Just as it is surprising when an Apple or Microsoft service goes down, it was just as surprising when Google's Gmail went down for hours yesterday. According to Google, the e-mail service did not "technically" go down and instead, there were some network
errors causing e-mail to come in slower than usual for around 50% of Gmail users.
In reality, only about 1.5% of the service's user base endured true issues with Gmail. The rest of the users experienced "delays," receiving emails of 2.5 seconds.
Google Offers Explanation -- Sort Of
In a blog post, Sabrina Farmer, Google's site reliability manager, apologized and tried to explain why Gmail was slow or inaccessible for some users. She stated that the slow email delivery came as a result of a dual network failure which, according to Google, is a "very rare event."
Even though Google tried to respond to the outage as fast as possible -- and even made some empty promises as to when the service would be fully restored -- it took around 12 hours for Gmail to be working perfectly again. Users began reporting a slowdown around 10 a.m. Eastern on Monday and it was not until 10 p.m. Eastern that things were brought back to normal.
Farmer stated that 71% of all Gmail messages sent during the partial outage were unaffected and were not delayed. The actual network failures seem to have been unrelated but they occurred at just the right time to cause issues for Google and its e-mail platform. As to the technical reasons why the networks failed, Google has been quiet.
Protecting Against Future Issues
Google says that it will be trying to protect its networks from future issues that could potentially cause problems with Gmail or any of its other applications.
"We also plan to make changes to make Gmail message delivery more resilient to a network capacity shortfall in the unlikely event that one occurs in the future," Google said. "Finally, we're updating our internal practices so that we can more quickly and effectively respond to network issues. We'll be working on all of these improvements and more over the next few weeks."
These improvements, which should prevent an already rare event such as a dual network outage, will be rolling out over the next few weeks.
Despite the fact that only 1.5% of Gmail users were actually affected in a significant way, Gmail is huge, therefore 1.5% is a lot of people. Based upon Google's own statistics, there are more than 700 million Gmail users around the world.
This means that at least 10 million people dealt with partial e-mail outages throughout most of Monday. Google stated, "We realize that our users rely on Gmail to be always available and always fast, and for several hours we didn't deliver."
All in all, an outage that lasted only part of one day is not horrendous but when millions of people rely on Gmail every day, it is important that Google takes the appropriate measures to prevent another failure.
Posted: 2013-10-10 @ 6:51am PT
If the statistics of 1.5% are correct for yesterday then what is it today? I had fully operational gmail yesterday but not today.
Posted: 2013-10-04 @ 4:32pm PT
Well, I go to check my e-mail today on gmail..........it won't open!
Posted: 2013-10-01 @ 1:37pm PT
The NSA was installing new wiretapping upgrades and something went wrong.
Posted: 2013-09-24 @ 9:35pm PT
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