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Mom, Google Ate My GMail!

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Update:If you are ready to give up your desktop clients and are considering switching to all-Google all-the-time, as one of us has done, be warned that the future is not simple and fraught with risk. An increasing number of GMail subscribers are complaining that their emails, accounts and archives are simply vanishing.

For nearly 10 days, a strange sort of bug is simply cleaning out the GMail inboxes. An afflicted soul wrote to us this morning, warning about this bug. Just when we were saying GMail is getting better and better. (If you are you one of the victims, please leave a comment and we will try and get to Google people and see what is going on.) On the GMail thread on (what else) Google Threads, a user writes:

Not only we are surprised that these sorts of issues happens to a company like Google but we are pissed off because e-mail is the core of our internet life.

A Gmail Guide responded to complaints on December 22nd, saying that they were looking into it. As of December 28, people were still waiting for the GSanta to show up. Anyway, hate to say this, Google is the new Microsoft. It is pounding start-ups with its traffic might, and is being afflicted by bugs.

Seriously guys, if you are a GMail user, perhaps it is time to download the GMail via POP3 access. Don’t wait, do it now! And Liz, add reliability and 100% uptime to your GMail wishlist.

Update: Google spokeswoman sent us an email explaining the situation:

Regretfully, a small number of our users — around 60 — lost some or all of their email received prior to December 18th. Once we found out about this issue, we worked day and night to confirm that only a few accounts were affected and to do whatever we could to restore as much of the users’ accounts as we could. We’ve also reached out to the people who were affected to apologize and to work with them to restore the email from any personal backup they might have.

We know how important Gmail is to our users – we use it ourselves for our corporate email. We have extensive safeguards in place to protect email stored with Gmail and we are confident that this is a small and isolated incident.

93 Responses to “Mom, Google Ate My GMail!”

  1. All my emails were deleted on Sept. 1st while I was in my gmail account I was watching them disappear in front of my eyes. And I got some BS from the folks at Google saying it was my fault. The weird thing was that it also deleted all the personalized modules I had on my google homepage (

    The worst part was their denial and trying to make it MY fault.

  2. Gmail uses their own in house grown storage for they backend filesystems, while Yahoo, uses Netapp filers which are a lot more reliable. I’d rather use Yahoo’s mail which uses the same backend storage which my company uses to host our business critical applications.

  3. I am actually one of the people affected by this. I didn’t lose any actual emails (at least as far as I know), but I did lose all my filter rules (I had a lot), and all of the emails I had deleted returned. Also, Google Reader ‘forgot’ which articles I had read, and marked them all as unread.
    So, I decided to shop around, and found, which offers a whopping 5GB of free email, plus contacts, calendar, notes, and file and photo storage. And to replace Google Reader I found
    So far, I’ve been very pleased with both of them. Google isn’t the only game in town.

  4. Frank Daley

    How much of this new hysteria about Gmail is being generated by Microsoft employees and astroturfers working to create FUD?

    Microsoft is the master of FUD, and I suspect that some of the above comments reflect its FUD.

  5. Olivier Amprimo

    Mmm, funny to read this update.

    It would probably have much more profitable for everyone (ie specifically for Google corporate reputation and personal data protections) to communicate and act with insiders.

    The good point is that it’s an overall warning to all web 2.0 evangelists (whom I’m part) and users: remote platforms that offer to store your data are not (much) safer than your own in-house bricolage bazaar.

    May the respect of Gusers and improvements of Gtools prevail.

  6. Google says only 60 people are affected. I guess it is not as widespread. Still, it is important for people to just back their email. I use Zimbra for most of my work related email, and we back it up on the server, and locally by making a copy.

    I am all about IMAP and on OSX IMAP is flawless, especially with Thunderbird, a superior email client. Anyway full marks to Google team for reaching out and trying to solve the problem. Gmail has been a success story for them (relatively speaking.)

  7. I have subscribed to few google groups and messages
    get delivered to same google (gmail) account on which
    groups are subscribed.

    And twice I got message from “Google groups” asking to
    reactivate my account as message(s) bounced back.

    So I wonder if I might be losing even important email.

    GMail is not as reliable as it should be, no wonder
    they still call it BETA even after 2-3 years!!

