Gmail issue empties out 150,000 accounts

Having your data in the cloud can be a good way to avoid data loss in the event of a hardware failure. Not having control over your own backups also has its downsides, however. Engadget reports that 150,000 unlucky Gmail users became keenly aware of that fact yesterday morning, logging into their accounts only to find them entirely emptied out.

The accounts reportedly looked as if they’d been reset, prompting users with welcome messages normally reserved for new accounts. Google quickly provided updates on its App Status dashboard. The latest update, as of 7:40 PM on Sunday night, sounds reasonably hopeful:

Google Mail service has already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users in the near future. Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change.
This issue affects less than 0.08% of the Google Mail userbase. Google engineers are working to restore full access. Affected users will be temporarily unable to sign in while we repair their accounts.

Neither of my Gmail accounts seem to have been hit, but this little incident still makes me feel a tad uneasy. Cloud storage is, after all, only as reliable as the cloud it’s on—if the cloud bursts, well, there’s rain. And possibly lightning.

Yeah, that metaphor made more sense in my head.

Point is, I’d love it if Google provided an easy, straightforward way to backup user data locally. My personal Gmail account only takes up about 600MB, which I’d be able to download in a few minutes and upload back into the cloud in an hour and a half in case of an emergency. Right now, though, if Google loses my data, it’s gone for good.

Comments closed
    • Myrmecophagavir
    • 9 years ago

    I still run Outlook Express every few days on my old XP box and download copies of the mails from Gmail, leaving them on the server. 15 years of non-webmail client usage means I’m reluctant to leave my data purely online, precisely in case of this sort of disaster! OE mail rules sort them into the same subfolders as my Gmail filters. Couldn’t easily repopulate my online account with this, but that’s not so important to me.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    This is a feature not a bug… email is a pain 🙂

    • FireGryphon
    • 9 years ago

    Isn’t there already a local backup option for Gmail? I’ve used it.

    • Buzzard44
    • 9 years ago

    This reminds me of a bunch of my friends who said it was ridiculous to keep using hotmail, and that I should have switched to gmail.

    As long as I get my e-mails, I’m not concerned.

    And yeah, backup.

      • HisDivineShadow
      • 9 years ago

      Why not use both? Both support forwarding and the like? Toss in your old ISP email, your work email, and you’ve got a lot of bases covered.

      Btw, your friends are probably still liking and loving gmail, not even hearing about a rare server outage that impacted less than 1% of gmail users. That was corrected rather quickly for a service that is free.

      Just sayin’.

    • jcw122
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t see the issue as long as Google has backups HDDs for their own primary HDDs…it’s no better or worse than our own backup systems.

      • HisDivineShadow
      • 9 years ago

      You’d think everyone else would know this. It’s not like Google’s new to this whole cloud business, right?

    • JerTech
    • 9 years ago

    I keep Gmail and other cloud services backed up with Backupify. No worries here.

    [url<]http://www.backupify.com[/url<]

    • Sam125
    • 9 years ago

    I have two gmail accounts and both are fine for me. Google’s problem with their cloud seems similar to T-mobile’s problem with their Sidekick cloud a few years ago which IIRC was a non-issue after service was restored.

    • Fragnificent
    • 9 years ago

    I always back up everything I own, I don’t trust other companies to do it for me. Also, Gmail sucks. lol.

      • Fragnificent
      • 9 years ago

      Lulz at the downvotes. That’s fine but my email isn’t gone. so… yeah. 😀

    • bjm
    • 9 years ago

    Need to backup your Gmail?

    Simple. Open a Hotmail/Live account, enable POP on your Gmail, and then have your Live/Hotmail account POP it. It’ll download the entire All Mail folder. Need to backup your Live account? Open another Gmail account, whose account will probably reside on another server than your current account, to POP your Live account (or just have multiple Gmail accounts to POP each other, but its not quite as isolated).

    Of course, if you use folders, you’ll lose the entire structure but you’ll still have all your messages. (Tip: I’m convinced that search is better than folders and you should be to. Nobody should “browse” their email history, only unauthorized people should).

