Millions affected as Google services hit by bug

Internet search giant issues apology following brief service outage

The company said the problem lasted for up to 30 minutes longer for about 10 per cent of users.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The company said the problem lasted for up to 30 minutes longer for about 10 per cent of users. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Sat, Jan 25, 2014, 14:47

Google suffered a service outage yesterday that briefly took down Gmail, the email service used by hundreds of millions of people and many businesses across the globe.

Google, which first acknowledged the outage at 7.12pm, said a little over an hour later that the problem with Gmail had been resolved.

The company said on its “App Status” dashboard online, which tracks the state of various Google services, that most Google users who use logged-in services including Gmail, Google+, Calendar and Documents found they were unable to access those services “for approximately 25 minutes”.

The company said the problem lasted for up to 30 minutes longer for about 10 per cent of users.

Google said it was working to correct the bug that caused the outage, “as well as putting more checks and monitors in place to ensure that this kind of problem doesn’t happen again”.

The company explained the outage was caused by an internal system generated an incorrect configuration.

The incorrect configuration was then sent to live services over the next 15 minutes, causing users’ requests for their data to be ignored and generating errors.

Gmail, which includes calendar and chat features, has soared in popularity over the past decade to become one of Google’s most successful product offerings. With more than 420 million users, it has begun to make small inroads against Microsoft Exchange in the battle to provide email services for corporate customers as well as individual consumers.

Yahoo , which also runs a rival Internet mail service, seized the moment to post a screenshot of the Gmail error page to Twitter. Yahoo later apologised for the barb and deleted the tweet.

Google users attempting to sign on saw a “temporary error” message and a brief note: “We’re sorry, but your Gmail account is temporarily unavailable. We apologise for the inconvenience and suggest trying again in a few minutes.”