News Outage Was Longer, Larger Than Google Admits

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Tuesday's Google News outage began earlier than the search giant admits, or may even know. Officially, Gnews was down beginning at approximately 12:25 P.M. Pacific Time and lasting "roughly two hours," according to Reuters.

All the company said about Monday's failure is that "many users" had difficulty accessing the site during that time. Earlier in the month, Google Mail was unavailable to a majority of its users for more than an hour. That outage was blamed on router failure.

My Google News, however, stalled about 6:30 A.M. PDT yesterday and was down for more than two hours. During that time, I would get no new stories, although there might be minor changes in the "secondary" members of the story clusters.

During that time, Google News displayed "Updated 1 hour ago" and then "Updated 2 hours ago" and I think I even saw "3 hours ago" before the service resumed behaving normally, sometime after 9 A.M. PDT.

I was away from the computer when the later outage occurred and did not experience it.

The early morning problems were not universal. A friend here in Northern California--after first thinking I was crazy--noticed that his computer, too, said "Updated 1 hour ago" and experienced the same problems I did.

Meanwhile, coworkers in other parts of the country, such as on the East Coast, apparently did not see the outage we experienced.

However, accessing Google News on my iPhone seemed to be unaffected by the early morning outage.

This is not Google News' first outage, won't be the last, and being merely the news feed was not super critical. However, being able to report an outage that Google seems unaware of and preceded an apparently more significant failure by perhaps 6 hours does concern me.

Google is a remarkably complex achievement and for the most part works well. But, as the company attempts to lead us into cloud computing it needs to do a better job of reporting its network status and outages to customers.

Google News, which I have personalized and use at the home page on most of my browsers, is the No. 2 news site in the United States, according to comScore. Yahoo News is No. 1.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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