Internet frustration as Google struggles with outages

Local | Stella Wong 14 Mar 2019

Google experienced global-wide outages for hours yesterday, with Hongkongers too joining those reporting issues with Gmail, Google Drive and Google Maps.

Websites that track Google services' problems and outages showed a spike in users reporting problems from about 10am. Thousands of users reported problems such as failures to access or attach files in Gmail.

Gmail has more than one billion users around the world, and the issues affected users around the globe, including United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.

The issues also affected Hong Kong, with a user reporting she could not share anything on Google Drive in the morning. She thought her folders were experiencing problems until Google announced the outage.

"Apart from that, I sent an e-mail with a Word file attached, but the receiver said he could not open my file," she said.

"Once again I thought it was a problem with my own file," she added.

A Standard reporter opened an e-mail at about 11am yesterday, but an attached picture could not be shown properly. The attachment could only be shown properly at 3pm.

The G Suite Status Dashboard, an official page offering Google services' performance information, noted at 10:53am that the company was "investigating reports of an issue" with Gmail and Google Drive.

"The affected users are able to access Gmail, but are seeing error messages, high latency, and/or other unexpected behavior," the statement said.

In a later note at 12.44pm, Google said it was "continuing to investigate this issue." The company said users would have issues "accessing or attaching files in various products," including Gmail and Drive.

For e-mail, users may experience issues like "attaching or accessing attachments, as well as accessing and saving draft e-mails and sending e-mails," while of Google Drive, there were issues with uploading and downloading files, Google said.

Google Maps also appeared to be experiencing issues, with users reporting seeing black screens instead of images of their location when turning on Street View mode. But the issue was not confirmed by Google on its dashboard.

In addition, Google's official TeamYouTube account on Twitter tweeted at 10.12am that YouTube was "working on a fix," if users are experiencing "new video uploads stuck processing" and "videos showing playback errors."

It tweeted at 12.40pm that the YouTube services were "back to normal."

Google announced at 2.13pm that the problems with Gmail and Google drive were resolved.

"We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support," it wrote.

"Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better."

Google did not explain the cause of the outage.

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