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And now for some good news... Remember when the Internet hiccuped? Here's what happened

You may be forgiven for not remembering that earlier this year, the Internet stumbled for a day. Did you notice it? Probably not — most people didn't. Here's what happened.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
Image: ZDNet

You know it's going to be a bad day when your Internet grinds to a halt. 

But when the entirety of the Internet starts to misbehave, that's another story altogether. In mid-August, the Internet did exactly that, it began to slow — ever so slightly — because some older networking gear ran out of memory.

The routers that keep track of the many ways in which data can flow through the pipes of the Internet, known as routing tables, reached a total of 524,288. That's just a couple of hundred over the maximum routing tables of 524,000 entries.

It's like the "Y2K" of the Internet, except with greater consequences. The routers that hit that memory limit could slow down to a snail's pace, lose data, or crash.

The trouble is for many Internet providers, they knew as early as May, but didn't do anything. Doing something would've admitted that they were running older technology when really they should have kept ahead of the curve.

The slowdown was a wake-up call. As ZDNet's Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols described it: "Lucky us. We got there early."

Thankfully, the Internet didn't completely melt down. It just slowed ever so slightly for the day.

Known now in hindsight as "512 Day," there were major problems expected later that week. But what happened? Very little. In fact we didn't really hear of it again. All it took was, for many, changing the default configuration for affected devices, a push of the "reset" button, and almost everything would be back to normal. 

Read more: Internet hiccups today? You're not alone. Here's why

What's the best news you've heard all year? We're counting down our favorite, uplifting, good news stories of 2014. Next one lands Monday, 8am ET (1pm GMT).

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