Next time when you can't access Gmail, be happy that Gmail is down only for a few minutes. Other people have to live days without their Gmail accounts (and you know it's hard to do that).
Last week, the Gmail team realized that a bunch of spammers found a temporary home at gmail.com. Says the Gmail team: "We have been actively investigating a batch of accounts that were accidentally disabled and are currently in the process of re-enabling these accounts. This error occurred in an effort to target a large network of spammers to keep them out of the Gmail system and keep your inbox free from spam. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your patience as we re-enable these accounts as quickly as possible."
Collateral damages, you'll say. But not if you're one of the poor souls who had the misfortune to be the target of Gmail's team raid. While some of the accounts were disabled, others didn't have links to email attachments.
Benedikt ("benedictus" means "blessed" in Latin), the wise soul from Gmail's Google Group, saves the day:
I think this extremely unfortunate event shows us the danger of having all the important information in one place, a place that depends on the functionality of one large software package, such as GoogleMail. (...)
What we experience right now is such a failure and most of the posts in this topic that have been posted before this one show us the consequences that can have. So let us hope that the capable engineers of Google will succeed in restoring GoogleMail's full functionatlity as they have succeded in building up the virtual world of collaboration, information and communication that has made Google what it is today.
While Gmail is a useful web application, you shouldn't use it to store mission-critical files or information. And if you do, make sure you have backups: store your files on different storage mediums, forward your Gmail messages to other accounts or pray that Gmail team doesn't have a bad day and disables your account. If you see an error message like "Lockdown in sector 4 (or 6)", complain to Google.
Google says they promptly re-enabled the affected accounts, but there are still people who can't access Gmail. And might "move their operations" to other sites, if the Gmail team continues to treat them like that.
I've been locked out of my original email for a full 7 days come midnight. I'm also locked out of anything google associated, so I can't post new content to my blog, nor check AdSense income. I thought I would have to wait the standard 5 days and now I realize my account wasn't having password issues, this was a long standing issue that it seems they knew about.
Which makes me upset enough to move my operations from google; I hope everyone else does the same...this is the only free email service I have known with regular outages, shutdowns and no customer support. The last time I lost access to my email was 3/14/06, my birthday no less...luckily, I got it back in 24 hours. Now, it's been 7 days.