See updates below
Some Gmail users are reporting a major problem with Google's email service--specifically, that all of their emails, labels, themes, folders, and other personalized settings have all been erased.
Several Gmail help forums were filled with users who had experienced this problem. Users reported that they were able to receive new messages, but that none of their previous email exchanges were appearing. Contacts appear to have been preserved and the issue only seems to be affecting a subset of Gmail users ("less than .29% of the Google Mail userbase," according to Google).
"I have lost ALL on my emails/folders etc. from gmail. Why would this happen? How can I restore everything?" wrote user bkishan.
"I was on my eMail normal and when I refreshed all my account settings, eMail, labels, contacts etc has just disappeared. I was running at 80% capacity is that anything to do with it? Is there a way that one can restore all of that?" asked another.
LibertyLondonGirl wrote in a blog post, "It is clear from the Gmail forums and Twitter that hundreds if not thousands of people have had their Gmail accounts compromised. A firm believer in the concept of cloud computing, it never occurred to me that my Gmail account could one day disappear."
Google wrote at 3:09PM ET on February 27, "We're investigating reports of an issue with Google Mail. We will provide more information shortly."
At little over an hour later, the company added, "Our team is continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by February 27, 2011 5:20:00 PM UTC-5 with more information about this problem. Thank you for your patience. This issue affects less than .29% of the Google Mail userbase."
A user described as a Google employee and Gmail specialist wrote in one of the help forums,
We're looking into this issue right now. I know how important your messages are to you. Thanks for reporting on the forum.
We'll continue to update the post as more information becomes available.
Are you experiencing this problem? Let us know how this has affected you in the comments below.
UPDATE 2/27/2011 6:10PM ET: Google posted an update to its App Status blog reading, "Our team is continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by February 27, 2011 7:44:00 PM UTC-5 with more information about this problem. Thank you for your patience. For those Gmail users reporting missing messages, our engineers are working to restore them as soon as possible."
UPDATE 2/27/2011 11:10PM ET: A Google spokesperson told The Huffington Post the company has revised its estimate of the users affected and now believes less than .08% of Gmail users were affected. The spokesperson added, "We've already fixed the problem for some individuals. Our engineers are working as quickly as possible and we hope to have everything back to normal soon. We're very sorry for the inconvenience to our customers."
UPDATE 2/28/2011 8:13 AM ET: Users affected by the wipe are now reporting that their accounts have been disabled entirely and that all access to gmail functions such as Calendar, Google Reader and Documents has been blocked. Email sent to disabled accounts bounces back with a message that "Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently." Users in Google help forums are not pleased. As user Sarasparks wrote in one message thread:
My account has also been disabled. I am not happy with how they are handling this. I shudder to think of what correspondence my business is missing while the account is down.
As of 8:00 AM ET, Google's App Status dashboard read only:
Our team is continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by February 28, 2011 10:00:00 AM UTC-5 with more information about this problem. Thank you for your patience.
UPDATE 2/28/2011 2:43 PM ET: Google claims that the problem will be resolved for all users within 12 hours. From the Apps Status dashboard:
We have revised downward our estimate of the total number of users affected by this issue from 0.08% to 0.02% of Google Mail users. Access has been restored for one third of the affected users. The remaining 0.013% of accounts are being restored on an ongoing basis, and we expect the issue to be resolved for everyone within 12 hours.
UPDATE: 3/1/2011 9:59AM ET: Google has published a blog post addressing the issue, apologizing for it, and explaining what caused the disappearance of users' messages.
So what caused this problem? We released a storage software update that introduced the unexpected bug, which caused 0.02% of Gmail users to temporarily lose access to their email. When we discovered the problem, we immediately stopped the deployment of the new software and reverted to the old version.
Google added, "The good news is that email was never lost and we’ve restored access for many of those affected. Though it may take longer than we originally expected, we're making good progress and things should be back to normal for everyone soon."
Some users affected by the bug were still unable to log in to their accounts on Tuesday morning and could not access emails, documents, Google Reader, or other tools. They were told by Google, "We are currently working on your account because an error occurred with your mail storage. Your account data and messages are safe. However, you won’t be able to log in until our team is finished. We can’t predict exactly how long this will take, but if you are still unable to access your account in 48 hours, please contact us [...]'