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UPDATED: Google Outages Resolved, Blamed on Data Traffic Jam

Posted by: Rob Hof on May 14, 2009

UPDATE: Google has now explained, sort of, what happened on the company blog:

This is your pilot speaking. Now, about that holding pattern…

5/14/2009 12:15:00 PM
Imagine if you were trying to fly from New York to San Francisco, but your plane was routed through an airport in Asia. And a bunch of other planes were sent that way too, so your flight was backed up and your journey took much longer than expected. That’s basically what happened to some of our users today for about an hour, starting at 7:48 am Pacific time.

An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. As a result, about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions. We’ve been working hard to make our services ultrafast and “always on,” so it’s especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens. We’re very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we’ll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won’t happen again. All planes are back on schedule now.

Posted by Urs Hoelzle, SVP, Operations

Tom Krazit at CNET has a fuller explanation from someone at McAfee, though not confirmed by Google.

The original post:

Widespread reports of outages of various Google services surfaced this morning, including its core search service. Google has acknowledged the problems, which appear to have happened worldwide. The company didn’t add any details on what the problem was, but said in a statement that it had been resolved. As it said on its Twitter account:

The issue affecting some Google services has been resolved. We’re sorry for the inconvenience, and we’ll share more details soon.

The outages affected Google News, Gmail, and possibly other services, judging from Google’s own applications dashboard.

The rapid reports of outages on many blogs and on the microblogging service Twitter—where the No. 2 “top trending topic” is currently “#googlefail,” are a sign of how central Google has become to anyone who works online. While outages of its services are relatively rare, there have been others in recent months, including a major one for Gmail in February.

I didn’t personally experience the outages, despite trying several Google services. So the problems, while clearly widespread, didn’t affect all Google users by any means. ZDNet’s Larry Dignan also reports packet losses affecting Google, meaning data was not getting delivered as expected.

In any case, as Google itself has pointed out, this is quite embarrassing for the company. And while it’s doubtful the outage in itself will have a significant impact on the company’s core search business, Google can’t afford too many of these if it’s to make something of its corporate applications business.

Reader Comments

Hernan Urtubise

May 14, 2009 3:04 PM

I use Gmail as my main personal e-mail account and here in Canada Google runs absolutely normal. Also I had to check Maps Google and was Ok too,


May 14, 2009 3:37 PM

didn't even notice


May 14, 2009 3:45 PM



May 14, 2009 4:36 PM

It amazes me that we have become so spoiled rotten that the free service used by millions had a momentary slow down and we're all upset by this. ITS FREE, it's worldwide and it's up more than my Blackberry service which I pay a premium to have available.
Get over it folks


May 14, 2009 4:48 PM

I've been using Gmail as my personal account for several years now. But I didn't notice that there was a problem that they have encountered right now. And must be thankful that they resolved it in an earlier time that wasn't able to lead in a more complicated ways.

Mike K

May 14, 2009 5:41 PM

The significance is that many people are pushing businesses to use distributed applications like "Google Apps". Imagine having your data inaccessable because of such a glitch. I work in IT and I would never trust a 3rd party with my data. As a side point, the DOJ could be snooping your files with help from Google and you would never know. The search engine is no big deal and google mail shouldn't be depended on to be secure or reliable.

Terry Thomas Photos

May 14, 2009 6:13 PM

I could not get into my Gmail account this morning. I thought it might be my computer so rebooted. By the time I got back up and running I went right into my Gmail account so figured it was something on my end.

Oh well. I guess that comes with being the most popular girl at the dance! LOL!!

Terry Thomas...
the photographer
Atlanta, Georgia USA


May 14, 2009 10:12 PM

Google Rocks.


May 15, 2009 12:01 AM

A. I didn't notice any problem.
B. I wouldn't be too bothered by a problem.
C. Does a 100% reliable alternative exist?
D. The J in DOJ stands for Justice. I have nothing to hide from them.


May 15, 2009 12:27 AM

i didnt even notice anything lol maybe i was just blind sided today. Google must of have some big problems and some people upset.

Truth About Abs Review


May 15, 2009 3:17 AM

If you have offline Docs and Gmail, it's not nearly as big of a problem, as you can do work while you wait until service has been restored, assuming it doesn't last for more than a few hours.

Robert Marbun

May 15, 2009 5:31 AM

It's slower today, and I oftenly got blank when tried to check my AdSense.


May 15, 2009 7:22 AM

> D. The J in DOJ stands for Justice. I have nothing to hide from them.

Its not about what you do or do not wish to hide from the DOJ, but its about the them respecting the basic legal rights of its citizens - that it itself is tasked to uphold.


May 15, 2009 11:10 AM

Exactly my thoughts Brian. It's like when people complain when that bobblehead they got for free for attending a baseball game breaks...who cares, it was free.

Brian P.

May 16, 2009 12:26 AM

Interesting. Guess Google isn't perfect. Just shows mistakes are normal.


May 16, 2009 3:41 AM

Just great, We all got rerouted through some Asian Cyber Space.
Aren't these the guys that hit our sites for espionage purposes.


May 16, 2009 1:16 PM

By using Google for ads, a number of sites created a single point of failure. Pages would not render, waiting on Google; not even blocking the following Google cookies worked:


May 16, 2009 1:17 PM

Hahahah. i just got a google 502 server error. hahaha
Google starts to suck a lot.


May 17, 2009 11:46 PM

I can not notice any abnormal.:-)

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