Update: It looks like various Google services are starting to come back again, but with some glitches (such as the address bar in Gmail not working correctly). A Google spokesperson has now provided us directly with a statement about the outage:
“Yesterday, at 3.47 AM PT, Google experienced an authentication system outage for approximately 45 minutes due to an internal storage quota issue. Services requiring users to log in experienced high error rates during this period. The authentication system issue was resolved at 4:32 AM PT. All services are now restored. We apologize to everyone affected, and we will conduct a thorough follow-up review to ensure this problem cannot recur in the future”.
In all, it looks like a huge range of Google services was down for about an hour today. That hour crossed into business operation times in multiple markets, leading to a slight drop in pre-market trading for parent company Alphabet.
When Google’s services go down, billion of users are impacted. That’s because Gmail, YouTube have more than a billion users on a monthly basis. Some users reported seeing a 503 error when they tried to login to their Gmail account. Others saw a 500 error when they try to open Gmail. Some even saw a message saying their Google account could not be found.
Some of the largest companies in the US rely on Google services, including Uber, Netflix and Twitter.
It’s also an alarming reminder of just how far Google reaches and how many of our services — productivity, entertainment, and home/utility — are tied up with a single, proprietary provider. Coincidentally, Microsoft’s Outlook is also experiencing some problems too.
The outage was global, according to DownDetector, and issues spiked around 5 PM IST on Monday
Were all services and users affected?
With a service of the scale and reach of Google — just Gmail and YouTube together have over 3.5 billion global users — it is now increasingly rare to see an outage that affects all services and users. This is because users, even from single geography, are hosted over multiple servers across the world. And even on these servers, there are backups that activate quickly if something goes wrong.
However, the Monday outage was not really localized and was among the larger ones experienced in recent times. At its peak, DownDetector.com recorded over 1,12,000 issues on YouTube and almost 40,000 for Gmail from users in different parts of the world.
How important is this outage?
The outage gains importance given that there has been a surge in users across all online services, and certainly in those offered by Google. There will be questions asked on whether the backend infrastructure of these companies is strong enough to withstand this spike in load, that too over a large period of time. Companies that depend on Google for backend services will be worried about the impact of such outages, especially a long one.
Netizens took to Twitter to share memes and jokes after multiple Google services faced an outage Monday. Hashtags #YouTubeDown, #Googledown, #Gmaildown dominated Twitter trends as many shared memes and jokes reacting to the outage.
Take a look here: