Gmail in widespread outage, also caused Chrome browser crashes

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.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
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.

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