be done by Monday end of day. Thanks for your patience. We hope you enjoy the new configs! 
  • Extra storage activation has been delayed to mid April due so as to focus on managing the impact of confinement on users' experience.

Update: Wednesday, March 25th:

  • Since yesterday, we have implemented a new prioritization system to better manage the access to Shadow during peak time. 
  • How does it work? Basically, when you are trying to access your Shadow but our datacenters are running at full capacity, the system will give you priority for any freed spot as long as you try to reconnect within the next 10 minutes. 
  • So, if John tries to connect at 6:30pm and there's no spot available, he'll enter a queue:
  1. John gets "priority" for the next 10 minutes. If he tries to reconnect during this 10 minute window and still has no spot, he will keep his position in the queue.
  2. If John does not try to launch his Shadow again during the 10 minute window, he'll lose his position in the queue. 
  3. So, as long as John tries to connect every 10 minutes (or less), he'll keep his position in the queue.

Update: Tuesday, March 24th: 

  • We are testing some of our improvement solutions today. We will tell you more about it once we have more feedback and provide visibility on how it works after testing has been completed.

Update: Monday, March 23rd: 

  • With 100% of users in confinement, the Paris datacenter is the most impacted one. 
  • This weekend, due to even higher demand between 4pm and 8pm, some users had trouble accessing their Shadow. We had to limit capacity to meet our power contract and be able to serve everyone else. 
  • We are still working on solutions to solve this. News should come this week. 
  • The Amsterdam datacenter is not exceeding our limit yet, but we expect the change in confinement rules in Germany to impact it soon. 
  • Overall, GPUs are used more than they were before. Recent demanding games that you are probably playing even more than before might be the cause. Don’t forget our tips please! 
  • As we are migrating users from Shadow Boost datacenters (Paris/Amsterdam) to Shadow Ultra/Infinite datacenters, we hope to see improvement (freeing space, lowering power consumption).
  • However, activations of Shadow Boost are still drastically on hold in the EU and drastically slowed down in the US.

Update: Friday, March 20th: 

Some insights on how the confinement impacted Shadow usage:

  • +60% daily connection in France vs average and x2 more day sessions than usual 
  • +32% daily connection in UK vs average and +48% more day sessions than usual
  • +30% daily connection in Germany vs average and 46% more day sessions than usual
  •  In the US, the number of connections during the day (before 5PM) increased by 41% (yesterday vs average). 

Keep following our tips.Thanks #TeamShadow!

Last note: our support team might be longer than usual to answer due to a significant increase of contacts. Please remember to read this article on the most common issues to find the answers you might need! 

Update: Thursday, March 19th: 

  • Thanks to the actions we took over the past few days, we are seeing improvements in accessing Shadow since last night. A big thanks to you, #TeamShadow, for helping us out. Please continue to follow our tips! 
  • For all people that pre-ordered a Shadow Ghost, they are unfortunately still in lockdown in the factory in China. 
  • We are closing Shadow Ghost orders until further notice. 

Update: Wednesday, March 18th: 

  • We improved the L:201 / L:202 capacity overload error messages you may have encountered while trying to login. Learn more in our dedicated Help Center article.
  • On occasion, users are unable to access their Shadow. This is because we are over exceeding the amount of electrical power consumption authorized in contracts with our providers. We are working on a solution and will provide an update as soon as we have more information.
  • With Internet providers lowering their bandwidth cap due to the COVID-19 crisis, we expect a higher usage of Shadow, and thus an impact to your overall experience. In the meantime, we recommend you lower your bandwidth settings (30 Mb/s recommended) when using Shadow . 
  • Activation times in US datacenters are now slower compared to yesterday.  

Update: Tuesday, March 17th: 

  • Shadow BOOST activation in Paris and Amsterdam datacenters are drastically slowed down for the week to allow us to have more visibility on the situation
  • From today, any Shadow that is not used for 30 minutes in a row will be automatically shut down. Also, please think about turning your Shadow down when you don’t use it!
  • Under no circumstances use your Shadow to [email protected] We know it’s for a very good and necessary cause, but this would block Shadows for others to use. We, as a company, are looking how we could contribute to this project in the short term with our infra, when it’s not full, and will let the community know.
  • In further precautionary efforts, one of our datacenter partner has reduced their max capacity to better manage and optimize their overall electrical power surge during peak times.

What about Shadow?

Shadow, your favorite and most powerful computer in the cloud, is sadly no exception when it comes to the necessity of stable internet and an adequate bandwidth. 

This means that it cannot be ruled out that some issues may arise due to the unprecedented increase in workload. 

More than that and due to the fact of Shadow using a system of shared resources (which is not so far from the model your local gym is using) other issues can rise up from time to time. Shared resources is based on the theory that at no point will everyone with a Shadow subscription also use Shadow at the same time.

To still make sure that most of our hardware is being used and not just collecting dust, we onboard users up until an estimated threshold of concurrent users. This way Shadow is usable by everyone who wants to use it without any loss in experience.

An extraordinary but disruptive event like a pandemic will of course push this system to its limits. 

In our current situation, this means an increase in Shadowers wanting to use their Shadow at the same time. Just like in a gym, this can mean that all the machines and bar-bells are being used when you feel the sudden but strong urge to work on your biceps. 

To make it short, the increased interest in using internet based services, like Shadow, can lead to the following issues for you:

  • performance issues (like artifacts or a high-ping)
  • sudden log-offs from your Shadow
  • not being able to login, because all hardware is in use

What to do?

All of this doesn’t mean that you should relinquish using your Shadow, not at all. Na-ah. But you might want to make sure that you give everyone (including yourself) a good time with their Shadow.

How to do that? Well that’s actually quite simple:

  1. limit the allocated bandwidth of your Shadow to an acceptable amount
  2. only turn on your Shadow when you actually use it
  3. Turn off your Shadow when you are not using it anymore

What does Shadow do?

Of course we are not sitting idly by, with all of this but will try to give each and everyone of you access to your most precious hobby (let’s just assume it’s playing video games).

We are monitoring everything closely to let you know as fast as possible what the status in our data centers is. Speaking of status, our status page will be regularly updated to keep you informed: https://status.shadow.tech/ 

Sadly this increased usage also has an impact on our overall activation of Shadow Boost which will have to progress slower than hoped for. Otherwise there will only be more users queuing up for those dumb-bells. 

To make sure that those queues are not getting too long, while someone is not using their Shadow at all, we updated our hibernation policy exceptionally for this situation. Everyone not using their Shadow for a period of consecutive 30 min, will be logged off automatically.

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