There has been an accumulation of minor activity about Gmail recently.
On 11 December 2012, many Google accounts experienced Gmail unavailability. I did not have experience any problems in Arizona. Gmail was definitely offline for at least 45 minutes, when I checked the official Google Apps Status page.
According to GigaOm, continuous deployment was the problem, and Gmail went down during a routine load balancing update. The GigaOm article is good. It includes a two-page PDF document later released by Google, with a detailed explanation of the incident.
For future reference, I suggest bookmarking the Google Apps Status Dashboard. Despite the “Google Apps” page name, the information is relevant to consumers as well as Google Apps business customers. It lists time and cause for disruptions in Gmail and many other Google services.
Verdict of the Herd
There is an unofficial Is Gmail down? service which culls data from multiple sources. It reminds me of an informal version of Herdict, the “verdict of the herd”. Herdict collects and publicly reports on global incidents of filtering, denial of service attacks, availability, and overall internet infrastructure reliability. Input data is crowd-sourced.
Herdict reports on website inaccessibility regardless of cause. After aggregation and trend analysis, it can be useful for gauging regional blockages of websites known for activism and possibly subject to politically motivated internet censorship. “Is Gmail down” is not intended for anything beyond the convenience of the public, though that is always appreciated! It is not crowd-sourced, nor does it give a comprehensive real-time map of global Internet health. In contrast, Herdict does exactly that. The collected information can even be broken down on a more granular level.
I like the Herdict badge. You can put it on your website to support Herdict activities. Just click on the sheep-shaped image to get one. The Herdict real time interactive map is fun to watch, and its RSS feed is available for free to anyone who wants to use the data. Herdict is run by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society of Harvard University.