Trouble In The Clouds: Gmail Turns Into Gfail

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Thousands of Twitter messages carrying the words “gmail” or “gfail” will teach you that Google’s free web-based e-mail platform is currently down around the world. A Google spokesperson told Pocket Lint that their engineers are working on it but have no clue why the errors are turning up.

Meanwhile, a Google representative posted this on a its help pages:

We’re aware of a problem with Gmail affecting a small subset of users. The affected users are unable to access Gmail. We will provide an update by February 24, 2009 6:30 AM PST detailing when we expect to resolve the problem. Please note that this resolution time is an estimate and may change.

(POP3 / IMAP seems to be still functioning, and the problem doesn’t appear to affect other Google Apps at this point)

I’m not buying the small subset part, and considering the fact that Pocket Lint says the problem started occuring around 10:20am GMT, 3 hours before even telling everyone what’s going on is an incredibly long timeframe in my opinion.

Update: Gmail is supposed to be coming back now, at least for some. But Google is also dealing with people posting adult content on Groups pages related to Gmail.

Update 2: there’s a status box on the Gmail Help homepage that says the outage started at 1:30 AM PST, which means the problems have been occurring for nearly 2 hours and a half at the time of this update. The message now reads that access has been restored without any indication of time.

Update 3: the problem appears to be solved for most users now, 3 hours after Google indicated that it was aware of the errors.

This comes a couple of weeks after the chaos when a reportedly human error caused Google’s search engine to erroneously flag the entire internet as malware. Curious to see what their response to this outage will be, as this is not the first time this has happened.

Good thing Gmail went offline with Google Gears some time ago.

Update 4: Google’s official statement was just blogged.

If you’ve tried to access your Gmail account today, you are probably aware by now that we’re having some problems. Shortly after 10 9:30am GMT our monitoring systems alerted us that Gmail consumer and businesses accounts worldwide could not get access to their email.

We’re working very hard to solve the problem and we’re really sorry for the inconvenience. Those users in the US and UK who have enabled Gmail offline through Gmail Labs should be able to access their inbox, although they won’t be able to send or receive emails.

We’re posting updates to the Gmail Help Centre at http://mail.google.com/support/ and Google Apps users can visit the Google Apps help centre at http://www.google.com/support/a.

Thanks for bearing with us while we sort this out. We’ll report back as we make progress.

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