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Garmin down: What we know about the fitness app outage — and what you can do

Garmin Approach S62 review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Garmin is bringing its fitness services back online after they went down last week during a problem attributed to an IT outage. However, the issue may also be related to a cyber attack. 

Users of Garmin devices will start to notice that their workouts are not getting synced again with the Garmin Connect app. While that data hasn't been updated since Friday, it may not have been lost. And that data should also sync with third-party fitness apps, such as Strava, though the large volume of data that’s been delayed might mean it’ll take a week or so to appear in its service. 

As it stands, Garmin Connect’s system status is set to “limited” as is the ConnectIQ service, but others such as Garmin Drive and Garmin Golf are fully online. And features such as Challenges & Connections and Courses are also limited, while the activity tracking and uploading of data are back online. 

In short, like a runner with a strained hamstring, Gamin’s services are limping back online. But we still don’t know for sure what actually caused the outage. Here’s what we know so far.

Garmin down: what happened? 

On July 23 Garmin tweeted that it was suffering from “an outage” that affects the Garmin Connect service and as a result, the website and app were down. Furthermore, the outage affected the company’s call centers, making it very difficult for users to find out why their activity data may not be getting logged by their Garmin devices. 

“Garmin is currently experiencing an outage that affects Garmin services including Garmin Connect. As a result of the outage, some features and services across these platforms are unavailable to customers,” the company said on its site. “Additionally, our product support call centers are affected by the outage and as a result, we are currently unable to receive any calls, emails or online chats.” 

But the outage has lasted several days, with services only really coming back July 27. As such, it appeared that more was afoot than a simple IT outage. 

Cyber security site BleepingComputer reported that it has sources with first-hand experience of the outage claiming the problems were all down to a ransomware attack that had locked parts of Garmin’s systems. Screenshots reportedly shared by Garmin employees show system files have been locked under the name “GarminWasted.”  

BleepingComputer has posited that the culprit behind the file locking is the WastedLocker ransomware. Security company Malwarebytes has attributed WastedLocker to the Evil Corp group of hackers, who use ransomware to extort money out of their targets in exchange for unlocking their files. 

And WastedLocker isn’t some random ransomware. Rather it can be configured to attack specific organisations, which would indicate this alleged cyber attack on Garmin was planned.  

Garmin has yet to comment on the claims that it was subject to a cyber attack. But ZDnet reported that Taiwanese tech outlet iThorne has claimed that a memo was sent to Garmin’s Taiwanese production facilities noting that the company’s server and data centers had been attacked. It also claimed that production of Garmin devices would need to be stopped for two days as IT maintenance took place. 

This maintenance is likely to be the restoration of any system data from offline backup Garmin could have in order to preserve its data. That can take time, which might explain the delay in getting Garmin services back online. But there's no report that Garmin does indeed have such a backup system. 

Or it could be that Garmin is trying to crack its way past the ransomware; we suspect it's not about to pay the cyber criminals behind that ransomware attack. Again, Garmin has yet to clarify any of this, so we’re a little in the dark. 

Garmin down: is my data safe?  

Yes, at least going by Garmin’s FAQ on the outage: “Garmin has no indication that this outage has affected your data, including activity, payment or other personal information.” And various users are noting that their data is now coming back to Garmin Connect. 

What’s not safe is Garmin’s reputation. Many Garmin device users have taken to Twitter to bemoan at the company’s lack of response around the outage and when they might be able to record their activities again. 

Some of this fury was balanced out by people poking fun at Garmin users seemingly being obsessed with tracking all their activity rather than simply enjoying exercise.

Garmin down: what can I do?  

Get a Fitbit. OK seriously, you might just need to be patient and wait until Garmin manages to get all its services back up and running smoothly, after which your data should be collected and synced with Garmin Connect. 

But if you’re a Strava user and are desperate to upload your data, then you can take matters into your own hands and upload your data manually. That will involve taking the cable used to charge your fitness tracking device and then plugging it into your Windows 10 or macOS machine. 

Once you’ve done that, the device should show up as drive that you can access. You then need to open it and access the Garmin folder. In that folder you will find conspicuously named ‘.FIT’ flies; these are where your activity data is kept. 

If you select the most recent one and then save it to your desktop or a folder of choice on your PC, you can then upload it onto Strava via the service’s website once you’ve logged into your account. The option to do so will be in the top corner on the right-hand side. 

With services not coming back online, a lot of people may be happy to just wait until their data syncs back up, even if that takes a while. If we hear any major updates from Garmin, we'll be sure to update this post accordingly.