Wednesday, September 2, 2009

G-mail Goes Offline - Strands Millions Without E-mail

Yesterday afternoon (09-01-09) Google's free e-mail service, G-mail went offline for about 1 hour 45 minutes. Although Google keeps its user numbers close to the vest, it's estimated that more than 149 million users are getting e-mail through the service. When the system was unavailable, all of those people lost their e-mail. To put it in perspective, that's about 1/2 the population of the United States.

To make matters worse, Google also sells the G-mail service to businesses at a cost of $50 per user. The idea is that it's more cost effective to farm it out than to have to employ an IT department to keep you e-mail humming along. Of course all of those paying customers were down for the duration as well.

While there is no indication yet of what caused the outage, there was one Twitter account claiming responsibility, but that cannot be confirmed.

More importantly this shows how dependent we can be on Google or some of the other big e-mail providers (Microsoft and Yahoo actually have even more users). For those dependent on e-mail for work, such an outage can be a costly one.

Are there ways to prevent this in the future? Probably. I can pretty much guarantee that Google is asking that same question and looking for answers. Today was one of those days I'm glad I have my own domain and my own e-mail server.

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