Human error knocks Gmail offline

Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Gmail  was down for some 40 minutes on Monday. Rumors hinted at first at a Denial of Service attack, fueled in part by Google's initial silence on the matter. However, updates that were provided by the company later showed it as an outage caused by a server misconfiguration.

Google engineer Tim Steele offered the most technical explanation to date, pegging the Gmail problems to a "server side problem." The outage was part of a bigger problem, apparently, and traces back to the misconfiguration of load-balancing servers for a service called the Sync Server.

Designed to synchronize various data such as bookmarks, extensions and apps with Google, Sync essentially allows users to log in to the same Chrome experience regardless of which computer they use to surf the web. Unfortunately, this  meant that various services were cobbled by excessive traffic, which rendered them--including Gmail--unavailable as a result.

Steele added that "It's due to a backend service that Sync servers depend on becoming overwhelmed, and Sync servers responding to that by telling all clients to throttle all data types." This resulted in widespread complaints about the Chrome browser crashing too, causing consternation that a web service can effectively knock out a desktop app.

Not everyone took the Gmail outage completely seriously though. On this front, The Christian Science Monitor has compiled a list of the 10 funniest tweets about the Gmail outage.

For more:
- check out this article at Windows IT Pro
- check out this article at Wired

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