Google Drive, the cloud storage and applications suite used by millions at home and at work, has suffered three service interruptions this week, making it impossible at times for affected users to access their files and applications.
As logged in the official Google Apps Status site, the first incident happened on Monday, and was an outage that lasted about three hours and affected 33 percent of Google Drive user requests. Affected users got error messages, long load times and timeouts, according to an incident report posted on Wednesday.
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This problem was triggered by a bug in the Google network's control software, which caused the system to shift traffic over to unaffected network connections and servers. Unfortunately, this traffic load-balancing increased latency in the servers and caused another glitch, this time in the software that manages Drive user connections and sessions, causing the access problems.
According to Google, it fixed the control software bug that caused the initial problem, and will change its load balancing policy to provide "greater isolation" between network services. The company is also fixing the second Drive-specific bug, making changes so Drive will be "far more resilient" to latency and errors, and to improve Drive's alert and monitoring system.
Drive suffered another outage on Tuesday that affected an undetermined number of users and lasted apparently two hours. On Thursday -- the day after Google published the report about the first incident -- Drive was rocked by another outage that took about 12 hours to patch. It's not clear what portion of Drive users were affected by this third incident, which Google first acknowledged at around 9:30 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time and declared resolved at around 8:40 p.m.
Google Drive is part of free, individual Google accounts, as well as a component of Google Apps, the suite for businesses, schools and government agencies that also includes Gmail, Calendar and Sites. Google Apps is free for schools and universities, but starts at US$50 per user, per year, or $5 per user, per month, for businesses.
As Google Drive faltered this week, frazzled users took to discussion forums, Twitter and other social media forums to express their frustration and anger about losing access to their documents.
Last week, Microsoft struggled to contain a bug that affected Hotmail and Outlook.com webmail services for about 16 hours and its SkyDrive cloud storage service for several hours.