Google is working to restore Gmail e-mail accounts as thousands of users wake up Monday morning to e-mail inboxes that have been completely wiped out.
According to Google, Gmail service was knocked out of commission for a chunk of its users – it's estimated that roughly 150,000 were affected -- on Sunday. On its Apps Status Dashboard, Google called the Gmail outage a "service disruption" and said it affected 0.29 percent of Gmail e-mail users as of 7:30 p.m. eastern on Sunday.
Dozens users on a Gmail forum posted that their messages, labels and settings had been set back to the default status and that their inboxes had been wiped clean of years' worth of data and messages.
After several hours, Google posted on its Apps Status Dashboard that the issue was affecting 0.08 percent of its Gmail users and that "Google engineers are working to restore full access."
During the service disruption, Google also locked many users out of their Gmail accounts to fix the problems, making them temporarily unable to sign in while repairs were made.
"Overnight we temporarily disabled access to some Gmail accounts due to a service disruption," Google Gmail engineer Mike CH wrote on the Gmail Forum. "The disables are in place to stop the account from changing whilst we make the necessary repairs."
Google told users that accounts would be restored and during the repaires disabled users would be unable to sign in to any Google service, mail to the account would bounce back and hosted content like blogs, sites and shared items in Google Reader would be unavailable, along with other services.
Google additionally warned that some users attempting to sign in to disabled Gmail accounts may see Google's terms of service or be notified that they have violated Google's and Gmail's terms of service.
Google has not yet said what caused the sweeping Gmail outage.
"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," Google wrote at 1:40 a.m. Eastern on Monday.
Google had not completely resolved the Gmail issue as of Monday morning. "Google engineering teams are working around the clock to solve this problem," Google wrote. "We fully understand the importance of your email and how disruptive this type of outage can be. The latest updates will be posted to the apps status dashboard ...."
Sunday's Google Gmail outage isn't the first time the widely popular consumer and business e-mail application has been knocked out of commission. In September 2009 Gmail service conked out for more than 100 minutes due to overloaded request routers, marking the second outage that month.
Before that, Google's Gmail suffered outages in February 2009 and August 2008.
Google also isn't alone when it comes to e-mail outages. In January, Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail e-mail service was derailed by a load balancing issue that deleted inboxes and other messages for more than 17,000 Hotmail e-mail users. That issue persisted for more than four days, in some cases.