Gmail Downtime

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GMail was down for a couple of hours today. This generated a public outcry, or at least some serious pissed-offness.

Gmail is a fantastic webmail service – I use it myself – but you should read the terms of service, especially this bit:

4.3 As part of this continuing innovation, you acknowledge and agree that Google may stop (permanently or temporarily) providing the Services (or any features within the Services) to you or to users generally at Google’s sole discretion, without prior notice to you. You may stop using the Services at any time. You do not need to specifically inform Google when you stop using the Services.

aka we’ll be down whenever we want. This is the price for having Gmail for free (well, that and giving Google all your data) – there’s no agreements around quality of service. And Google is big enough not to care what happens to your paltry mailbox.

Is this a reason to stop using Gmail ? Not where I’m concerned. There was a similar situation a few months ago, and this made me take the following measures:

* using the pop interface of Gmail, i regularly back up ALL my google email (I don't clean up very often)

* i synchronize my google contacts with my mac address book - when i have no mac I'll find another solution, they have a good API (same with my google calendar btw)

* i have more than one email address - I've no taste for maintaining my own mail server, but there are plenty of other options around.

* i use a catch-all mail with my own domain name for gmail - so if gmail goes down indefinitely i just rerout my addresses to some other service

And so if Gmail goes down again, i have the slight discomfort of losing touch for a few hours at worst, but I’m not blocked.

That’s SaaS for you – limited control – better come to terms with it.