Gmail implodes for 150,000 users (updated)

Around 150,000 Gmail users woke up to a nasty surprise over the weekend: their Gmail accounts — including email, chats, attachments and contacts — had disappeared into the cloud, the Huffington Post reports.

It could have been worse for Google. Initial estimates had placed around 500,000 users with Gmail account trouble, but Google later revised that number to 150,000, or less than .08 .02 percent of Gmail users. The company is aware of the issues, but at the moment its Gmail status blog still says it’s investigating the problem.

The news is a big blow to Google’s cloud computing empire. Google wants consumers to believe that their data will be safe within its servers, but that will be difficult for some to swallow since Google still hasn’t been able to restore these lost accounts. The situation may not be as bad as when Microsoft permanently lost SideKick users’ data, but it’s a reminder that consumers can’t completely trust the cloud yet.

Gmail’s last major outage was in February of 2009. That outage affected more users but lasted only for a few hours.

As LifeHacker points out, Gmail’s weekend trouble is a good reason as any to start backing up data from your cloud services. You can set up Gmail via a desktop email client to manually save data, or use services like BackupMyMail and Backupify to establish automatic backups.

Update: Google spokesperson Andrew Kovacs just tweeted to clarify that .02 percent of users were affected, and that Gmail access for a third of them has been restored. The remaining affected users will all be restored within the next 12 hours.