    P.S. I havent lost mailbox yet though! But planning
    on backing it up on urgent basis.

  8. I have gmail automatically forward a copy of all incoming messages to my AIM mail account. AIM mail offers free 2GB of storage and free IMAP.

    The odds of both Google and AOL losing all my mail have got to be infinitely small.

    Plus, I have Thunderbird on my desktop using IMAP to sync with the AIM IMAP account.

  9. I dont think GMail is legally obligated to backup all user’s data.

    Also these thing happen. No one can write perfect code or manage systems flawlessly. People do trip on power cables :-)

    Jut backup your email using a POP client.

  10. Another issue I have been experiencing is that some times (sporadically) e-mail sent to me fm another gmail user doesn’t get to my gmail account. I checked the Trash and Outlook (where I download e-mail) and it doesn’t appear at all. The only reason I know it was sent is because I route all of my e-mail through my domain so it comes to my crackberry as well. There’s one person w/whom this happens to me regularly.

  11. My account won’t let me login saying my user name and password don’t match. When I try and go through the process of resetting my password it ask me a security question that I never choose nor answered. (my father’s middle name) Even so I answered the question and nothing! Google has been my home page for a long time but this has caused me to rethink this.

  12. Mike D: I think IMAP does beat POP also on all accounts, but lets be clear – the mass populace is not going to know what IMAP is, how it works, how to setup an IMAP account anywhere, etc etc…

    POP in this instance gets the job done for redundancy’s sake and ease of setup and usage. You have your local copy of your e-mails that are not affected even if your Gmail account goes ape shit and starts deleting itself spontaneously. Additionally if you were to forward your Gmail to an IMAP account, you would then have to configure that account to use GMail to deliver your outbound messages as well consistency’s sake… may or may not be trivial depending on which service you may be using.

    POP: Easiest to setup, offers redundancy (with Gmail’s setup anyway)

    IMAP: Superior system, not for the masses, complex outbound configuration.

  13. I have been using Gmail for so many years, I have had no problems with this losing of data. Backing up with Outlook is not gonna solve the problem, sometimes backing up Outlook data is a nightmare. I have lost more data with Outlook than any other means. This is just some disgruntled user. Compared to Outlook, Gmail is 100% Safer.

  14. I still don’t see much upside to running POP over IMAP. There’s really only one material advantage and that is if you are running Outlook. Outlook is a bit weird about IMAP mail deletion/expunging. Other than that, IMAP wins on all counts.

  15. suresh kumar

    although i mostly check my email using Gmail/Browser…

    i also d/l my email using onto my MacBook… that way i have the best of both worlds… and it has proven to be very useful because i also have access to my emails via Spotlight!

    worth trying out Om, if only for being able to search you emails from within OS X…

  16. @Mike D:

    Although I agree that an IMAP solution is ideal, POP is NOT dead. Gmail if anything has resurrected using POP as a viable method, even with your redundancy issue. Great thing about Gmail is that when your local email client downloads your messages via POP, those messages are automatically sent to your Gmail “archive” – there is your redundancy.


  17. Google apps aren’t perfect.
    As of right now Orkut ( Google’s social networking site) is down.
    It states “orkut is under construction.
    please check back soon (= “


  18. I question the wisdom of ever storing any important information on someone else’s server without having a local copy. Take your Gmail, forward it to an IMAP, and enjoy the benefits of both Gmail spam filtering and IMAP redundancy. Fuck POP… POP is dead.

  19. A bit of research into all the posts in that thread on google group, i noticed that all the people posting messages about lost and deleted emails have never written anything on the Google Groups before, which i think is strange. Also most of them are asking about how to contact support google in google groups, where in the first place Gmail Help leads to Google Gmail Group. Also company like Google should have enough backups of your email. If not they better have that in place soon.

  20. Anonymous

    @Yakito: As said in the article, you can set up any mail client (ie Outlook, Thunderbird etc.) to download all of the mail from your GMail account onto your hard drive. Do a google search for: “Name of Your Preferred Client” +GMail and you should come up with some tutorials on how its done.

  21. Yes… it’s called Outlook. Setup POP3 access from your Outlook or Outlook Express (or Thunderbird, whatever…) e-mail client and you can keep all of your Gmail messages stored locally on your computer.