Gmail in widespread outage, also caused Chrome browser crashes

Gmail in widespread outage, also caused Chrome browser crashes

Summary: Gmail suffered a widespread outage earlier today. It's not yet clear what caused the problems, but in many cases it also caused Chrome browsers to crash worldwide.

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 17.09.13
Gmail was hit with an outage at around 12 midday ET. Screenshot: ZDNet

Gmail is down... and it's up again, in what may be the strangest, shortest outage the company's cloud-based email service has suffered in memory. 

Gmail suffered from a widespread outage earlier today. First reported from social media services -- such as Facebook and Twitter -- many were unable to access their Google-based email accounts for minutes.

At 12:30 p.m. ET, Google said that it was "investigating reports of an issue with Google Mail," and said it would provide more information shortly. It did not offer anything else, except marking it has a "service disruption," rather than a "service outage."

At 1:10 p.m. ET, Google gave the all-clear and said that the "problem with Google Mail should be resolved." Google also noted a problem with Google Drive, which has also been fixed.

ZDNet's Rachel King said that her personal email account was down, while our Google Apps-powered email system remained "spotty." All in all, it appears that Google was down for only a few minutes -- perhaps no 15-20 minutes or so -- but it certainly left its mark on social media feeds.

Many users received 502 server errors when visiting their Gmail. So far, there's nothing from Google on the official Twitter accounts and no word back from the company. (Perhaps their Gmail is down? I jest...) 

Google Apps was not reporting any outages at the time of writing, suggesting that Google Apps for Business, Government and Education users were not affected.

However, Eric Harrison on Twitter said:

CBS Interactive's email system, hosted by Google Apps, was also impacted. However, it did not hit everyone in all of our offices, but seemed patchy for few. Others were left out in the cold for 20 minutes or so.

At the same time, Twitter suddenly spiked with a number of reports that Google Chrome was crashing. (I experienced it myself. I had to write much of this report three times due to crashes.) It could well be that a bug co-exists between Chrome and Gmail that is causing the crash, and may somehow relate to Google Sync.

There have been a few reports of other Google services failing to work, such as Google Calendar, Google Drive and Google Docs, although it seems to be mostly focused on the firm's cloud-based email service.

According to Ian Danforth on Twitter:

Also, Google Drive was causing problems. It appears likely that global Google site code was conflicting somehow with Chrome, or Chrome's synchronization service, that was causing the crash.

CNET's Danny Sullivan said:

The last major outage with Gmail was back in April where up to 35 million customers were affected, or roughly 10 percent of Gmail's global user base. Many were left unable to access their personal email accounts, and in some cases, their Google Apps-powered email accounts. 

We've checked in with Google but did not hear back at the time of writing. We will report back when we have more.

Topics: Google, Cloud, Google Apps

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  • Google Apps for Government was affected

    We went live on Google Apps for government in Mesa County, Colorado last Monday (thank God this didn't happen then) and we experienced the outage this morning including the Chrome crashes. Our go-live went well.
    • Four minute outage, no loss of data.

      I think it was out for all of four minutes. We have an order of magnitude higher than that in terms of my office Microsoft Exchange Server outages mind you, and it happens far more frequently.

      I am not aware that Google has lost any user data ever so far - they use multiple redundant backups in different geographical locales to make loss of data far less likely as well.
  • G-Mail Crashes

    We have Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer. Both browsers were not identifying e-mail digital signatures.
  • There is a problem...

    ...with over-reliance on outside services and an additional problem with unnecessary integration.,

    Firefox doesn't try to "encourage" me to use Thunderbird or other Mozilla products, but the very reason for Chrome appears to be to promote other Google products.
    John L. Ries
    • G-Mail Crash

      Internet Explorer 9's G-Mail also crashed. It was not only Chrome.
  • It was the feds...

    ...turning on their new "capture all data" mode.
    • Undisclosed Recipients

      You might be onto something here. There were (as Google themselves described) "Closed Door" international governmental meetings last week regarding the future of the Internet. Also, personal Gmail users reported seeing "undisclosed recipients" when replying to emails last week. Of course, this has since been resolved, and can no longer be seen. So yes, a "capture all data" filter is not out of the question given the climate of the Net today.
    • Capture all data

      So we should be selling the kitchen sink to buy hard drive manufacturer's stocks?
  • Too much relianct

    It only prove that you if you reply on a single provider, in this case, chrome-gmail-google apps, you will be cut off. A single provide gives you efficiency but decrease in redundancy.
  • It's preety bad whent he Google Cloud ...

