Gmail is down? Not anymore, Google says.

Gmail users weathered four days of intermittent service issues. But now Gmail is back online.

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    Gmail has had a rough couple of days. But Google reps said today that service had been restore to all accounts.
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Gmail was down. And then Gmail was sort of down, and sort of back up, and lots of users were upset. And now – really! – Gmail is totally restored.

"The problem with Google Mail should be resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support," Google reps wrote today on the Apps Status Dashboard, which helps users keep track of how Google services are working. "Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better."

The problems with Gmail began sometime over the weekend, with many users complaining that their past emails were missing – or that they couldn't get onto Gmail at all. In a Monday post to the Gmail blog, Google engineer Ben Treynor blamed the outage on "a storage software update," and said that only 0.02 percent of users had actually been affected. Treynor later posted an update to the blog, announcing that all service had been restored.

But the response wasn't enough for many Gmailers, who complained that Google had not been prompt or transparent enough when it came to getting Gmail back online.

"What irks me the most... is the poor response," a user on a Gmail help forum wrote this week, according to the Huffington Post. "I've sent three or four e-mails (about one a day since this whole mess started) to Google and not gotten responses from them. All I've found is the generic app status that basically says it'll get fixed sometime. That what's killer."

Well! What important lessons have we learned from the Great Gmail Outage of 2011? On the one hand, we have learned that Google is not infallible when it comes to customer service. (Actually, we already knew that.) On the other, we have learned that the cloud is not always a perfectly reliable place, and that it's usually better to back up valuable things via a thumb drive or external hard drive, or other such fancy device. So go do that.

And in the meantime, if you haven't done so already, you should sign up for our weekly Innovation newsletter. Which is free! It ships every Wednesday.

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