No web service is perfect or safe from problems, despite the best teams and the best efforts. Still, some services are more important than others and, depending on their size and how crucial they are to their users, issues affecting them can generate a lot more unwanted attention than others. Such is the case with Gmail which, after a series of highly publicized problems lately, is having problems again leading to a lot of unhappy users.
Some users have reported that they can't access their contacts inside the web mail service while others claim they can't access the service at all. At several times it seemed that the usual workaround of using IMAP to access the accounts wasn't working either. Google is already aware of the problem and has acknowledged it via its app status dashboard while also providing several updates to the situation.
“We're aware of a problem with Google Mail affecting a small subset of users. The affected users are unable to access Google Mail, but we've provided a workaround below. We will provide an update by September 24, 2009 6:29:00 PM UTC+3 detailing when we expect to resolve the problem. Please note that this resolution time is an estimate and may change. You can access Gmail via IMAP,” Google said a couple of hours ago.
“Google Mail service has already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users within the next 1 hours. Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change. The Gmail issue should now be resolved for most of our users. There still might be issues with your contacts,” Google engineers have since updated the situation. Service should have been already fully restored by now but the issue with accessing the contact list is still affecting some users. Still, everything should start working as it should shortly, according to Google.
The problems come just three weeks after Gmail suffered a massive outage causing widespread problems for all users for several hours. At the time, what should have been a routine maintenance job at one of Google's server farms turned into a huge problem after some recent changes to the infrastructure led engineers to severely underestimate the strain the maintenance would put on the system.