Gmail and Google services hit by one-hour outage

Google suffered an hour-long global outage yesterday morning that affected many of its services, including e-mail, calendar, chat and videoconferencing.

The disruption hit users at a time when they needed the tools the most to stay productive amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is also the second time in less than two months that Google services were down.

From around 9am yesterday, many users, including in Singapore, had trouble sending e-mails via Gmail, while others had to endure lengthy waits to load their inboxes.

Private educator Gwendoline Quek, 38, had issues with Gmail for about 20 minutes.

"My e-mails refused to go out, they kept getting stuck in the outbox. It was very frustrating because I had some urgent messages I needed to send out," she told The Straits Times.

Google confirmed on its status dashboard at 9.30am yesterday that it was aware of problems with a number of its services.

At 10.07am, it posted an update to say all problems should be resolved.

The tech giant apologised for the inconvenience and said: "System reliability is a top priority at Google and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better."

Google did not respond to ST's queries on the cause of the outage.

Mr Urs Holzle, senior vice-president of technical infrastructure at Google, said on Twitter yesterday: "A pool of servers that route traffic to application backends crashed, and users on that particular pool experienced the outage... We're very sorry... We're working on a postmortem to ensure this won't happen again."

According to a live outage map by third-party Web monitoring firm Downdetector, the outage affected mostly users across South-east Asia, India, Japan, Australia, and the United States. In Singapore, it recorded over 1,200 reports of problems with Gmail - the majority reported issues with logging in and receiving messages.

Mr Loo Wee Teck, global head of consumer electronics at market research firm Euromonitor International, said: "While outages are unavoidable, the issues seemed to be occurring too frequently for Google, which is bad for their reputation.

"Free users do not have other alternatives and will have to put up with the outages, (but) companies will be looking to diversify and hedge its cloud-based services, opening up opportunities for competitors like Microsoft and Zoom."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2020, with the headline Gmail and Google services hit by one-hour outage. Subscribe