#GoogleDown: Here's what happens when one is overdependent on the search giant

The year 2020 has seen many lows and will forever be remembered as the year that brought the bustling world down to its knees. Airlines were grounded globally, citizens faced a hard lockdown, and millions lost their jobs plunging nations into economic despair.

Coronavirus and Covid-19 became household names and were termed the horror story of the century. But what happened on December 14 was a scorcher of a different magnitude. Google went down!

Let that sink in for a bit.

For nearly 45 minutes, Google and its several services like Gmail, YouTube, Google Meet, Calendar, Docs… etc. were down. Panic was the only expression in the air, as millions were unable to get access to their emails, data and were even disconnected from their online classes. As is the habit most people logged on to Google to check what happened. But how does one Google information about Google when Google is down!

Google products are a bunch of useful tools but any disruption on their part shouldn't cause one in our lives. Maybe we should be looking at other alternatives or question our increasing reliance on technology.
Prakhaya Thapliyal, 23, student

Though the outage lasted for less than an hour what it did do was jolt many users out of their slumber to realise their overdependence on one product for a majority of their needs.

Shraddha Rajguru, who is a CA, was in for a rude shock when she heard a sigh of exasperation from her daughter’s room whose online class had crashed. The second sigh came from the living room when YouTube stopped streaming, and the third from her husband’s work desk when his emails were inaccessible.

“It was a combination of panic and surprise as this was the first time something like this happened,” said Shraddha, who has worked from home since March. “This incident made us realise just how dependent we are on one brand and an outage for a longer period could prove catastrophic,” she adds.

While Google was quick to send out a statement letting its users know that the services were restored, many had already taken to social media to rant. #GoogleDown became a trending hashtag in a matter of minutes.

What Google had to say

“Today, (Dec 14) at 3.47AM PT Google experienced an authentication system outage for approximately 45 minutes due to an internal storage quota issue. Services requiring users to log in experienced high error rates during this period. The authentication system issue was resolved at 4:32AM PT. All services are now restored. We apologise to everyone affected, and we will conduct a thorough follow-up review to ensure this problem cannot recur in the future,” said a Google spokesperson.

All my work emails are on G-Suite and personal email accounts with Gmail. So in effect, this would adversely affect the way I work and communicate professionally and personally.
Pooja Solanki, 42, entrepreneur

“The Google outage made me feel helpless for a bit. We rely too much on the Google universe,” said Chetna Israni, Marketing Consultant.

Months of hard work at stake

Students, who have used Google services for their classes, lessons, and even projects, were the worst affected by the outage. “My classmates and I were working on a group project, and we were checking the responses of a survey we had sent out on Google forms. Due to the outage, we couldn’t refresh or reload our response, which caused us to panic. We feared that we had lost our responses,” said Prakhaya Thapliyal, a post-grad student.

Several companies rely solely on Google services for their business needs and communication. With the economy already in the doldrums, the outage threw a spanner in the works by disrupting the email service.

“Am I dependent on Google? Hell yes, but any other service just does not offer the ease of operation and integration. So unless there is some real competition and on the same scale, I have sold my soul to Google,” shared Pooja Solanki, an entrepreneur.

Businessman Rachit Mankad echoed her sentiment. “Being a fast-growing manufacturing company, we increasingly use various digital channels to communicate with our customers and manage internal communications.”

“The Google outage impacted our communications, but was rectified soon enough to not have any lasting damage. However, it does throw light on our dependence on Big Tech and why even SMEs in India must work on their digital infrastructure strategies to ensure business continuity,” shared Rachit.

Voices

"Had it gone on for longer, makes me wonder if I should think about distributing the eggs into more than one basket." --Chetna Israni, 35, Marketing Consultant and Communication Coach

"I was unable to access emails and was forced out of ongoing Meet sessions. My work was affected, as I was unable to access my sheets and drives in that period. Had it been longer it would definitely be a problem." ---Shivani Gupta, 25, post-grad student

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