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Stranded by Gmail & Google Apps

Gmail and Google Apps went down. How many are left stranded?

It started just after 2:00pm PST on August 11, 2008. I was on the phone with a friend/client and planned to follow-up with information via email. Oh, “Temporary Error” – hmmm… turns out it was not that temporary.

What does one do when stranded by Gmail and Google Apps?

Here was my trouble-shooting and decision-making process:

  1. Test access to Google Apps and Gmail accounts using various browsers.
  2. Check my connectivity. (All other sites work well; move to next step.)
  3. Check Twitter to see if any of my friends were also down to ensure this was not an isolated incident.
  4. Call client who heavily relies on Google Apps for their email and inform their office so they don’t panic.
  5. Use Yahoo! mail for urgent alternative electronic communication.
  6. Check Twitter stream of conversations and be amazed at how many people are stranded.
  7. Decide that other tasks can be done. (Be thankful I track tasks with a Franklin Planner – old fashioned pencil & paper.)
  8. Pick up phone and call friend who was on list to call today. (Good thing her phone number was in my cell. My contact list is in Google Apps.)
  9. Water the plants and feed the baby doves in our back yard.
  10. Check Twitter stream again. (Oh, boy!)
  11. Write blog post.
  12. Finish non-email-related tasks. (Unfortunately, many of us rely on Google Apps for our files, calendars, etc.)
  13. Determine other alternatives to Google Apps & Gmail dependence for future. Maybe it’s time to look at Zoho. Lucky number 13?

The Twitter stream was amazing. The following image shows a search for “gmail” on search.twitter.com. In a little over an hour, over 7,000 additional conversations were tracked for people discussing their email woes.

Thanks to Twitter, my friends told me Gmail was back up! Just under 2 hours later, it’s been a good chance to think about decision-making process and productivity.

What does one do when Google Apps and Gmail go down in the middle of the work day?

  • Be thankful you didn’t pay for Google Apps Premium Edition!
  • Be thankful Twitter’s “Fail Whale” didn’t appear during Gmail’s outage.
  • Do something non-electronic. (Call a friend!)
  • Remember that all challenges are opportunities to re-evaluate.

ADDED 08.16.08: Post on LifeHacker with tips to back up your Google Apps data.

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Category: Google, News

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9 Responses

  1. Lori says:

    Funny how we take things like email for granted, until it’s taken away from us! Hopefully this won’t happen again. :)

  2. Lori,

    You’re right. How does that song go… “You never know what you’ve lost until it’s gone.”

    What’s amazing, too, is how addicted we can be to email! When I’m focusing on a project, I shut down Twitter and email. Thinking I’m going to do this more often!

    I, too, hope this won’t happen too often.Google provides some great services. It is worth looking at ways to not be so “Goopendent.”

  3. Lori says:

    I know…sometimes I wish I hadn’t chosen a gmail address for my business. But it is handy, because I like many of gmail’s features. So there’s some pros and cons to it.

  4. Lori,

    Agreed that Gmail’s features are cool! I use a couple personal Gmail accounts for Google services as well as Google Apps for my email @ Pixel Position dot com. It’s hard to leave and won’t.

    But if one wanted to leave Google mail hosting through Google Apps, then you wouldn’t have to change the address. It would always be #### @ montessoriforeveryone dot com. (This can all be setup through your domain registrar. See http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/admins/editions.html ) You might want to consider this as you grow.

    It’s a good practice to have a domain-related email account – also looks better on business cards and branding. Of course, this doesn’t solve issues like today when one’s mail server (for multiple accounts) is through Google.

  5. Wild Dingo says:

    oooooohhhh. please don’t get me started…. please….oh….please! ;) you know how much i just “luv” crapoogle. what i don’t get is why not just use your own server POP? keep it simple, like your franklin. the more stuff you want, the more sold you get on crappogle. then you rely on that service so much that when it fails, you have nothin.

    Evil Wears a Purple Collar:

  6. Go Wild Dingo!! I hear the bark! :-) Thanks for the comment!

    I often feel it’s a choice between 2 evils, Google or Microsoft. I have had so many problems with MS Outlook over the years that it now feels like freedom! Now that I’m using IMAP I can’t imagine going back to POP. I check my mail from multiple computers/devices; it’s all synced!! Hey, I’m not defending Google, but Google Apps was the solution I was looking for to rid myself of Outlook. This is the first problem I’ve experienced, but that doesn’t mean it will be the last.

    However, a downside is not having a copy of emails and information on the computer. I think it’s worth exploring alternatives and heed your warnings. The alternative I would look into is Zoho, now that they have mail. I’m sure there are others…just don’t know them. Since I have 5-6 email accounts, it’s time to consolidate (that’s separate issue.)

  7. Wild Dingo says:

    5-6 email accounts? are you crazy or just a glutton for punishment? now things are making some sense about you! ;) tee-hee…

    i can understand the IMAP thing. i’m a little PO’d at Microsoft now too…Outlook has been weird with my conversion to Vista. somehow, i can’t send group emails unless i go in and change every single “display as” name in my contact list. somehow that field got corrupted in the change over from xp to vista. ya. lovely, huh. don’t know how to fix that other than to literally change “display as” field in outlook. and Vista is a POS in my opinion. even microsoft’s own apps don’t work seamlessly with it! Its a complete joke when I get error messages for IE or Word not working/shutting down. anyway…just another story and another reason for my long break. hoping i’m timing my return from long sabbatical when a new system upgrade fixes everything! (hey one can have their dreams!)

  8. Funny to consider how valuable a time off can be to help figure out tech issues. Do you see me salivating? Dreams are important, however! Go, girl!

    Many email accounts come from many adventures and learning curves. Days off are needed to consolidate! :-) I do, however, use only one email account solely for all online shopping and SPAM.

    I have to return a call this morning to a friend who is also having Outlook issues – sigh. Add Vista on top of that? I feel for you. I’m looking at an Intel Mac as my next purchase. Vista knows of their issues but they will be using the same core through 2012. That would be a long sabbatical!

  9. Google has PPC ads that lead to this blog post, Google’s apology for taking Gmail & Google Apps down last week:
    http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/we-feel-your-pain-and-were-sorry.html

    They mention they saw our Twitter posts!