GMAIL reset: my gmail account has disappeared / been erased

by Sasha Wilkins on February 27, 2011 · 27 comments

Screen shot 2011-02-27 at 21.20.37

I’m not feeling very chirpy right now. First there is the matter of the raging cold I’m battling – I could call it flu, but then I’d have to change sex – and second, there’s the Gmail issue.

After watching a movie this afternoon with half-closed eyes, desultorily checking my email every ten minutes or so, I fell asleep propped up on a pillow, surrounded by tissues and cough mixture. I woke up a few hours later and hauled my laptop towards me. Through my snotty, half-awake haze I realised that something wasn’t right.

My entire Gmail account had been re-set. No labels, no spam, no trash, no emails, nothing. NOTHING

NOTHING AT ALL


Upon further investigation my contacts, documents and calendar were still there, so it was obviously not a hack but some kind of Google database problem. But could I find any hint of a problem on any Google official pages?

Could I heck. All there is, is one solitary comment on a forum thread saying it is being looked into from a Google employee over three hours ago (it’s now 2142GMT on Sunday).

It is clear from the Gmail forums and Twitter that hundreds if not thousands of people have had their Gmail accounts compromised. A firm believer in the concept of cloud computing, it never occurred to me that my Gmail account could one day disappear.

The account that has been compromised is my primary gmail acct (as opposed to the LLG one), which contains all my personal & business correspondence since 2005. You can imagine the implications this has for my business, tax affairs and so on.

Thanks to some helpful people on Twitter, I have now taken the following steps to back up my second gmail account:

I have Outlook on my Mac Air, so I have implemented POP and now my LLG Gmail account is mirrored on Outlook. I use Time Machine (a Mac backup which runs to an external hard drive), so that Outlook account is also backed up on an external drive. (Of course this would work with the Apple email client too.)

I have set up a tertiary cloud email address and now have every email sent to the LLG address forwarded on to that holding address.

I have downloaded a program called BackupGoo which downloads your entire Google account to your computer.

So, I strongly advise anyone who uses a cloud email address that doesn’t run through a desktop client (that is Hotmail/Yahoo/Gmail etc) to get backing up pronto. There is, as yet, no word from Google as to whether we will get our email back. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this is merely a datebase redirect problem.

If not, I am in big, serious trouble.

(and if you have emailed me to the sashawilkins account in the past month you may want to consider chasing me at libertylondongirl [at] gmail.com

UPDATE: 2211GMT
Another update on the status page:

“Our team is continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by February 27, 2011 5:20:00 PM UTC-5 with more information about this problem. Thank you for your patience. This issue affects less than .29% of the Google Mail userbase.”

That has been estimated to be over 500,000 people by a forum user.

UPDATE 3:40 AM

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% 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. 

That has been estimated to be around 150,000 people by Engadget.

UPDATE 0835AM: GOOGLE HAVE NOW ENTIRELY DISABLED MY ACCOUNT. Fortunately, according to the forums, this means they are working on it. Unfortunately, this means all email sent to my sashawilkins address gets bounced back to the sender, and I can’t access calendar, Reader or Feedburner.
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