    ... experiences a single point of failure. I thought Google was the shining example of cloud services. Better rethink that Chromebook purchase you just made!
    M Wagner
    • Where did you get your facts?

      Where have you seen that it was a single point of failure that caused the problem?
    • Shining example?

      Google has been randomly taking down their services aggressively recently. Have you taken a chance investing heavily in something like Google Wave, iGoogle (Nov 2013 takedown), or that nifty Aardvark? Countless others. All gone. I'd tend to believe Gmail is safe. Probably G-Drive too, but I wouldn't bet my company on it.
  • I never witnessed the e-mail outage, nor the chrome crashes.

    I'll give you a single guess as to why.
    • Good for you

      Hopefully, your preferred providers do a better job, or at least learn some lessons from this incident.

      I'm a cloud-skeptic myself.
      John L. Ries
      • Sooner or later, my "preferred providers" will have similar problems, but,

        my decision to not use Google for anything (other than search, when all else fails), is about their invasion of privacy, which flows through any service which they do provide. I have no doubt that Chrome is good or adequate enough to serve as my browser, if I decided to use it, and I'm pretty sure that my e-mail service would also be adequate enough to compete with what I use now, but, why take the chance that, everything I send and receive through any Google service is being spied on? It's not that I have anything to hide, but, heck, what Google does gives me the same feeling I get when somebody is looking over my shoulder when I'm writing or reading anything.
        • I have much the same concern

          Which is why I pretty much use my Gmail account only for Android admin; don't use Google Docs at all; don't use Chrome (that and because I'm happy with Firefox); and use DuckDuckGo as my default search engine, even on Android.

          But Android is still a lot more respectful of the property rights of device owners than is WindowsRT or iOS (but I am interested in alternatives to all three).
          John L. Ries
        • With Gmail having 425 million active users, quite a logistics problem? LOL

          I can't imagine life without Google Gmail service, features, capacity, security and quality and with over 77,000 archived emails since 2005, I've never experienced even the slightest privacy concern.

          The entire population of the world wouldn't be able to spy on 425 million active users. Common sense dictates they just use aggregate information and use it to target markets exactly like their privacy statement reads. It's no personal invasion of privacy at all, they are so successful and big they don't have to sneak around.
          • Google crash

            Absolutely spot on. Google having an outage for only a few minutes is not going to stop me from using their services. One of their products I could not do without is Google Earth which I have used for so much of my research. Who else has such software for free? Also, I would trust Chrome and Chromium over Microsoft's IE anytime. What about the litany of security holes in MS software and all of its other viral infested rubbish.
          • Can imagine life without Gmail? Yet, the majority of people do go

            through life not needing Google's stuff, including me, and I don't miss them a bit.

            You suffer from "stuckitis" where, once you get a service and keep it for a while, you get used to it and your content will also become part of the service, and then, you're stuck, and won't find it easy to move to something else.

            Me? Well, I have different browsers which I use, and different e-mail providers and I don't keep any valuable content in any of them that makes it prohibitive for me to switch them or leave them altogether.
          • I use Linux, so I understand Gmail stability and security.

            Google couldn't run their operation using Microsoft products. The magnitude of their data centers and total number of servers would be untenable to run using a proprietary system that was insecure at heart and demanded use of third party anti-virus products. Google is married to Linux for it's survival. For Goolges' over one million servers, Linux can be customized, is totally free, has no activation, can be copied and distributed without restriction, is stable and does not require any AV protection to be secure. So, being a Linux user for over 11 years, I have first hand experience of the above, especially noteworthy is 11 years of not using any AV for myself or my family. I use hundreds of labels and filters to manage my 77,000+ emails. Gmail, or anything Google has never created a privacy issue with me, or with anything, since I started using Gmail in 2005.

            Since I'm familiar with Linux, and Google, it takes no effort to see why Android (Linux) has totally captivated the smartphone market. Microsoft really fights OEM's with their proprietary secrecy, restrictions and activations. OEM's can instantly modify and recompile Android if they need to at the last minute. That's an impossibility with Microsoft. Anti-virus protection is not used with Android always a necessity with Microsoft products. I can't imagine having to run and maintain AV on a smartphone when it's totally unnecessary with Android. That's why Radio Shack displays 64 Android phones, 1 Apple phone, and no Windows Phones.