Planet Google

Life Without Gmail—’Everything Was Gone’

julia west Life Without Gmail—Everything Was GoneGoogle now says only 39,000 users were affected by a bug that wiped out data in some accounts completely yesterday. Brooklynite Julia West is one of them.

“I woke up pretty early yesterday morning, around 7 a.m.,” Ms. West said. “I always check my email on my phone when I wake up. I saw I had no email in my inbox when I normally have a bunch—I thought it was a mobile glitch. But then I sat down at noon and needed some notes and images from my email for work that I didn’t have anywhere else… and everything was gone.”

Ms. West, a developer and entrepreneur in New York City, has been using Gmail since she got a beta invite in 2004. She estimates she was using about half her quota of data, which would be more than 3,700 MB—tens of thousands of emails. The filters she had set up were also gone and her inbox was flooded with spam.

“I’ve always like, really trusted Google. They seem like they’re incapable of losing data. I’m not worried that it’ll be gone forever but it’s a huge inconvenience for it to be taking so long… it’s not the end of the world but it’s a huge inconvenience,” she said. “And scary.”

Google has not said what caused the problem and hasn’t directly communicated with users whose accounts were compromised. Ms. West learned what had happened from the news and Google’s Apps Status Dashboard, which she’s been “checking religiously.”

But the Apps Dashboard does not update when promised (“We will provide an update by February 27, 2011 10:02:00 PM UTC-5 with more information about this problem,” the page said yesterday; the next update was at 10:40 p.m.).

A company spokesperson told CNN that engineers are working on a fix and should see their accounts restored within the next 12 hours.

Ms. West has gone nearly 36 hours without the emails and other information she had stored in Gmail, but her co-workers have been sympathetic.

“Mostly people are surprised that Google is capable of this level of data loss. People are just kind of shocked,” she said. “I’m the only lucky person out of all my friends. I’m like a unicorn. They’re like ‘wow, you’re one of the people.’ I feel like I won the unlucky lottery or something.”

Ms. West now plans to back up her Gmail account as soon as it’s restored. In the meantime, she’s trying to enjoy herself without her archive.

“I feel like I’m cut off from my past,” she said. “It’s kind of good because normally I open my inbox and I have all this work… this morning I sat down and was like ‘wow, what do I want to do today?’”

Backupify is already capitalizing on the crisis by offering a free year of storage with the promo code “savegmail.” It’s a good time to pitch backup storage—photographer Mirco Wilhelm recently had 4,000 photos wiped out by Flickr, which the company had to scramble to restore.

Click here to see 20 of Mr. Wilhelm’s Photos Flickr Accidentally Deleted

ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com