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How To Survive (Another) Gmail Fail

by Blogger on ‎09-24-2009 09:43 AM

For the second time this month, Gmail has gone down, sending legions of geeks into a cloud spinning tizzy.

When it happened on September 1, Michael Kwan posted a simple question to Twitter "What would you do if Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail were all down at the same time?"  [Michael Kwan]

It's a shuddering thought for some, but also a poignant comment on our reliance on the web for communications - both business and personal.

The Gmail fails are particularly disturbing as Google grows larger every day, urging us to place our data within the cloud.  Email on Gmail, videos on YouTube, photos on Google's Picasa or Yahoo!'s Flickr are becoming personal and industry standards.  The move away from data and software on our local computer to using browser based software and cloud stored data has placed our faith in 3rd parties to reliably maintain our businesses.

Solving the first outage was easy as Gmail was still accessible via your iPhone and widgets if you couldnt access it in the browser.

"1. Log into your page 2. Add the Gmail widget 3. STFU"
[Sarah Lane]
"P.S. Have I mentioned today how awesome it is having offline email when you use Gmail + IMAP? Just sayin'."
[Ryan Block]

The outage today affected contact lists and email acces, but again, users accessing Gmail via IMAP were still able to communicate.

So what is IMAP?

"IMAP, or Internet Message Access Protocol, lets you download messages from Gmail's servers onto your computer so you can access your mail with a program like Microsoft Outlook Express or Apple Mail, even when you aren't connected to the Internet. IMAP creates a constant connection between mail clients (desktop and/or mobile) and Gmail."

To get IMAP enabled for your Gmail, follow the instructions at this page.

To keep up to date on Twitter and/or Gmail outages (the ones that send most of us into a state of shock), bookmark the status blogs for each company (Twitter and Google). Both do a good job of owning outages and detailing the problems and what they're doing to work on them.

There is a growing belief that internet access has become a utility.  We take electricity and plumbing for granted, and when those go down our lives are greatly disrupted.  Web (and cloud application) access has achieved that same level of dependance for us now.

When the power goes out, we get nostalgic and snuggle close and light candles and wait it out for the few hours that it takes before the power comes back on.  So when it comes to web outages we need to get old school and react the same way.

"Ok, seriously, if you're having a Gmail outage, and there's nothing you can do about it - step away from the computer and go for a walk :smileyhappy:"
[Matthew Knell]

Mashable offers a cheeky solution as well with 5 Things To Do When Gmail Is Down.

Cmon, the sky isn't falling, it's just email.

catch the buzz ... pass it on.


by Blogger on ‎09-24-2009 10:06 AM

It's worth noting that if you've got Gears installed and you've given Gmail permission to use it, it will synchronize every time you log in, ensuring that you've got up to date access to your mail on your PC or Mac. This can be handy if you've got to access something on the run and you're not sure of WiFi or 3G (*sigh* I wish) availability.


It won't give you the ability to communicate immediately, but you'll have access to your existing mail and your contacts; you can catch up on your inbox material and write those notes and letters that you've been meaning to get to. Think of it as IMAP but without needing an external program; Gears will even politely ask if you want a desktop icon for Gmail - handy, as you can launch Gmail like a program, straight from there.

by Blogger on ‎09-24-2009 10:34 PM

It's been pretty interesting how IMAP (and POP to some extent) has remained immune (knock on wood) to these failures. I stumbled on this TidBITS post on how to tweak Apple's Mail to work even better with GMail's IMAP setup: . I put a bunch of these tips into practice already and Mail is just working great.


Now as another note, I think it's worth reminding folks to have alternate (non-Google reliant) ways of getting messages out. Even if it's an email address from Yahoo or your webhost or even Yammer for teams, you need a back up to relying on Gmail and Google.

by Exalted Expert / Community Ambassador on ‎03-31-2013 09:33 PM
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