Bug locks up Gmail accounts for students

A Google software update released a bug affecting about 40,000 users’ accounts.

Ashley Aram

A weekend service outage that locked a small number of Gmail e-mail accounts and even deleted the contents of some had an impact at the University of Minnesota.

Journalism instructor Sarah McKenzie lost access to her news editing classâÄô blog during the outage.

“They said they were doing maintenance, and as a result the blog for the class went down for a couple of days,” McKenzie said. “ItâÄôs frustrating because I use that to post class readings and the agenda for what weâÄôre doing.”

Though class still met as usual, students remarked on the impact it had on class.

“Class was a little bit different that day,” junior Jessica Bies said. “Usually weâÄôll have the blog up throughout the whole class and go to different links and stuff.”

According to Google, a storage software update released a bug that affected only about 40,000, or 0.02 percent, of Gmail accounts.

The Office of Information TechnologyâÄôs campus technology hotline said it didnâÄôt receive any calls related to the outage problem.

But while the University went largely unharmed, the situation still caused some anxiety for Bies.

“ItâÄôs kind of scary to think of it,” she said. “It seems like everyone communicates via e-mail these days, so not being able to do that would have a pretty big impact on peopleâÄôs day-to-day lives.”

The University began moving its student and staff e-mail system to Gmail in 2009.