Google officially apologised to its Gmail users and posted an explanation on the mail service's blog detailing what caused Gmail to stop working on Tuesday 24th.
Acacio Cruz, Gmail Site Reliability Manager, said that the disruption took place when new code implemented on one of Google's European data centers tried to keep data geographically close to its users.
The routine maintenance event meant that this caused another Google Data center in Europe to become overloaded and this caused a chain reaction that like dominos.
Cruz went on to explain that the software bugs have been squashed and that the new codes are progressively being pushed. Also, it seems that Gmail should now apparently include geolocation-capabilities base on your IP address by default.
Google has obviously been affected by the downtime as it runs exclusively on Gmail (ed: this could also explain why Gmail engineers in Europe could not contact their American counterpart).
Although those outage are quite rare, Networkworld points quite rightly that this is the third time that Gmail is out in the last six months and that could possibly make some users rethink about their email strategy.
Gmail guarantees a 99.9 percent monthly uptime for those subscribing to its paid-for Google Apps. The latest issues means that the uptime for February currently stands at around 99.6 percent, prompting Google to give a 15-day worth of money back (that's around £1.80).
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Google has more than 127 million users and this downtime is set to cost the global economy hundreds of millions of dollars in loss productivity (and twitterings). It is highly unlikely that Gmail users actually leave the service for elsewhere and the downtime is actually a small price to pay for the service you get.