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Posted at 8:23 AM ET, 02/28/2011

Some Gmail users lose all e-mails, chats

By Hayley Tsukayama

@_kumiho that's what happens when u trust all your professional life to a big corporation such as #Google: u wake up and it's all gone...Mon Feb 28 12:26:46 via web

At 1 p.m., EST, Google said one-third of all users affected by the e-mail bug had restored access to their accounts. Google also revised its original estimate of how many users were affected by the glitch. This morning the company had estimated the bug hit 0.08 percent of its users -- about 150,000 users. Now they have revised that number to 0.02 percent of users, or about 37,500. The company said it now expects the issue to be resolved for all users within 12 hours.

Some Gmail users found they had lost all of their e-mails and chats Sunday morning. About 150,000 users of Google's e-mail system, Gmail, logged in over the weekend to find that their information had been erased. According to Engadget, some users found that their accounts had been effectively reset, receiving the welcome messages Google sends to new users. The company says the problem has affected "less than 0.08 percent of users."

Google reported that it is looking into fixes for the glitch, though it has been vague on the timeline.

On its Google Apps status page, the company has said, "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."

Affected users are now reporting that they've been essentially locked out of their accounts, presumably as Google tries to restore the lost information.

Have you lost your Gmail messages? Have any tips for backing up e-mail? Sound off in the comments.

I may have just hugged my laptop and cried in relief mine are still there. "Google - Lost Gmail messages, contacts": Feb 28 12:01:40 via TweetDeck

Related stories:

Help File: Ways to recover a hacked Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo Mail account

Sidekick Users See Their Data Vanish Into a Cloud

Gmail Keeper Backs Up Your Gmail Locally

By Hayley Tsukayama  | February 28, 2011; 8:23 AM ET
Categories:  E-mail, Google  
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I'm one of the 150,000 people affected by this glitch. It started yesterday afternoon. I went to check my gmail.. mysteriously, ALL my emails (3-4 years' worth) were GONE. I think "Not the end of the world.. I never really ready / referenced my old emails anyways. I'll survive." Fast forward to 11 pm. -- I go to check my gmail again, hoping that by some miracle my emails had reappeared. They hadn't. Worse yet, my google account had inexplicably been disabled. DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DAAAANNNNGGEEERRR!! I'm an IT professional, and I depend on my gmail account for all my client contacts as well as my android-powered phone. Here's hoping they clean this mess PRONTO. I am not a happy camper.

Any further updates on this situation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Posted by: Illogically_Sound | February 28, 2011 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Did/does this affect IMAP accounts where the emails are synced locally?

In other words if one uses IMAP access to gmail, and one has messages stored locally (e.g., Apple Mail) would they all disappear from your inbox on the next sync?

Posted by: ah___ | February 28, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I was not affected by this event but it is a prime example for not using the "cloud". I'll never trust keeping all my stuff on someone else’s server. I'm an IT tech and will always keep all my emails and contacts on one of my local machines. Sure I'll use the cloud for convenience but I won’t put all my trust into someone else’s equipment.

Posted by: jonesyj1 | February 28, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

The most alarming thing yesterday was that at the time it was happening Google said there was nothing wrong. This went on for a few hours and then they admitted the errors. In our electronic world, the phone companies, electric power providers, etc all have systems that constantly monitor the system. They seem to think that we are all morons and that we will understand that we are just the only person who is having the problem. Those companies all suck at the same level and owe us a little bit more respect.

Posted by: bj70117 | February 28, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

The link to this on the WaPo fromt page states "Gmail accounts vannish"

Whoever wrote that should use software that highlights spelling errors.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 28, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

A program called GmailKeeper can download to an archive all your emails.
I found it after an accidental (my fault) erasure of all me messages.

Posted by: LiebermanD | February 28, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to the growing numbers of people having unbeatable difficulties with Google. It too me almost a month to correct the problems Google caused with my email. The main problem is Google is totally inaccessible. NO ONE ANSWERS PHONES AT GOOGLE. The only thing I hate worse than dealing with offshore support is no support at all. I resolved my problem by swtching to a new mail program and a new browswer.

Posted by: calmsprings | February 28, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

This is reason #2 I IMAP my email to Thunderbird.

Reason #1, of course, is that I still get my email when the web-based version goes down.

Posted by: Bush--notrelated | February 28, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The Post's little Internet headline for this: "Gmail accounts vannish." That's right, the Post is hiring functional illiterates. Congratulations to the HR department. You've now achieved a newsroom that perfectly mirrors the pathetic state of education in D.C.

Posted by: Rob_ | February 28, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Aw, gee Rob. Yep, the Washington Post has consistently and clearly been a reflection of the D.C. school system over the years. Always where I look to find out what's happening in my home town's school system.

Anyway - interesting point from calmsprings. I've recently expanded my usage of Google products, using Google Analytics and AdWords to track web activity for my company.

Those that were my mentors in learning how to use these products jokingly (I thought!)told me that there was no support available for them. I did think that there were kidding, and they were slightly exaggerating, but I really have become bothered by the range of Google products that provide very little support for products that have significant impact in both professional and personal uses.

Yeah, I do notice what I happen to be paying for these things, but to place products with such a large scope of features, but with difficult to access support is somewhat counter intuitive.

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | February 28, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

bj71107 you really can't blame them. The republican leadership in this country not only assumes that we're all morons, they depend on the 50 million who prove to them over and over again that they are. Gee billy bob, Ise pointed a gun at my foots and pulled the trigger and it hurt me! I seen all de otha fellas shootin demseves in de feet, so i figgered it was de thang to do!!!! shoot fire boy, ise jes don't get it! lemmeee go tune into rush and glen so dey can tell me wuts to think! We act like morons, we'll be assumed to be morons.
btw I'm happy to report my gmail accounts have functioned normally to this point. sorry for those who weren't as lucky.