      • MadManOriginal
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah dude, organizing things sucks. Having everything in a big heap is just so much better! And when you’ve got thousnds of emails getting the right one just works straight away every time with a search.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 9 years ago

        lol. Almost hard to tell it’s sarcasm. Also, exactly my point on using windows search.

          • bjm
          • 9 years ago

          While I can understand your point of view on Windows Search vs. organizing your files locally, don’t get it confused here. I like storing email in one large heap, but my local files are structured and organized far better than any OS search technologies can find them. (Edit: And yes, I prefer the classic menu over the Windows 7 menu for organizational purposes, but I still do like the Windows 7 menu for other reasons).

          It’s simple really: applications, binaries such as music and videos, older files that have odd extensions, and all thousands of file types that you have on your computer simply do not contain the metadata necessary to make it all easily searchable. Search technologies are improving local search, but its still not at the level where I would prefer it over hand-made hierarchical organized folders. And I doubt it will get there either. The data that is being searched is simply not embedded with enough metadata (nor are they designed to be) to lend it self to a full search-only workflow.

          The same isn’t true for emails. Like I said in my other post, all emails contain a sender, receiver, subject, body, even file size, whether it contains an attachment or not, whether or not it contains a *.doc or a *.jpg, etc. etc. etc.

          Yes, email search is awesome. And so am I.

            • poulpy
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]Yes, email search is awesome. And so am I.[/quote<] You, sir, just won youself some more internetz points right there!

          • MadManOriginal
          • 9 years ago

          Kind of…the difference is that with ‘Windows search,’ at least to run a program, I usually know exactly what I’m looking for which makes it quite simple to just type it in to the start menu search bar, no digging through a few layers of folders for things that aren’t icons on my desktop. It’s more of a ‘typing shortcut’ than an actual search for me, although I do sometimes have to search for files it’s very rare because I keep them organized 🙂

          When searching email it’s a different story depending upon what I’m looking for even the best search leaves me checking at least a few emails’ text to see if that’s the one I *really* wanted.

        • bjm
        • 9 years ago

        When it comes to email, you are damn right organizing sucks compared to searching a big heap. You can create hundreds of folders, but it will never match the efficiency of the already present meta-data contained within emails. The entire email itself is practically meta-data with the exception of maybe binary attachments (but even those can be searched). The email already has information on when it was sent, received, who it was sent to, and from, a subject, and a body. If you can’t find an email by searching for those variables, then well.. eh.. maybe you are simply not as awesome as me.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    uh-oh spaghetti-O

    • Sargent Duck
    • 9 years ago

    Personally, I’m all about Skydrive. 25GB of on-line storage connected to your hotmail/msn/live account. The problems of cloud storage are still going to exist here as well with Google though. Which is why I use skydrive as a back-up for my hard drive.

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 9 years ago

    Use Thunderbird for backup, and I doubt Google really lost all those email, especially since they save them all for personal ads, and “anti-terrorism” spying, where we the citizens are the “terrorists” and have no fourth amendment rights. (Read the MIAC report.)

      • ew
      • 9 years ago

      Thunderbird has become quite excellent recently.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 9 years ago

    You can “backup” via IMAP.

      • TaBoVilla
      • 9 years ago

      yes, best option for email woes

      • bjm
      • 9 years ago

      Depending on the timing of the data loss and the time of when you open your email client, IMAP could have just as easily wiped the data on the email clients also.

        • swaaye
        • 9 years ago

        IMAP is scary that way, indeed…

          • blastdoor
          • 9 years ago

          Very true. Fortunately for me, though, I also have my TimeMachine backup, so I’ve got multiple levels of backup in case google screws me over. I’ve never trusted google with either privacy or data security.

        • ew
        • 9 years ago

        That’s why I keep a weeks worth of daily backups.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      Yep, this is what I do, too. I rarely log into the actual Gmail site unless I’m at work.

    • yogibbear
    • 9 years ago

    S_()*_$+@()_)!

    Oh wait i always wear protection when it comes to my gmail.

    • KarateBob
    • 9 years ago

    I hope google’s backup clouds can un-malloc this mess.

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