Which Crypto Exchanges Have The Least Outages?
Share this article
May was a very dynamic month on the crypto market. There was lots of price movement, including the biggest historical daily slide. As usual many of the top crypto exchanges experienced breakdowns on days of especially dynamic market movement. While this is regretfully standard fare, it is still surprising major companies are unable to safeguard enough flexibility to weather such storms.
The breakdowns were highly frustrating for the crypto crowd, as exchange access in such critical moments can make the difference between a small loss and liquidation. However not all exchanges were unavailable to the same extent. We have looked which ones fared the best.
Crypto exchanges publicly disclose limited availability data. Thus their own reports need to be complemented by directed customer feedback. The best place to find it are websites dedicated to measuring availability - e.g. Down Detector. Its vast user base ensures website outages will not go unnoticed.
Our main point of interest has been the 19th of May - the day Bitcoin plummeted to a historical extent, pulling down the whole crypto market. During the sudden meltdown numerous users were striving to conduct transactions. It was no easy moment for any network - Ethereum fees reached 1000 gwei which is a hundred times more than now. Still, you might say such peak interest periods are the true test of exchanges‘ resilience availability.
Here is the rundown of the May performance of the biggest exchanges, ranked by availability:
While Bitfinex has been seemingly mired in controversy since its founding and later with Tether, it has a reputation for being always available. While the „always“ should not be taken literally. Its Down Detector May report is clean and its own status report lists one issue on May 17th. While the market was already in a downward trend on that day, the exchange deserves credit for sustained performance in periods of highest traffic.
While Kraken is in itself a solid exchange, its users have by now gotten used to outages in times of extremely high traffic. May was no exception, with the exchange becoming impossible to access and trade on the 19th. Down Detector lists the 10th and the 19th of May as two days with significant user complaints. While Kraken should have been better prepared for the incoming traffic, it has a solid status page including detailed availability and a historical issue rundown. This provides at least some guidance regarding outage duration.
While all the other exchanges on this list offer status pages giving insight into outages the Binance approach is very different. It focuses on social media using them to inform its users about issues and countermeasures. Its messages are amplified by those of its founder, the notorious CZ, who often personally provides guidance. According to Down Detector the Binance outages in May were concurrent to Kraken. While social media is a far more effective channel than an obscure blog page, they do not provide the same information depth. Kraken users can see real time availability and past incident history, which to our mind pushes the exchange above Binance in terms of availability issue responses.
It might be somewhat surprising to see a $100b company struggle with availability. While Coinbase has a proper status page, its Down Detector report shows numerous issues throughout the whole month of May. The outages coincide with scheduled Coinbase maintenance. However an improperly communicated maintenance period if for all intents purposes an outage for their customers. While the exchange has long been the corporate platform of choice, it stands to improve its availability for the average Joes.
Whereas availability is important, you should not use it as the only argument where to trade. Even with perfect exchange availability it would be ambitious to assume you can always react to price movements in real time. Sometimes life trumps crypto, so a prudent approach would be to prepare for market movements which you cannot react to in real time. Limit orders are a possible answer. They can limit price risk, ensure profit-taking or set a dip level to buy up. While they might reduce upside, containing the downside might be a prize worth the hassle.