Representational Image
Representational Image

Ever since the massive outage on Monday (December 14) evening during which Google services — including Gmail and YouTube — went down, the millions of affected users worldwide had been wondering about the real reason for the disruption in the online services, since technical snags are rare for the leading tech giant.

However, the company on Saturday, five days after the outage, took it upon itself to issue an explanation regarding the same. According to a report by the news agency Bloomberg, Google has clarified that the massive outage in its services occurred due to a mistake in its system for identifying people.

According to Alphabet Inc, Google's parent company, the search engine's optimisation algorithm relies on several tools to verify and track logged-in users, so as to cater to their customer's specific interests and search preferences better.

However, the company had since October started navigating those tools and related data to a new file storage system, during which large portions of the data went 'misreported', according to the report.

This issue ultimately caused its services to break down as long as 47 minutes on Monday evening.

Google's services — including Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Docs, Maps, Adwords and Adsense, Google Pay, Google Home, Nest and Google’s Chromecast — abruptly went down on Monday evening, impacting several users from across the world.

Gmail users found themselves being greeted with a “Temporary Error” message.

It stated: "We’re sorry, but your account is temporarily unavailable. We apologise for the inconvenience and suggest trying again in a few minutes.

Google acknowledged the issue with Gmail at 5:25 PM on this day and had sorted the issue out by 6:22 PM in the evening, when it said that the problem was fixed for the "vast majority" of users.

However, the company had not immediately issued an explanation for the same. The status page for Google's services instead posted a notice of acknowledgement, which stated that "system reliability is a top priority at Google" and that the company is "making continuous improvements" to make the system better.

The list of services affected by the widespread outage seems to be — YouTube, Gmail, Google Search, Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Docs, and YouTube TV, among other services.

The other major services which were affected are Google Calendar, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Sites, Google Groups, Google Hangouts, Google Chat, Google Meet, Google Vault, Currents, Google Keep, Google Tasks, Google Voice, and Google Cloud Search.

So basically, almost all of Google's web-based services had gone down.

Not just this, several users also reported that a number of daily tasks were affected when 'smart home' automation synced to Google services ran into the technical snag.

However, earlier, several online forums were positing that the snag may have been resulted from a lapse in cybersecurity, especially since the hacking of software provider SolarWinds Corp, which exposed several companies like Microsoft and multiple US government agencies recently.

However, a Google spokesperson clarified that there is no evidence of the SolarWinds hack affected Alphabet Inc. or Google's services.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal