12 votes

Gmail suffers another outage

7 comments

  1. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    On Hacker News they are saying that email sent to gmail users was being bounced with "permanent failure." This means that many people may have lost transactional emails or got auto-removed from...

    On Hacker News they are saying that email sent to gmail users was being bounced with "permanent failure." This means that many people may have lost transactional emails or got auto-removed from mailing lists.

    8 votes
    1. whbboyd
      Link Parent
      A bunch of commenters in that thread are trying to blame senders for not loosely interpreting the SMTP permanent error replies, which IMO is completely off-base. This is entirely Google's fuckup,...

      A bunch of commenters in that thread are trying to blame senders for not loosely interpreting the SMTP permanent error replies, which IMO is completely off-base. This is entirely Google's fuckup, and it's really bad. In particular:

      • They were erroneously sending unambiguous replies which stated "this address does not exist"; and
      • They pursue a policy of actively punishing senders (by blacklisting, which given Gmail's size is effectively a death sentence) who do not take that message seriously.

      Now, the first problem is "just" a bug (a tremendously bad one, but as we've gotten to see repeatedly in the last day, Google is certainly not immune to outage-precipitating issues); but the second is an intentional policy, very specifically designed to shape the behavior of mail senders Internet-wide. Google absolutely gets to take the blame (if we want to be overly sympathetic, they can share it with the other titan of email, Microsoft) for that behavior.

      In a just world, we'd see Google forced to assume liability for any harms caused by this outage (not necessarily the window of unavailability, but certainly the egregiousness of the failure resulting in permanently lost emails). In a reasonable one, we'd see massive migrations off Gmail. I'm not particularly hopeful for either, but, well, I guess I can dream.

      13 votes
  2. [2]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    Very glad I switched away from Gmail last year. If anyone else is thinking of doing the same, I recommend protonmail.

    Very glad I switched away from Gmail last year. If anyone else is thinking of doing the same, I recommend protonmail.

    5 votes
    1. whbboyd
      Link Parent
      I'll throw in a recommendation for Fastmail. For the most part, there are three general recommendations I make (and, for my own email, follow): Buy a domain and host your email under it. This...

      I'll throw in a recommendation for Fastmail.

      For the most part, there are three general recommendations I make (and, for my own email, follow):

      • Buy a domain and host your email under it. This makes it possible to switch email providers without changing your address. (It also enables other fun tricks like having arbitrarily many addresses, but that's certainly not a necessary feature.)
      • Pay your email provider. You get what you pay for, and if you're not paying anybody for a service, you're not the customer of that service.
      • Use a provider with less than 5% of the email hosting market. In practice, this just means avoiding Google and Microsoft.

      My annual cost for email (domain+Fastmail) is roughly $50. I wouldn't read too much into security claims of various email providers; it gets transmitted over the Internet in plaintext regardless, and roughly half your email will be going to or coming from Google's mailservers because that's where the recipient resides. Instead, assume all email is insecure, and use GPG if you need content security (and some other communication medium if you need metadata security or anonymity).

      6 votes
  3. [3]
    petrichor
    Link
    Have any Tilderinos been affected by this?

    Have any Tilderinos been affected by this?

    1 vote
    1. JackA
      Link Parent
      One of our executives got a bunch of bounced emails to any board members with a gmail address. After making sure our side was good I checked down detector and saw gmail was having issues so I told...

      One of our executives got a bunch of bounced emails to any board members with a gmail address. After making sure our side was good I checked down detector and saw gmail was having issues so I told them to just resend the emails in a couple hours.

      Not a big deal for me as we run Microsoft emails, and being able to point the blame at google and go home instead of scrambling to fix something myself means I'm still all for cloud services on an enterprise level.

      3 votes
    2. Crestwave
      Link Parent
      It's not exactly me personally, but a forum I'm an administrator on had problems with people not having permission to do basic stuff, which resulted in a bunch of drama as they thought a moderator...

      It's not exactly me personally, but a forum I'm an administrator on had problems with people not having permission to do basic stuff, which resulted in a bunch of drama as they thought a moderator restricted their accounts or the site was malfunctioning.

      It turned out that their email notifications bounced back with an error that the address didn't exist, so the forum software (XenForo) marked it as invalid and set their permissions accordingly. Which is totally reasonable, of course; this was a huge screwup on Google's part.

      1 vote