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As Google Goes, So Goes My Internets

For more than two hours today, the Internet was dead to me. All my reference manuals were gone. Email was dead. Shared documents were nowhere to be found. Searching didn't work. All of that was broken because Google essentially went offline for me in the middle of the day. If Google can't work, I can't work.
For more than two hours today, the Internet was dead to me. All my reference manuals were gone. Email was dead. Shared documents were nowhere to be found. Searching didn't work. All of that was broken because Google essentially went offline for me in the middle of the day. If Google can't work, I can't work.I first noticed something wrong around 10:30am Eastern time. I opened a new browser window and my home page (Google of course) just wouldn't come up. After about a minute of looking at a blank screen and hitting reload, I figured the problem had to be my broadband router. But no; after cycling the power and waiting a couple of minutes, the home page still wasn't anywhere to be found. On a whim, I decided to try some other sites, and they worked. That meant only one incomprehensible thing: Google was gone.

Just to be sure, I tried pinging a few Google services. Some of them eventually answered the ping, but after 300 to 400 milliseconds instead of a typical 50 milliseconds. It was like a 1992 dialup connection. It wasn't just the search engine, either. My business uses Google Apps including GMail, and they weren't faring any better. Google Analytics? Dead. Even Youtube was pretty much inaccessible.

The way I use Google means that even when other sites are available, they're much less useful if I can't get to Google. For example, Microsoft's MSDN search isn't very good, and that's being generous. If, however, you use Google to search the MSDN pages you can usually get the relevant answers within the top 10 results. Lacking Google I had to try and make do with MSDN's lousy search.

The Internet returned to sanity shortly after lunchtime, when Google finally stopped sending USA traffic through Asia. Outlook still wouldn't send any email though GMail, but then I realized that Outlook's connection was hung; a restart of Outlook fixed that issue, and all was right with the world again. The question is, should we take any lesson away from this? Is Google dependence something to be feared, or treated like an addiction to water and food?

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing