Google Docs glitch locks users out

Some Google Docs users have found themselves unable to get at their files for more than a week following an as-yet unresolved issue with the cloud-based productivity suite.

The glitch, which appears to be affecting people who use both Google Apps and the stand-alone Google Docs web-based services, manifests itself as constant redirection attempts when a user attempts to view their documents. Rather than the familiar list of files, affected users are receiving an error message that prevents them from going any further.

According to a post from Google employee Rebecca on the official support forum, the issue was originally thought to only affect users with more than one Google Docs account, "especially if one of those accounts is an Apps account," and suggested workarounds included "either log out of the account that you are not currently trying to use for Docs access or use different browsers for each account."

Since then, however, users have come forward suggesting that the problem can occur even if the user only has a single account.

The support thread was opened on October 21st, but posts continue to pile in today - indicating that the issue has been ongoing for more than a week. Google Apps users, who pay for the privilege of using the company's cloud-based services, receive a service level agreement as part of their contract that guarantees them 99.9 per cent uptime. Sadly, it looks like Google is taking advantage of a loophole in the terms to wriggle out of that particular agreement.

Courtney Hohne, speaking to Australian Business Traveller on behalf of Google Australia, has declared that the flaw does not represent an outage according to the terms of the SLA - meaning that Google gets to take its sweet time about fixing the flaw without having to worry about compensating its paying customers.

At the time of writing, the issue remains unresolved, with a Google spokesperson stating, "I assure you we're actively working to get it fixed as quickly as possible."

The glitch is proving an embarrassment for the company, and a chilling reminder of the risks of relying on cloud computing - at least, for services like Google Docs where local document caching doesn't take place.