55 Comments

Summary:

Update: Google says sorry about the GMail outage. That’s good enough for me. Here is what Todd Jackson, GMail product manager had to say on the company blog. Many of you had trouble accessing Gmail for a couple of hours this afternoon, and we’re really sorry. […]

Update: Google says sorry about the GMail outage. That’s good enough for me. Here is what Todd Jackson, GMail product manager had to say on the company blog.

Many of you had trouble accessing Gmail for a couple of hours this afternoon, and we’re really sorry. The issue was caused by a temporary outage in our contacts system that was preventing Gmail from loading properly.

We’ve identified the source of this issue and fixed it. In addition, as with all issues that affect Gmail and our other services, we’re conducting a full review of what went wrong and moving quickly to update our internal systems and procedures accordingly. We don’t usually post about problems like this on our blog, but we wanted to make an exception in this case since so many people were impacted.

Original post below the fold.

It’s almost becoming routine, these outages at Google’s Gmail service. After we reported last week that there were some problems with Google Apps, today a much bigger outage hit Google’s email service, taking down the entire system, it seems.

Given that our company relies on Google’s Gmail and GTalk service, our operations came to a standstill this afternoon. We aren’t a large company but the losses are very real, especially in productivity. I wonder how the big customers of Google — folks like Sanmina-SC — are dealing with this e-blackout.

If an outage of this magnitude can strike Google, the company with a fearsome infrastructure, I wonder who — if any — can plan for the worst. I guess it’s time to stop picking on Twitter, which was fast becoming synonymous with the word “outage.” In fact, in recent weeks, not only Google’s services but those of Amazon’s S3 and Apple’s MobileMe have gone on the blink, leading us to rethink our assumptions about the reliability of the web as a platform. Clearly a lot of work still needs to be done.

How is your workday being impacted by Gmail outage? Share your stories with us.

Photo courtesy of Kyle May via Flickr.

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  1. I’ve been using gmail all day with no interruptions.

  2. I wrote a GMail outage survival post back in June. I’m used to seeing about 100 hits to it each time there is an outage with GMail from SERPs. It got over 2,000 hits in just two hours today. I spent my afternoon keeping an eye on the server and being thankful that my POP3 and IMAP access was still working.

  3. Top 5 Things To Do When Google Shuts Down | RedRussak’s Online Marketing Blog Monday, August 11, 2008

    [...] GigaOm Article: Gmail’s Out…Again [...]

  4. Ever tried Zimbra? Not sure if they have what you need, but is seems picking up speed with adoption by schools like stanford.

  5. Snehal Shinde Monday, August 11, 2008

    this is one reason why Yahoo! rocks big time…you wont see such outages every…that is cause Y! has a well defined process in place…customers is their highest priority…how many times have you seen Yahoo! Mail going down? I sincerely feel Y! is the underdog…when they do things right no one talks about it…when they do one thing wrong….everyone is out there yelling out loud…

  6. This is actually the first time I’ve ever experienced a gmail outtage. I use it a lot for freelance and side projects and was not affected much. If anything, my addiction to check for new email was hurt, but nothing of consequence. Wasn’t too bad to be honest, and was back up and running in like 20 mins.

  7. Hmm. To be honest — the break in email was annoying, but it was a pleasant disconnect. I just went back to real work ;)

    I suppose my sentiments would be different if it was actually down constantly. 30 minutes here and there isn’t that major for me, in the scheme of things. Especially considering how annoying it would be if _we_ were the ones having to deal with the outage.

  8. I observe all my web app activities via gmail at my daytime workplace. GMail being down, was quite an inconvenience. Its very surprising to see that big shops like Google/Amazon have single point of failures and holes in their monitoring services that are unable to detect outages upfront.
    Apple’s MobileMe situation is little bit more understandable, as this is probably one of their first web app of this magnitude. They handle that magnitudes with their ITunes servers but most of the content is probably driven from CDNs.

  9. Our gmail accounts, both personal gmail as well as several domain accounts hosted by Google have all been working today. However we did suffer with the half day outage last week that hit all our users and accounts (first time ever it hit them all once). Our normal outage pattern is that a user here or a user there has their IMAP access fail for an hour then everything is back to normal. Since we use the standard edition, which is free, we have decided to take the outages as “getting what we paid for”. After all, it works 99% of the time, and more importantly, they haven’t eaten any of our mailboxes (knocking on wood). However, if we were to ever upgrade to the $50 per user per year service for a domain, we would expect a better level of service as well.

