Gmail: Maybe the “G” Stands for “Gone”?

By  |  Monday, August 11, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Last week, I blogged about a Gmail outage and noted with relief that it hadn’t affected me. Gmail is down again now, and I’m not feeling so lucky: Both my personal and work accounts are displaying the same message at the moment:

It would appear that I have lots of company–Twitter is abuzz with reports from folks who are locked out of their accounts. When I went looking for more definitive word on what as going on, I checked TechCrunch–it has covered the outage and calls it “systemwide.”.

I also visited Google’s official Gmail blog in hopes that it might be a source of information on what’s wrong and when it might be fixed, but the last post there is a week old. I read a whole bunch of Google’s blogs and find them valuable when the company’s up to something new and interesting, but they will be far more valuable if and when the company chooses to use them to communicate with customers in real time about issues like this.

I also find the error message above less than entirely clarifying, since it sounds like it’s my particular inbox that’s feeling sickly at the moment. As Slate editor John Dickerson said on Twitter when he got the same message:

TechCrunch says that Comscore estimates that 20 million people visit Gmail every day; I’m sure that a goodly percentage of those folks, like me, absolutely depend on it for both personal and professional use. Google’s track record for dependable service is generally so strong that it’s easy to get complacent and assume that its stuff will always be there when you need it. So I’m going to consider this outage a perversely useful reminder that it’s always good to have a backup strategy. Especially when it comes to services you don’t pay for, and even when those services come from big, technically savvy companies like Google.

Update: At the moment, my Gmail access is back, but the service is loading really, really slowly. I’ll hope that’s a sign that things are on their way back to normal.

Let’s end this with a silly little poll:

Further update: I can get into both of my Gmail accounts again, with no signs of trouble. Let’s hope that the outage is over–and that Google tells us what happened.

Furthest update of all: Google has posted about today’s outage on the Gmail blog. And I in turn have posted about that post.

 
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2 Comments For This Post

  1. AG Says:

    Gmail outages = one club of which I do not care to be a member. OTOH, now that I’m said so, I will doubtless be inducted, no?

    Agreed, however, that Google needs to communicate what’s happening. The aw-shucks routine they do is maddening; this isn’t some Twitter situation, where a glimpse of Fail Whale can soothe most ruffled feathers, or a Bloglines meltdown where one can — shh, this is a secret — enjoy breathing easy for a moment or two with the pressure to keep up with feeds off one’s back. (Yes, I often feel oppressed by my RSS reader.) Gmail is a core tool at this point. “Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it” isn’t cutting it as a tech-status meme.

  2. Dave Mackey Says:

    I saw the message about 2 hours ago, and thought nothing more of it, until I saw your post show up in the blog feed of my redesigned homepage. Then I went onto Gmail and found it working fine. End of story. Yes, it’s a core tool, but it’s nothing for me (at least) to be alarmist about.

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