Google down: World's largest search engine suffers outage

Social media was set ablaze on Friday morning as Google Search suffered an intermittent outage that prevented users from conducting searches or accessing services through the main Google website.

At 10:30am BST on 4 July, the website went offline with a "500" error that affected computer browsers only.

As users took to Twitter to vent their frustrations, it became clear that the mobile version of Google was unaffected, alongside the Google mobile search apps and Google now. Likewise, other services including Gmail and Google Calendar were safe from the outage.

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When attempting to access the Search website from their browsers, users were confronted with a notice reading "500. That's an error. The server encountered an error and could not complete your request."

This error message 500 suggests that the outage was down to an internal server problem that affected both the google.com and google.co.uk websites. While most users in the States should be relatively unaware of any problems - as the outage hit at 2am local time on the first day of the Independence Day holiday - the error occurred at one of the peak times of UK traffic.

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It's been a long time since Google search was last seriously affected. In July 2004 a variant of the MyDoom virus was used to contact its servers repeatedly, meaning that searchers in Europe received a "server error" message. Ten years on, however, user numbers have multiplied exponentially meaning that the slightest issue could affect millions of users.

As Google struggles with the implications of Europe's "right to be forgotten" legislation, the timing of a search engine outage could not be more unfortunate.

Google is yet to comment on the issue.