Gmail Service Fails Worldwide, World Goes Nuts

You've probably noticed, Gmail is down. It's not just down for you - it's down across the US and the world, with reports coming in from Europe, Canada, and India that one of the planet's largest email networks has suddenly failed. The only thing missing is any information from Google. Ironically, Google's App dashboard was one of the last places to get the news; the website showed Google Mail as being up when I began writing this story, then flipped to "Disrupted" partway through.

Why? Who knows. Jokes about someone unplugging a server don't really apply, we're talking about a worldwide service with service in dozens of countries. Outages like this can be caused by anything from deliberate sabotage to stupid routing. Remember in 2008, when all requests to YouTube were accidentally sucked into a black hole after Pakistan decided to filter the video service? That sort of problem could be in play here.

Unfortunately, Googling the error codes (Temporary Error 500, Error Code 93) does not seem to provide any kind of useful information. If Google has ever clarified what an "Error Code 93" is, they haven't done it publicly.

The amusing thing is that, depending on how much of your productivity relies on Gmail, this is either a huge boon or a major problem. Falling into the latter category, I'm reduced to repeatedly refreshing the website, hoping the Google gods will grace us with a solution sooner, rather than later. It's always disquieting to find out just how much we rely on certain services for this kind of basic communication. It's not that I don't have other email accounts -- but without knowing whose been writing, I can't very well write them back. And without access to the address books that are baked into Gmail, I can't automatically pull their data to write them from a different location.

This sort of failure happens from time to time, most recently last fall, but that outage wasn't worlwide as this one is reported to be. Exactly how significant the failure is, or what caused it is still unknown; we'll update this post if more information becomes available.