A Gmail outage yesterday caused panic online. According to PCWorld, it took about an hour for the Google team to find the bug and fix the issue, leaving people without access to their email and Google+ accounts.
Google acknowledged the problem occurred at 11:12 AM PST. Gmail users received 500 Error messages, which indicates a temporary problem, and a note apologizing that the account was unavailable at the time. However, the tech giant refused to acknowledge a problem with Google Drive and Google+, despite PCWorld stating that there was an issue with loading. YouTube was reportedly unaffected, although the commenting was since it was connected to Google+.
It is currently unclear just how many accounts were affected by the outage. However, there was a large number of users on Twitter trying to find out what the problem was and when their email access would be available. Some Twitter users like Jay Yarow found this amusing, considering how much people complain about emails. There were other sarcastic remarks online about how people had to communicate face-to-face because of no email.
Yahoo also decided to use Twitter as a way to inform people about the Gmail crash. Shortly after, the team posted an apology and informed users that it had deleted the previous tweet. The apology over the non-event created more news and made the company look worse than Google, according to Valleywag.
TechCrunch kept users up to date with the problems throughout the hour, and showed where most of the outages were occurring. The reports of the outages were in America, Canada, India and parts of Europe, causing online panic around the world. At the time of the initial update, the team checked Google’s App Status dashboard to see that there was a green light. This soon turned red, indicating that the service was down for the website too.
Users who direct their Gmail emails to other POP or IMAP accounts, such as Microsoft Outlook, were also affected by the outage.
Ironically, Google was hosting an Ask Me Anything Reddit session for customers with the Reliability Team. Users took to that to ask about the problem, but they were ignored.
Since getting the sites back online, Google announced that the downtime was due to a software bug within the “internal system that generates configurations.” This system is the bit that tells all other systems how they should behave and the bug led to the configuration being incorrect.
By 1:30 PM PST the configuration bug was solved and everyone got access back to their various Google accounts, including Gmail. However, most people had already gained access back within an hour of the initial complaint, with some only suffering for a few minutes.
This is not the first, and probably will not be the last, time that Gmail has suffered outages. One of the first was in 2009, which lasted for four days. Another was just last year and lasted four hours. At least the Gmail outages that cause so much online panic are getting shorter and easier to deal with.
By Alexandria Ingham