Gmail outage first since new offline capability

Once again, Google's Gmail service experienced an outage, this time affecting users in Europe and Asia. IDG News reports that starting at around 10:30 a.m. GMT (5:30 a.m ET), many Gmail users were locked out of their inboxes or experiencing very slow access times. And though the outage does nothing to underscore the reliability of Google's cloud-based e-mail service, it does emphasize the importance for serious users to download Gears and get up and running on offline Gmail.

According to the official Gmail support site, the issue is currently resolved for most users. Under a heading of today's date (2/24/2009), a message says:

A number of users have had difficulty accessing Gmail today. The majority are now able to access their email accounts again and we're hoping to have service restored for the remainder very soon. We know how important Gmail is to our users, so we take issues like this very seriously, and we apologise for the inconvenience.

But Google's apology, heartfelt though it may be, does little to appease power users who certainly missed critical e-mail during the outage. But at least those users have an alternative now that Google has made offline Gmail available. This is the first widespread Gmail outage since the offline capability was unveiled last month, so it will be interesting to see how users fared. Could the new offline capability blunt the impact of the cloud-based service outage?

While it's not the height of productivity to be locked out of your mail inbox, it's at least somewhat palatable if you can do some work offline. Let us know what you think. Did you experience the outage today--and if so, did the offline capability help you out?

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