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Google's Real Outage Failure: Gmail's 'Offline Mode' Didn't Work

As has been <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/google/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=217500452">widely publicized</a>, a number of Google services -- including Google Search, News and Gmail -- were down for several hours late last week. While the failure of these services was important, I was more disappointed by the fact that Google's fallback system -- the Gears powered "offline mode" for Gmail -- failed to work, too.

Eric Ogren

May 18, 2009

2 Min Read

As has been widely publicized, a number of Google services -- including Google Search, News and Gmail -- were down for several hours late last week. While the failure of these services was important, I was more disappointed by the fact that Google's fallback system -- the Gears powered "offline mode" for Gmail -- failed to work, too.What's the point of an offline mode if it isn't going to work?

During the first 30 minutes of the Google outage last week, I attempted several different avenues to connect to my Gmail and Google Reader services. Those included sign-in attempts through different browsers, sign-in attempts through different machines, and checking my mobile devices. I was unable to log in via any method I tried.

My last resort was an attempt to set Gmail into offline mode. I already have the Offline Mode Lab enabled, and Gmail syncs with my desktop periodically. My attempts to load offline Gmail, however, also failed. (I don't use a desktop-based email client at all.) This left me completely without access to my email.

Google explained why its services failed (misdirected Internet traffic). I'd like an explanation as to why offline mode failed, too. It shouldn't have.

While I do have email addresses and functionality outside of Gmail (meaning I wasn't totally sunk), Gmail is my main email provider and I aggregate many of my other accounts there into one master inbox.

The whole point of offline mode is to enable some level of functionality when an Internet connection isn't available. It stands to reason that the offline mode should still work when the service is offline, too, because I am working from my local drive.

It didn't, and I'd like to know why.

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