Google Services Down For An Hour

John Lister's picture

Multiple Google services were unavailable for almost an hour on Monday. It appears the problem was with the authentication system for user accounts rather than Google's servers themselves being unavailable.

The Google search engine was unaffected, but that was about the only good news for the company. Affected services included Gmail, Calendar and office tools such as Google Docs. (Source:

The effect depended on the importance of user accounts. Some tools such as Calendar were completely inaccessible as they are entirely based around an individual account.

Gmail Glitches

Other sites including YouTube were inaccessible in their ordinary function as users couldn't login. However, it was possible to watch videos using the Incognito (private) Mode, meaning playlists, subscriptions and "watch later" lists were all out of action.

The effect on Gmail appeared to vary between different users. Some were completely unable to get on to the site. Others were able to access archived messages but couldn't receive any new messages.

There was even some effect on home gadgets such as the Google Home 'smart' speaker. They continued to work for the most part, but users couldn't make any settings changes using a mobile app.

Some Workers Idle

The Guardian notes that perhaps most concerningly, it took over half an hour for Google's public "dashboard" to confirm the problem was happening. (Source:

Google hasn't yet confirmed any details of exactly what happened, including whether it was a simple technical error or the result of an intentional attack. It's also unclear if the incident has exposed Google having a single point of failure in its authentication systems.

While a very rare outage fixed in under an hour is hardly a disaster for an online service, the incident has caused many to rethink their reliance on Google services. In particular, office and home-based workers in Europe (where the incident happened in the late morning) noted that in some roles involving online collaboration it became almost impossible to work at all.

What's Your Opinion?

Is an hour's outage for Google Services a significant problem? How affected would you be if Google's services were unavailable for an extended period? Is there a risk that people become too reliant on a single tech company?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I did notice yesterday that Thunderbird requested my gmail login credentials and would not send or receive emails unless I typed in my password and specifically allowed Thunderbird access to my gmails. This usually only happens once when Thunderbird is being deployed with a new account, so it was a surprise to see this appearing. Now I know why!

ijac's picture

Yes I had to do the same thing with Thunderbird. I was confused also now it is all clear thanks Dennis.

infopackets_11840's picture

Anytime there is a single point of failure, there are increased risks; total failure and substantially higher security exposure are among them. I really think the trend toward Google owns everything and links it all together under ONE login is a terrible idea. Think old time miniature Christmas tree lights, where when one goes out. This is what can happen with single points of failure. Google's failure is a textbook example of that.