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Imagine the sinking feeling of logging in to your Gmail account and finding it empty. That’s what happened to 0.02% of Gmail users yesterday, and we’re very sorry. The good news is that email was never lost and we’ve restored access for many of those affected. Though it may take longer than we originally expected, we're making good progress and things should be back to normal for everyone soon.

I know what some of you are thinking: how could this happen if we have multiple copies of your data, in multiple data centers? Well, in some rare instances software bugs can affect several copies of the data. That’s what happened here. Some copies of mail were deleted, and we’ve been hard at work over the last 30 hours getting it back for the people affected by this issue.

To protect your information from these unusual bugs, we also back it up to tape. Since the tapes are offline, they’re protected from such software bugs. But restoring data from them also takes longer than transferring your requests to another data center, which is why it’s taken us hours to get the email back instead of milliseconds.

So what caused this problem? We released a storage software update that introduced the unexpected bug, which caused 0.02% of Gmail users to temporarily lose access to their email. When we discovered the problem, we immediately stopped the deployment of the new software and reverted to the old version.

As always, we’ll post a detailed incident report outlining what happened to the Apps Status Dashboard, as well as the corrective actions we’re taking to help prevent it from occurring again. If you were affected by this issue, it’s important to note that email sent to you between 6:00 PM PST on February 27 and 2:00 PM PST on February 28 was likely not delivered to your mailbox, and the senders would have received a notification that their messages weren’t delivered.

Thanks for bearing with us as we fix this, and sorry again for the scare.

Update (3/1/11, 12:20 PM PST): Data for the remaining 0.012% of affected users has been successfully restored from tapes and is now being processed. We plan to begin moving data into mailboxes in 2 hours, and in the hours that follow users will regain access to their data. Accounts with more mail will take more time. Thanks for bearing with us.

Update (3/2/11, 10:55 PM PST): Gmail should be back to normal for the vast majority of people affected by this issue. If you are still experiencing issues, please contact us at the temporary alias we've set up for this particular issue, gmail-maintenance@google.com. Thanks again for bearing with us.

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Many Gmail power users have elaborate label systems to help organize their mail -- some help file and retrieve mail, others help manage their attention.

We created the “Hide read labels” and “Hide Labels from Subjects” labs to help people manage their ever-growing lists of labels. Given the popularity and usefulness of these labs, we’ve decided to graduate them into fully-fledged features. We’ve also made a few improvements to how they work. First, instead of simply hiding all labels from subject lines, you can now choose which labels to show or hide. We also spiffed up and organized the Labels tab in Settings as well as the dropdown menus for each label in the label list.


If you had enabled either Labs feature, your settings should automatically be carried over. If there was a glitch in the matrix, or if you want to change the visibility for a bunch of labels quickly, you can adjust them en masse by going to the Labels tab in Settings.

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Cross posted from the Google Docs blog

The Google Docs Viewer is used by millions of people every day to quickly view PDFs, Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint presentations online. Not only is viewing files in your browser far more secure than downloading and opening them locally, but it also saves time and doesn’t clutter up your hard-drive with unwanted files.

Today we’re excited to launch support for 12 new file types:
  • Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 / 2010 (.PPTX)
  • Apple Pages (.PAGES)
  • Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
  • Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
  • Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
  • Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
  • PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
  • TrueType (.TTF)
  • XML Paper Specification (.XPS)
Not only does this round out support for the major Microsoft Office file types (we now support DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS and XLSX), but it also adds quick viewing capabilities for many of the most popular and highly-requested document and image types.

In Gmail, these types of attachments will now show a “View” link, and clicking on this link will bring up the Google Docs Viewer.



You can also upload and share these files in Google Docs, so that anyone can view the content using their browser.

And as always, the Google Docs Viewer is available for use on any website, with both a full Chrome and embedded option. More information can be found here.

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(Cross-posted from the Google Blog)

Has anyone you know ever lost control of an email account and inadvertently sent spam—or worse—to their friends and family? There are plenty of examples (like the classic "Mugged in London" scam) that demonstrate why it's important to take steps to help secure your activities online. Your Gmail account, your photos, your private documents—if you reuse the same password on multiple sites and one of those sites gets hacked, or your password is conned out of you directly through a phishing scam, it can be used to access some of your most closely-held information.

Most of us are used to entrusting our information to a password, but we know that some of you are looking for something stronger. As we announced to our Google Apps customers a few months ago, we've developed an advanced opt-in security feature called 2-step verification that makes your Google Account significantly more secure by helping to verify that you're the real owner of your account. Now it's time to offer the same advanced protection to all of our users.

2-step verification requires two independent factors for authentication, much like you might see on your banking website: your password, plus a code obtained using your phone. Over the next few days, you'll see a new link on your Account Settings page that looks like this:


Take your time to carefully set up 2-step verification—we expect it may take up to 15 minutes to enroll. A user-friendly set-up wizard will guide you through the process, including setting up a backup phone and creating backup codes in case you lose access to your primary phone. Once you enable 2-step verification, you'll see an extra page that prompts you for a code when you sign in to your account. After entering your password, Google will call you with the code, send you an SMS message or give you the choice to generate the code for yourself using a mobile application on your Android, BlackBerry or iPhone device. The choice is up to you. When you enter this code after correctly submitting your password we'll have a pretty good idea that the person signing in is actually you.


It's an extra step, but it's one that significantly improves the security of your Google Account because it requires the powerful combination of both something you know—your username and password—and something that only you should have—your phone. A hacker would need access to both of these factors to gain access to your account. If you like, you can always choose a "Remember verification for this computer for 30 days" option, and you won't need to re-enter a code for another 30 days. You can also set up one-time application-specific passwords to sign in to your account from non-browser based applications that are designed to only ask for a password, and cannot prompt for the code.

To learn more about 2-step verification and get started, visit our Help Center. And for more about staying safe online, see our ongoing security blog series or visit http://www.staysafeonline.org/. Be safe!

Update Dec 7, 2011: Updated the screenshots in this post.

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(Cross-posted from the Mobile blog)

If you’ve ever cursed a phone’s tiny screen as utterly inadequate for sifting through an overflowing inbox you’ll be pleased to hear that the Gmail mobile web app now supports Priority Inbox. Priority Inbox helps combat information overload by automatically identifying your important messages so you can focus on those first. Until today it was only available on the desktop and Android devices.

Now, once you set up Priority Inbox in the desktop version of Gmail, you’ll see Priority Inbox sections when you visit gmail.com from your phone’s browser and click on the ‘Menu’ screen. You’ll also see importance markers in your inbox, so you can quickly identify which messages are important.


This feature is available for most mobile browsers that support HTML5, such as devices running Android 1.5+ and iOS 3+. If you have suggestions or want to learn more, visit our Help Center and forum.

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Organizing your Gmail contacts into groups can save you time when you’re writing messages to multiple people at once. For example, if you create a “Family” group, instead of addressing an email to your mom, dad, sister and brother, you can just start typing “Family” and Gmail will complete the rest. Today we’re making two improvements to contact groups which should make them easier to create and control.

First, let’s say you have a list of coworkers you think you’ll want to contact again in the future. Now, you can paste that list into the Add to group menu when viewing your “Coworkers” group to populate or extend it.


Second, we’ve added the ability to specify which one of your contact’s email addresses you want to use in a given group. So, for example, you can now use your friend’s personal address in your “Poker Buddies” group and that same friend’s work address in your “Coworkers” group.


We're always listening for feedback about what we can do to make Contacts, and all of Gmail, better, so let us know what you think.