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Gfail: Gmail Goes Down for Nearly 2 Hours

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 37 comments
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It was a rough Tuesday afternoon for Gmail users as the service experienced problems that lasted nearly two hours.

Google yesterday evening took to its Gmail Blog to talk about what the company dubbed a "Big Deal." Detailing that the outage was because of a miscalculation of capacity, Ben Treynor, VP Engineering and Site Reliability Czar, wrote that the company had already thoroughly investigated what happened, and was compiling a list of things it intended to fix or improve as a result of the investigation.

It's nice to know the team has things under control, but what actually went wrong? Treynor says that yesterday morning the team took a small fraction of Gmail's servers offline to perform routine upgrades, a procedure that normally goes off without a hitch. Ben continued on to explain that this time the team underestimated the load that some recent changes (ironically, some designed to improve service availability) placed on the request routers. At approximately 12:30, a few of the request routers became overloaded and so, the load was transferred onto the remaining request routers. More became overloaded and it sort of went from there until they were all down.

Steps Google is taking to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again include increasing request router capacity, and figuring out a way to make sure problems in datacenter A don't affect datacenter B.

How many of you were unable to access your Gmail yesterday? Let us know in the comments below how you dealt with the outage!

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  • 15 Hide
    JasonAkkerman , September 2, 2009 4:00 PM
    It didn't affect me. I would like to add that I hardly ever have service issues with GMail. Kudos to them for addressing the problem and being open about it, and for excellent FREE service.
  • 13 Hide
    ssalim , September 2, 2009 5:09 PM
    It doesn't make it a "Gfail" - sheesh.
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    Swivelguy , September 2, 2009 3:59 PM
    Only the web interface was down. Gmail worked fine via POP throughout the "outage."
  • 15 Hide
    JasonAkkerman , September 2, 2009 4:00 PM
    It didn't affect me. I would like to add that I hardly ever have service issues with GMail. Kudos to them for addressing the problem and being open about it, and for excellent FREE service.
  • 3 Hide
    citizenx , September 2, 2009 4:11 PM
    It affected me as far as accessing the web site but POP worked fine. Google still rocks for getting it back up so fast. Keep doing your thing Google!
  • 5 Hide
    FlayerSlayer , September 2, 2009 4:18 PM
    I lost access to the GMail website entirely, but my phone could still synch through POP3 just fine.
  • 3 Hide
    jerther , September 2, 2009 4:19 PM
    ^ same here. Didn'T notice. However, time here is -4 EDT
  • 4 Hide
    megamanx00 , September 2, 2009 4:29 PM
    Not a big deal to me since I don't need to check my Gmail account every hour like some people. Good to see they are working to make it more reliable though.
  • 2 Hide
    rooket , September 2, 2009 4:33 PM
    I've seen hotmail / msn messenger go down for longer than this without any explanation offered at all. one would expect that google would have issues from time to time as well. anyone arguing that microsoft is benefitting from this needs to really rethink what they are saying. i've already seen cnet try to say that microsoft was happy about this. i really doubt microsoft would have an opinion on the matter that would bolster their own product. just kind of shows how many hacks there are that claim to be in the IT field.
  • 9 Hide
    Mr_Man , September 2, 2009 4:34 PM
    That's the price of free. If it's free, you can never get less than you pay for.
  • 1 Hide
    Shadow703793 , September 2, 2009 4:43 PM
    Is it me or does Google seem to have quite a few outages recently? IIRC there was one in June?
  • 3 Hide
    doomtomb , September 2, 2009 4:49 PM
    I tried accessing it when it was down and it frustrated me for a bit then I just went about my day and did something else. Hopefully it doesn't happen again but 2 hours without email didn't kill me yesterday.
  • 5 Hide
    thejerk , September 2, 2009 4:53 PM
    people can live w/o email for two hours... it wasn't that big of a deal.
  • 2 Hide
    gimpy1 , September 2, 2009 5:08 PM
    I guess it was not quite ready to come out of beta.
  • 13 Hide
    ssalim , September 2, 2009 5:09 PM
    It doesn't make it a "Gfail" - sheesh.
  • 2 Hide
    cryogenic , September 2, 2009 5:11 PM
    I really thought that Google's server infrastructure made of thousands cheap and redundant servers could never fail ... guess I was wrong.



  • 1 Hide
    hypocrisyforever , September 2, 2009 5:19 PM
    So I'm a huge gmail fan. Best email out there in my opinion. Everyone at my company basically uses it (for it's chat aspect) and it archives everything automatically in a super efficient search. All that being said....it's reliability has been truly horrible lately. I only know this because I use it all day at work, and when it goes down suddenly im out of the communication loop. It happens pretty often too...like once a month. I'd never know if it happens with other emails because I don't sit on them 9 hours a day....but yeah, it's getting annoying.
  • 0 Hide
    uh_no , September 2, 2009 5:21 PM
    at least they didn't try to pull an apple and tell their users to stay silent
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 2, 2009 5:23 PM
    Google makes gazillions of dollars off of their 'free' service with their ad space. If you think about it, it's not free, your simply giving them space in your brain. Meh, I wasn't using it. That being said, I love Google and their excellent services. Quality, innovative products at the cost of a fairly unobtrusive ads, they've got my vote. 2 hours is a hiccup, not an outage.
  • 0 Hide
    Ciuy , September 2, 2009 5:28 PM
    jesus bif rikin deal. Whats all this hype about a 2 hour downtime. i guess some ppl cant live without e-amil these days, geeeeshhh
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 2, 2009 5:30 PM
    Oh wow, I see what they did there. You see, "Gfail" rhymes with "Gmail" and is therefore witty.
  • 0 Hide
    skittles36589 , September 2, 2009 5:35 PM
    I was using the web interface and it affected me. I was quite surprised that it was down. Maybe they should have kept the beta tag a little longer after all.
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