  10. The Internet as a service platform really concerns me, especially the same day Sprint announced its new mobile mail client. It forces its customers who use SpintPCS for email to totally depend on the internet for email service. I think that Sprints days are numbered, and the mobile application, which is creative is very raw with important features missing.
    A shame because the Sprint network is very solidi in So Cal.

    Apps like Igoogle rock though and If anyone gets Cloud Computing right it will be Google.

  11. “leading us to rethink our assumptions about the reliability of the web as a platform”

    Seriously, you are assuming how many 9s for a free (or very very cheap) email service?

    You get what you pay for, and with Google, you get pretty good stuff for a really great price. If your business can’t be without e-mail for a few hours, you really have a rude awakening coming. It is VERY EXPENSIVE to design, implement and support a messaging platform that produces 3, 4 or 5 9s uptime.

    Get real.

  12. Om,
    Check out their fine print here: http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/admins/editions.html

    It says, “** The 99.9% uptime guarantee for Gmail is offered to organizations using Google Apps Premier Edition, as described in the Google Apps Premier Edition Terms of Service.”

    So the service was out for couple of hours.. so do the math

    IF (Last week+ Today 2hrs)/365*24 > 0.1?

    THEN
    File A Lawsuit! Get Rich!*

    –COP

    *Yes I know they cover their asses in the terms of service and 99.9% is only a marketing BS..

  13. So a couple of points – one, i was happy it was down. I get more than enough email a day that a forced outage was a relief. Ofcourse, it lasted all of about 15 minutes before my blackberry beeped, and then when I figured out that it was still working on my blackberry, I was right back at work, so I didn’t as much as a break as i wanted.

  14. 99.9% uptime (3 9s) = 8.76 hours downtime per year

  15. Raymond Padilla Monday, August 11, 2008

    My “free” accounts were down for about an hour today with the dreaded (502) error.

  16. It gave me reason to leave and take a break. And while I tend to use Gtalk the most, people know the other ways to get to me and having an AIM app on the iphone makes it easy to check in while I was out. Personally this is the first real gmail outage I can speak of seeing. my apps service was not interrupted during the last outage, and my imap support has never really had issues with connectivity. Even with the outages I’d use gmail for hosting over exchange servers.

  17. OM!

    Seems gmail doesnt like you ;-) , my gmail has been working fine

  18. Would you believe I didn’t even notice? The first I heard of this was your own headline in my Blogroll. Maybe I DO live in a cave…
    Thanks for the tip and the comments too; I learn a lot this way.

  19. I’ve been on it all day, no problems here.

  20. Isn’t it “Sanmina-SCI”?

  21. I depend on google apps for my company’s email too so i am worried as you are any time i lose access to google apps.

    But are your other choices any more desirable? for me, the answer is no.

    1. Do you want to run your own mail server? for some that’s a viable option. For me, no thanks. i’d rather focus on my core business.

    2. Even if you do run your own mail server, does that mean it will be more reliable? are you that good of a sysadmin? or do you want to hire one? is your net connection that reliable? the hardware the server sits on, the backups? or will you do it in a co-lo or hosted environment, where you will transfer part of yr dependency on google to some colo or hosting company? will they be any better/reliable than google?

    3.When you worked in a large corporation, are you saying there were never outages in email? I worked for large companies before, and they all had their occasional mail outages. Plus, even though they had less outages than perhaps you have experienced with google. i’d say my productivity with google has been higher simply because with google i can keep gigabytes of mail online in a quickly searchable environment.

    No sweating whether microsoft outlook’s PST file is corrupted or getting too large or crashing outlook or searching dog slow. And no getting messages like “your mailbox is full” and having to clear out the mailbox.

    In summary, I’ve had email support from large corporations, large ISPs, webhosting companies, email companies, and google, and if i had to pick one to go with, i would pickle google apps hands down.

    That doesn’t mean i don’t get ticked when i can’t get my email. Doesn’t mean i like it all But on balance it’s the one i’ve had the overall best experience with.

  22. Everything breaks…even exchange servers in corporates go down once in a while and get infected by the latest virus..

    btw i did not notice gmail going down today..

  23. The Universal Desktop mobile edition Monday, August 11, 2008

    [...] pulled a fail whale and a number of people are talking about how their productivity was damaged. Systems are going to go down, it’s a [...]

  24. actually mediatemple was down too. and we rely on google for our backup accounts. so it was a really really bad day

  25. Samir Raiyani Monday, August 11, 2008

    It was really frustrating since it was so inconsistent all day. Messages would arrive, but sending would fail randomly. The error messages would be inconsistent. If there’s an outage, the least they can do is to send a message or post a message somewhere that the systems are on a blink.

