Gmail Outage Causes Online Panic

GmailA 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





8 Responses to "Gmail Outage Causes Online Panic"

  1. Gary Lance Valois   January 25, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    We have nothing to fear, just relax and enjoy this wonderful technology.

  2. Winston Smith   January 25, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Panic? Over 70 minutes? Are people this pathetic? Wait, don’t answer.

  3. RMSdiscover   January 25, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Actually I suspect it is not the bug which has created this issue, basically entire mail systems of all around the globe is reconfigured to remove the NSA unlimited spoofing access. So that the update patch is ruled out without issuing any public notification to avoid the public outrageous. I hope you guy got the root cause of this incidence now.

  4. Sarcophagus Macabre   January 25, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Oh, my goodness! Will we have to bang on drums to communicate with each other? We’ll have to rub two sticks together to stay warm? IT’S ARMAGEDDON!

  5. Whane The Whip   January 25, 2014 at 9:46 am

    You’ve got it backwards Matthew, Google earns $Billions off of ad revenue as a result of their user base. And for that we get ZERO customer service. Google just pukes services onto the internet and then says “there ya go, if you have problems don’t tell us, we don’t care, but thanks for the $Billions”.

    • PA   January 25, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      Whane, this is a completely one sided view, for the $billions we give then they provide you with free services…

  6. Pete   January 25, 2014 at 9:42 am

    I’ve had a gmail account since it’s inception. They’ve had hundreds of short outages during that time. So this is nothing new and part of the technology behind it. It does bother me how Alexandria has turned it into “worldwide panic” to sensationalize it all. Just a straightforward reporting of the incident would have sufficed.

  7. Matthew Edwards   January 25, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Gmail is free. Well, the price is my privacy I suppose since Google obviously uses data they mine from my emails to target advertisements to me and compile a dosier of my web activities.
    Gee, it is kinda scary put that way.
    Anyhow, I am a boring cheapskate so they can take the info for all the good it will do them.
    Relax people, you are getting what you “pay” for, yes?


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