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Google's Gmail goes down for at least half an hour; Twitter lights up

September 1, 2009 |  1:47 pm

Google-outage Google's Gmail electronic mail platform went down about 1 p.m. PST for at least some fraction of the Web audience, and it didn't take long for tens of thousands of Twitter users to note that the service was offline.

While the extent of the outage was not immediately clear, for at least a vocal swath of Twitter users, Gmail was offline for more than 30 minutes, qualifying it for Google's technical definition of a "downtime period," rather than simply intermittent spottiness.

Many of Google's services essentially exist in "the cloud" -- that is, users interact with programs on Google's servers via the Web, rather than running them from their own computers. That means the  company's business -- and reputation -- depends on its being available to consumers and business customers without interruption.

For paying customers of Google Apps, the company guarantees that the service will be available at least 99.9% of the time.  Any less, and Google starts to lose money back to businesses, which are credited with free service days based on the extent of the outage.

In a 31-day month, there are 44,640 minutes, meaning that the cutoff -- 0.1% -- means a maximum of about 45 minutes of downtime.  As of this writing, the Gmail outage has lasted about 30 minutes.  Consumers who use the free service, of course, don't get any freebies when Google goes down.

Gmail went down for about two hours in August of last year as well.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson left the following comment on this post after publication:

On behalf of Google I wanted to let everyone know that we're really sorry for the inconvenience and working to fix the problem as fast as we can. If you have IMAP or POP set up already, you should be able to access your mail that way in the meantime. You can find the latest information on the Apps Status Dashboard at www.google.com/appsstatus.

Update, 2:47p.m.: According to the above-mentioned status page, Gmail was until a few moments ago listed as currently having had an "outage," but now reflects only a "service disruption."  The page indicates that Gmail had a service disruption yesterday as well.

-- David Sarno

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