Gmail Glitch Wipes Out 150,000 Accounts

Published February 28, 2011


Tens of thousands of Gmail users found themselves locked out of their accounts Sunday, a glitch Google engineers were still struggling to fix and fully understand Monday morning. 

Initial reports suggested as many as half a million accounts were compromised, the years’ worth of e-mails potentially permanently erased. Google acknowledged the issue at 3:09 p.m. EST Sunday, eventually determining that the problem affected just 0.08% of users, or about 150,000 accounts. And as of 10 a.m. EST Monday, the company was still working to fully resolve the issue.

“Google Mail service has already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users in the near future,” the company wrote on its Apps Status Dashboard. “Google engineers are working to restore full access. Affected users will be temporarily unable to sign in while we repair their accounts.” 

The company did not offer additional details. Meanwhile, Google engineers continue to study the service outage, according to a series of notes on the company’s status page.

“Our team is continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by February 28, 2011 11:00:00 AM UTC-5 with more information about this problem. Thank you for your patience,” reads the latest status update.

Meanwhile, locked-out and livid users have taken to the company’s user forums in their quest for help.

“Yesterday I had exactly the same issues reported here: deletion of ALL mails, archives, labels, filters, pop/imap settings for alternative e-mail addresses, blackberry. It looks like a brand new Gmail account with 7.5GB storage space as opposed to the 25GB I paid for,” one user wrote. 

“Google support help please!” wrote another desperate Gmail user. “I cannot access my account, there is really valuable information there for me, this account have been my principal account for 4 years, I am really afraid to think about how much data I lost.”

Tech site Engadget suggested that the event should serve as a wake-up call for users: Even services that work in the “cloud” — services that are accessible only online, through a browser — can potentially fail. This latest incident underscores the need to back up files and data regularly.



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