Google’s web-based e-mail service has been suffering from severe downtime for many users since mid-afternoon Monday (Pacific time). Some users can’t get into their accounts at all, and others who can are seeing uncharacteristically mediocre performance. Some users (like me) seem to be having no problems, but a few staffers here at Wired.com haven’t been able to log in for more than an hour.
Gmail is one of the most stable web apps out there, and it’s the lifeline for millions of users. So an error page like the one seen above amounts to a feeling far worse than your run-of-the-mill Twitter failure.
Blogger Dave Winer posted a screenshot of the Gmail error on Flickr, adding the comment, “I’ve seen this twice today. Scares the bejesus out of me. Twitter is fun, but GMail is mission-critical.”
And, actually, in an odd stroke of irony, guess what everyone’s talking about on Twitter?
Update (5:00PM PDT): We have received a statement from Google about the outage:
Since about 2 p.m. Pacific Time today, many Gmail users have been unable to access their email. We are very sorry for this interruption in service. The issue is being caused by a temporary outage in the contacts system used by Gmail which is preventing Gmail from loading properly. We are starting to roll out a fix now and hope to have the problem resolved as quickly as possible. Even though you may not be able to get to your inbox right now, your mail is safe, including new incoming messages.
We will post an update in the Gmail Help Center ( http://mail.google.com/support/ ) when more information is available.
Final Update: According to a post on the Google Gmail blog, service was fully restored by 6pm or 7pm Monday night. “We’ve identified the source of this issue and fixed it,” says Gmail product manager Todd Jackson. He also issued an apology, saying “we never take for granted the commitment we’ve made to running an email service that you can count on.”