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Gmail users howl over Halloween outage

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Updated Some Gmail users say they've been unable to access to the service for long stretches today and yesterday, though Google has not acknowledged any problem on its "Apps Status Dashboard."

Australia-based user Jason Reed says he's been without access for at least 12 hours today, and others posting to Google's support forums here and here say they've had trouble logging into the service for 24 hours or more.

"More than 30 hours without email...totally unacceptable. I'll definitely have to reconsider my selection of gmail for my primary email account. It may be I have to pay for an account but hell will freeze over before I pay one penny to Google after this debacle," says one poster.

According to these users - and others posting to Twitter - Gmail returns the error code "502" when they attempt to log in.

Google did not immediately respond to our request for comment when we contacted the company on Saturday evening Pacific time. And the company has yet to respond to users on its support forums.

Jason Reed says that although he can't access the Gmail web interface, he does not have problems with POP access - shades of the sweeping Google outage on September 1. But others say that POP and IMAP are also down.

Some of the affected users say they're actually paying to use the service. And one user says that although he represents an organization with a premier account - complete with a phone support option - no one is answering Google's support line. Indeed, our call to Google's support line indicates the company does not answer the phone after business hours. But the support does invite you leave a message and provide an account pin number. Google advertises 24/7 phone support for premier accounts, which cost about $50 per user per year.

This Halloween outage is not anywhere near as widespread as the much-discussed September 1 Gfail, a 100-minute outage that affected a "majority" of users. But at least for some users, it has extended for an unusually long period of time, and Google has yet to acknowledge the issue. This may be down to the outage occurring over a weekend - and a Halloween weekend at that.

One user says the latest outage doesn't compare to the September downtime. "September 1 was a Tuesday. Google ees were around so they fixed the problem the same day. Second, the IMAP protocol also does not work [this time]. So if you thought you would still be able to receive email through your iphone, blackberry, thunderbird, outlook etc., you are wrong.

"Absolutely and completely unacceptable." ®

Update

Google has now acknowledged the issue on its Apps status dashboard. A The following message appeared on the dashboard at 11:50am Pacific time: "Our team is continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by November 1, 2009 4:00:00 PM UTC-8 with more information about this problem. Thank you for your patience. Note: Less than 0.001% of Gmail users are affected by this issue."

In response to our original inquiry, a company spokesperson pointed to the message.

Update 2

At 5pm Pacific time, a post to Google's Apps status dashboard said the company believes the issue has been fixed: "The problem with Google Mail should be resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support."

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