Google blames software bug for Friday night Gmail outage

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Google has blamed a software bug for the Friday night outage that left users across the world unable to access several of its services for up to an hour.

The search giant apologised for the downtime, which prevented Gmail, Google+, Calendar and Documents users from accessing their accounts, in a statement published on the Google Official Blog.

It confirmed the outage lasted for around 25 minutes for many users, while 10 per cent of them may have been affected for up to 30 minutes longer.

"Whether the effect was brief or lasted the better part of an hour, please accept our apologies we strive to make all of Google's services available and fast for you, all the time, and we missed the mark today," the statement, written by Google's vice president of engineering Ben Treynor, read.

He also revealed the outage had been caused by a software bug in an internal system that generates information that tells other systems what to do, generating an "incorrect configuration" that affected how some of its services behaved.

"Users began seeing errors on affected services at 11.02am (PST), and at that time our internal monitoring alerted Google's Site Reliability Team," the statement continued.

"Engineers were still debugging 12 minutes later when the same system, having automatically cleared the original error, generated a new correct configuration at 11.14am," the statement continued.

"Errors subsided rapidly starting at this time. By 11.30am, the correct configuration was live everywhere and almost all users' services were restored."

Treynor said the team was now working to remove the source of Friday's outage, and speed up recovery times if and when future problems of this nature occur.

Around the time of the outage, Yahoo was forced to apologise after a member of its social media team decided to flag the Google outage from the @Yahoo account.

The tweet stated that "Gmail is temporarily unavailable" and featured a screenshot to back up this claim.

It was later removed, before Yahoo issued an apology to the Gmail and Google team, citing "bad judgement".

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.