    I used to use a simple email service provider for many years with IMAP and they were cheaper and had fewer outages than Gmail. Went for Gmail option because of calendaring and now this…

    There were a bunch of Linux-based mail/calendar server companies @ LinuxWorld – from Europe and Latin America. Maybe I’ll try one of those guys after all…

  26. Gmail reliability the past few months has been quite spotty for me. This is a bad sign… Just because something is free, doesn’t mean that reliability can be bad. In fact, I wish Google would have a premium Gmail service for individual use, since my personal productivity is very dependent on staying in touch with others. I’d pay for better reliability.

  27. As we all know, outages happen even in the best designed, managed, and process wrapped systems.
    Having seen many opaque and dishonest PR exercise explanations, I appreciate this simple and frank explanation from the GMail Product Manager.

  28. Regards the commenter who says: “you wont see such outages every…that is cause Y! has a well defined process in place…customers is their highest priority…how many times have you seen Yahoo! Mail going down?”

    Yahoo has gone down a number of times. Considering their enormous traffic they do a remarkable job, but are no more immune to these glitches than anyone else.

  29. Markus Göbel’s Tech News Comments Monday, August 11, 2008

    Mine worked fine all the time. Especially since I also check it on the cellphone. With the new Nokia Email Service software even SSL is usable, although Gmail’s own mobile app can’t deal with it.

  30. Gmail Outage: Why it Still Says Beta | The Blog Herald Monday, August 11, 2008

    [...] Which I think is a bit scary, but obviously understandable. It makes it easier for people like me and Om Malik to accept the apology and continue labeling our inbox [...]

  31. Juris Kaža » “Mākonis” zem mākoņa (papildinot žurnālā “Kapitāls” publicēto) – Nozare.lv Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    [...] ar interneta tirgotāja Amazon uzturētiem pakalpojumiem mazam un vidējam biznesam. Par to raksta komentētājs un speciālists Om Maliks (Om Malik)  savā blogā GigaOm.  Arī CNet blogotājs [...]

  32. GMAIL is great and very very unreliable! It’s one of Google’s biggest problems now and they need to fix asap or they will lose my entire company. They are acting like a second rate company. Get your act together Google! I’m sick of writing these posts on GigaOm.

  33. Wonder when the honeymoon will finally end for Google. “they said sorry, that’s good enough for me”… PLEASE! If this had been a MSFT or Y! service which failed for 14+ hours in a 7 day window the media would be standing outside their buildings with lit torches.

  34. Where are you left if the Cloud goes down? | Ugh!!’s Greymatter Honeypot Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    [...] GMail is only one of a number of “Cloud” applications that have suffered an outage recently. Cloud Computing refers to those applications that are entirely or partly hosted on a [...]

  35. The problem isn’t just the inability to send email. It’s the fact that you can’t even search your e-mail when it’s down. So you can’t look up people’s phone numbers in e-mail, etc.

    Thankfully, I haven’t had any downtime.

  36. You are a fool if you keep really important phone numbers ONLY in your gmail account or any place else external to your control.

  37. Thank you! I’ve been trying to raise this point about GMail for months and no one in the media has written about it. It is constantly down. It happens about once each week or every two weeks. Sometimes only a few brief moments other times for 1/2 hour to an hour+. The increased frequency of outages coincided with the rollout of major product release (it may have been mapping iGoogle search results to consumer behavior – but not sure, looking through my notes). Additionally, Google insists on connecting your GMail account (‘consumer’ account) to business applications such as AdWords or Adsense. You cannot log into AdWords without automatically getting logged out of GMail (if it’s a separate ‘email/username’). Also, there is an increased lag in page rendered (GMail, Google search results, iGoogle, etc) and can see that now all Google owned domains/webpages have Google Analytics integrated. I know, I know, not unique for a business to analyze their traffic however we should be aware the potential…and likely ‘potential’ is a soft term since this data is already being used and likely analyzed to see how to further monetize us all.

  38. Scott and Ben are spot on. Google Mail/Apps is an incredible suite for the price. Free software enables so much other value to be created in our economy. Cloud backlash is inevitable. Fortunately for all of us, so is the cloud.

  39. OK this is now becoming ridiculous!

    We have 5 premium accounts with GMAIL and now that connectivity has been restored all the accounts are blank-

    -No mail in Inbox
    -No contacts
    -Nothing!!

    Have sent mail to gmail techsupport- but as usual the people at the plex are too busy getting massages than to respond to user concerns!

    Do they realize that they are playing with the livelyhood of actual human beings here??

