Night owl Gmailers were yesterday morning treated to what reports are calling a “major” outage, lasting several hours and affecting users all over the world.
While most users stateside were likely asleep during the outage (which occurred at about 01:30 PST), European users were unable to access their Gmail inboxes for several hours mid-morning. While some using Gmail’s new Offline feature (ahem, guilty as charged) didn’t notice the problem until they hit send on an email (and even then assumed it was just a problem with their own internet), those who did were none to pleased to be without mail for the morning, including the many businesses who have switched to the service recently in an effort to save money.
In a blog post updated at 07:29 PST, Google assured users that the outage was over and service had returned to normal:
“The Gmail outage that affected many consumers and Google Apps users worldwide is now over. Users should find that they’re able to access their email now without any further problems.”
The blog was updated again at roughly 11 a.m. with an apology for the interruption of service from the Gmail staff:
"Gmail had a major outage this morning: for about two and a half hours starting at 1:30 am PST while many of our users in the US were asleep, many people couldn't access their email. Lots of people around the world who rely on Gmail were disrupted during their waking and working hours, and we’re very sorry. We did everything we could to restore access as soon as possible, and the issue is now resolved."
A subsequent update revealed the cause of the problem -- a routine maintenance event in one of Gmail's European data centers. While this type of maintenance usually causes no disruption (accounts are apparently served out of another data center), the Gmail team said that "unexpected side effects" of some new code that tries to keep data geographically close to its owner caused another data center in Europe to become overload.
Google says the outage itself lasted roughly two and a half hours. Hit the updated blog post here for the full story.
UPDATE: The AP reports that Google is offering 15 days of free service to businesses, government agencies and other subscribers who pay for an expanded version of the product. Check out the full AP post here.