Gmail Outage Causes Panic

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Around 38,000 users of Google’s Gmail found themselves locked out of their accounts early this week in a disruption that caused a fair amount of panic among users who have become dependent on the service. A mysterious glitch in the system appeared to reset members’ accounts and showed blank in-boxes to the horror of the users involved. The company made a statement promising to restore all user’s accounts by the end of the day Monday and said that the problem was due to an unknown bug, but also promised to provide an explanation for the disruption by the middle of the week.

Thousands of customers went on Twitter to express their confusion and frustration while searching for information and answers concerning the problems. The situation should be a stark reminder to consumers that even in the days of “cloud computing”, where information is theoretically backed up on a series of inter-connected computer systems, that things can still go wrong and that things aren’t as fluffy in cloud land as they might have been led to believe.

Many of those commenting on the situation through Twitter have suggested that Gmail users should download the service known as Backupify, which provides backup for cloud computing based applications such as Facebook and Gmail.

By and large, though, cloud computing systems are quite reliable and have made the cost of maintaining large databases much lower, while providing much higher security for users. The cost of web hosting, partly due to cloud computing but also the stiff competition between providers has made reliable and cheap web hosting available to everyone. In fact, cloud computing systems are responsible for the fact that Gmail customers will soon have all their emails back safe and sound, at least until the next hiccup occurs, which it undoubtedly will from time to time.

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