Google 'feels your pain' after the latest Gmail outage

Yesterday, many Gmail users found themselves unable to access their mailboxes, as Gmail returned a "Temporary Error (502)." Google later posted an apology in the official Gmail Blog that gave a clue as to how big the outage was.

"We don't usually post about problems like this in our blog, but we wanted to make an exception in this case since so many people were impacted," Gmail Product Manager Todd Jackson posted. About 20 million users visit Gmail daily, and there are more than 100 million accounts in total.

A number of prominent bloggers were affected by the outage, some of whom claim to be users of Google Apps Premier Edition that has a "99.9% uptime guarantee." If taken literally, the 0.1% in the guarantee would constitute 8.76 hours per year.

The last outage of Google Apps which took place earlier this month locked out users for a total of 15 hours, and yesterday's Gmail outage was "officially" one hour and 45 minutes long, though some users complained their service didn't return for over two hours.

As it turned out, popular micro-blogging site Twitter was the place where many aired their complaints, ranging from the befuddled to the enraged.

According to Jackson, the issue was caused by "a temporary outage in our contacts system that was preventing Gmail from loading properly." Coincidentally, the contacts system was recently upgraded to separate a user's hand-entered contacts from the auto-created ones. Whether the outage was related to this upgrade has not been confirmed.

Google's popular mail service has seen numerous outages over the years, and its indefinite "Beta" status has frequently been called into question.

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