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Google restoring 40,000 lost Gmail accounts

Right now there are 40,000 Gmail users whose accounts are basically lost — their e-mails and contacts have simply vanished. It's going to be alright though, because Google has old-school backup tapes and will use them to restore that missing data.

TechCrunch reports that thanks to Google's tendency to have some "insane data redundancy policies," which apparently include offline tape backups, everything should be restored soon and Google confirms this report in a post on its official Gmail blog

The search engine giant explains that the problem started with a "storage software update" which caused an "unexpected bug" which in turn resulted in the data loss:

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. 

A detailed outline of these events along with an explanation of how Google will prevent similar issues in the future will be posted on the Apps Status Dashboard soon, but in the meantime there is something that affected users need to keep in mind:

 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. 

There are about 200 million Gmail users, so 40,000 is about .02 percent of affected accounts.

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Rosa Golijan writes about tech here and there. She's a bit obsessed with Twitter, but still loves to be liked on Facebook.