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Google Comments on Gmail Downtime

Google has written a blog post explaining the cause of Gmail’s downtime yesterday and has assured users that they are taking steps to prevent it from happening again.

The post explains that in the morning some of the servers running Gmail were taken offline for routine maintenance. Normally this would not be a problem, as request routers, servers that direct queries to the correct Gmail servers, would just direct traffic to the other servers that were still online. The problem was due to some recent tweaks that were made to the request servers which put a greater load on them than expected. Not long after 12.30PM PDT, all of the routers had become overloaded. Because of this, queries were not correctly routed to a Gmail server and the service was down. After being alerted to the problem, Google brought up additional request routers to handle the traffic and was able to bring the service back online. IMAP and POP access was not affected because those protocols do not rely on the same routers.

Google has said that they will be increasing request router capacity and making additional tweaks to ensure better uptime in the future.

My advice to people for whom access to their Gmail account is very important is to have an IMAP account set up in an e-mail client to use if the website were to go down again in the future. Windows XP (Outlook Express), Windows Vista (Windows Mail) and Mac OS X (Mail) all come with e-mail clients installed and setting up an IMAP account is a quick process that is well worth it if having access to your Gmail account at all times is important to you.

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