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Tens of thousands of Gmail users have at least temporarily lost months or years of messages and chat dialogues after Google accidentally reset their accounts on Sunday.

The bug left affected an estimated 150,000 users with blank slates. Surfers who re-established accounts were confronted only by welcome to Gmail messages. Any message archive was nowhere to be seen in these cases, at least for now, as illustrated by a screenshot in an article by Engadget on the calamity.

In an update to its App Status Dashboard, Google said it was working on a fix for the issue, which it reckons affects "less than 0.08 per cent" of Gmail users.

Google Mail service has already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users in the near future. Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change.

This issue affects less than 0.08 per cent of the Google Mail userbase. Google engineers are working to restore full access. Affected users will be temporarily unable to sign in while we repair their accounts.

Gmail support forums are filling up with tales of woe from affected users, some of whom have been knocked for six by the email calamity.

The cause of the snafu remains unclear, though it does illustrate the need to back up important messages instead of blindly trusting cloud-based services, despite the fact that locally held data is far more likely to be destroyed by hardware failure or similar data loss.

Google has promised to restore accounts and missing messages without providing a time-scale for this restoration work. ®

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