  40. My small business is hosted through Premier Apps – access to the cloud was down for several hours as I needed to send out e-mail and check my calendar; lack of access to my account has been an issue over the past two months and I’m considering a move to a provider like 01.com – same fee, less cloud storage for that fee, but the downtime is getting to be a pain.

    Personally – I have a free Gmail account and it was down for about a day, and I’ve been cut off from access to my cloud about a dozen times for extended periods since June 1. Wait, it gets better. I also use MobileMe for my family – yep, we’ve been going to the park more often…

  41. Hopefully this is not interpreted as flame bait because that is not the intent.

    Outages like this are one of the reasons that most businesses will continue to use software or services from companies that have roots in enterprise software. Companies use Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange in their own datacenters because they have more control. Some might argue that Google’s datacenter infrastructure is obviously more robust than any company’s datacenter(s) but obviously not robust enough. Also, as Microsoft and IBM and others begin to offer Exchagne and Notes as hosted services I believe that many business customers will look to them first before Google. Google’s a great company and, with their deep pockets, they probably have the ability to make GMAIL more mission-critical. But as a consumer-targeted offering that is attempting to uplevel to an enterprise offering they have some pretty big barriers in front of them.

  42. I have a gmail account at work, in addition to my regular address, which Entourage checks every minute. I am constantly getting errors that my gmail account cannot be accessed. I noticed that almost every day over the past month or two my gmail account cannot be accessed for at least 10-20 minutes. Maybe some users don’t notice because they don’t have a mail program constantly accessing the gmail server.

  43. Gerard McLean Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    My Apple Mail indexes hosed on Sunday night, we switched to our Gmail account for everything and closed Apple Mail for the last time… Gmail even with a 2 hour outage, is still faster, more portable and more reliable than Apple Mail will ever be…

    G.

  44. Have you guys heard of BlueTie? They area web based hosted email provider that seems to be gaining a lot on the Gmails, Zimbras and even Exch 07. They are similar looking to outlook, with most of the shared capability of Exchange………I have a personal account, and it works fantastic, and also have a friend who is an IT director for a mid sized company that uses them, and they swear by it. Check them out if you have time!

  45. Offline access is more important than ever at MasterMaq’s Blog Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    [...] Microsoft, and others can do it far more efficiently. But don’t let those names fool you, as GigaOm points out: If an outage of this magnitude can strike Google, the company with a fearsome infrastructure, I [...]

  46. My friends father has two lumber and mill companies in CA, and they use BlueTie and swear by it! Its quite affordable for a full blown sharing application AND they have a support staff for their end users. We are thinking of using them for our company as well.

  47. We recommend both Google Premier and Bluetie, especially for those looking for an Exchange replacement. But as with anything else, things do happen and the need for business continuity (backup) is ever more an essential part of doing business.

    When it comes to mission critical email, having a domain based backup is a must have, even if it is used on very rare occasions, it’s insurance that keeps communications flowing.

    Our security and backup messaging services have grown significantly the past couple years and we see no down tuen coming any time soon.

  48. I work for BlueTie so I appreciate all the props!! If any of you have any questions regarding our email solution, please feel free to call me directly at (585) 419 – 2763. Thanks!

  49. Red como computadora « Blog de JoseMPelaez Monday, August 18, 2008

    [...] sufrió un incidente que duró siete horas causando impacto en varios clientes en julio. El lunes no se pudo acceder al correo web de Google durante un par de [...]

  50. CloudStatus Keeps an Eye on The Clouds – GigaOM Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    [...] MobileMe went on a blink for many while the GMail blackout that left millions angry and frustrated. Even Amazon’s seemingly fool proof S3 service was [...]

  51. When Google Goes Down, Twitter Catches Fire | Cynosure Thursday, August 21, 2008

    [...] Gmail’s Out…Again [...]

  52. 10 Stories That Defined Broadband in 2008 Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    [...] and more than once we were made acutely away of the fragile nature of web infrastructure. Google’s popular Gmail service went on the blink, Amazon’s fast-growing, cloud-based storageS3 service nosedived in July and [...]

  53. Captain Obvious reports “Web apps are not foolproof.” | User Support | TechRepublic.com Thursday, February 5, 2009

    [...] for sharing data and increasing its portability, nothing in life is perfect. Google’s Gmail has stumbled on occasion, and Amazon and Apple have had their own problems with the availability of [...]

  54. For me it’s out again right now =S. Am I the only one who can’t log in? (may 8th 12:06 GMT+2)

  55. Rafael V. Rabinovich Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Once again, September 1st at 4:20 PM EDT, can’t get to gmail on either my computer or my cellphone, and google gives an error message. What’s the matter?

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