Posted by: red2million | February 28, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

This happened to me Friday, but it wasnt google; it was my Yahoo account that I lost. Ironically, I subsenquently set up an gmail account because of it.

Posted by: gmoneygriff | February 28, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

For a cost free backup, install Thunderbird and set up your Gmail account there.

Then use the offline sync settings and check all the folders. After this, periodically do a sync. This will sync your gmail account's email with your thunderbird installation locally.

After *that*, BACK UP the thunderbird profile regularly. This will give you a 2way recovery in case anything goes wrong.

One big plus is that Thunderbird runs on all the major OSs so it should be available to all.

Alternatively (but easier), create another email account elsewhere (Yahoo, AOL, AIM, Hotmai, you name it.) and tell Gmail to automatically forward any email there. That's another good way to keep a backup, at least of the emails.

It is a bit of work, but it beats losing emails that you really needed.

I use AIM as my cloud backup, as it were, since AIM is also 'unlimited'.

Posted by: madgrenadier | February 28, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Not a big deal. Home users with disposable e-mail accounts. Anyone with an ounce of sense keeps anything of value locally and backs up.
No competent business IT Dept uses Gmail as primary company email service.

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 28, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

This very strange. In January, there was an article about lost email in HotMail. Then a couple of weeks ago, AOL/Netscape mail users suffered a similar fate (myself included). Now gMail accounts have been lost. There must be some sort of connection here; it can't be mere coincidence.

Posted by: AJ240Z | February 28, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

This is outrageous! How can Google, to whom I probably pay a small fortune for their gmail service, let something like this happen!

Posted by: gratianus | February 28, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse


All those backups seemed a waste of pay.
Now my database has gone away.
Oh I believe in yesterday.

There's not half the files there used to be,
And there's a milestone
hanging over me
The system crashed so suddenly.

I pushed something wrong
What it was I could not say.

Now all my data's gone
and I long for yesterday-ay-ay-ay.

The need for back-ups seemed so far away.
I knew my data was all here to stay,
Now I believe in yesterday.

Posted by: GWGOLDB | February 28, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

And THAT'S why you always back your info up and not rely on the "cloud" to house your info...

silly folks.

Posted by: cbmuzik | February 28, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

This happened to me once before but like a few people here I had my email backed up locally via IMAP and archiving. But to insure I wouldn't lose anything ever again I created 2 more Gmail accounts just as backups. I then set up forwarding to both of these addresses from my main account. I now have my Gmail backed up in triplicate.

Posted by: RocknBlogger | February 28, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Comcast did the same thing when they switched over to their current worthless email software. I had years of business emails plus my business address book go "poof". Frantically over the course of a couple of days Comcast found everything and put it back. Learning from that lesson I now have my entire Comcast account forwarded through Gmail as a backup. If you are running a business never trust any one provider with your emails. Add Thunderbird or Outlook and download everything on a regular basis. Or add a spare Gmail account and forward everything through it as a back up. It's worth the time investment.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | February 28, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Even with big businesses/companies, e-mail is never considered a reliable form of communication, nor a reliable way to store files/messages, even if you do use something like Outlook to store your e-mails on your computer. Its mainly used to share files like documents, powerpoints, excel files, etc, send out temporary announcements, etc. If my entire account of e-mails were deleted, it wouldn't matter to me. Because all of the most important files and messages are backed up on my external hard drives. Now if those all go out, well, that's a whole different problem. But thats why the rule of 3 backups is key, and actually having a cloud backup is a good idea. Because hey, what if your house burns down, and so does all your hard drives? The chance of ALL 3 backups going in that case are even lower. NEVER rely on 1 source for data.

Posted by: coldfusion1787 | February 28, 2011 7:55 PM | Report abuse

GWGOLDB : "Yesterday".... Most Excellent.

Posted by: bstaud | February 28, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, nuff said. Happened to our ymail account when it got hacked too. What did we learn? To archive our web based email. Here's a FREE video we just made(sorry it's 14 min and not exciting, but effective) on ONE solution(FREEWARE) to archiving your gmail information.

Hope this helps you folks.

Patrick D.

Posted by: ComputerHelpers4Good | March 1, 2011 4:03 AM | Report abuse

To the IT professional who lost all his important emails I have one word. Backup.

Posted by: b10e | March 1, 2011 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Don't trust the cloud - ever. Back up your information to hard media or you will lose it someday. What frightens me is all of the talk in business circles about using cloud-based services to do important work. This is a frightening trend and IT folks need to push back.

Posted by: ancient_mariner | March 1, 2011 7:40 AM | Report abuse

thanks for helping me delete all those unwanted emails i don't even want them back. another thing to all you people that find it totally necessary to pick out every spelling and gramatical error...get a life its a typo.

Posted by: jervis0610 | March 1, 2011 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Well, it's 20 hours after the 1 pm posting yesterday and I'm still locked out. Is there anyone at Google to contact about this?

Posted by: NobodyImportant | March 1, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I am locked out of my account as well. However, I took advantage of the other online free storage & mail services i.e. Hotmail, Yahoo and have all contacts & online documents pics etc stored in multiple places. How many times do people need to lose data, addresses, blah, blah, blah before they use all the redundant resources available?

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe.” Albert Einstein

Posted by: pneal1965 | March 4, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

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