Updated 6:44 a.m. PST to reflect that Gmail service was restored.
Business and personal users of Gmail suffered an outage starting about 1:30 a.m. PST Tuesday, but Google said it's fixed the problem.
"If you've tried to access your Gmail account today, you are probably aware by now that we're having some problems. Shortly after
10 9:30am GMT our monitoring systems alerted us that Gmail consumer and businesses accounts worldwide could not get access to their email," said Acacio Cruz, Google's Gmail site reliability manager, in a blog posting Tuesday. "We're working very hard to solve the problem and we're really sorry for the inconvenience."
"The problem is now resolved and users have had access restored," Google said on its Gmail status page. "Many" users were affected, Google said.
Google promises that customers paying for the Google Apps service will have access to Gmail at least 99.9 percent of the time each month or Google has to pay a penalty. So far Google hasn't dipped below that, the company said last year.
The company took advantage of the problem to tout the new Gmail Labs feature that permits offline access to Gmail for customers in the U.S. and U.K. With it, people can read, search, label, and archive their e-mail and compose new messages, but of course messages aren't sent or received until network access is restored.
Outages pose problems for Google as it tries to persuade companies to buy into its cloud-computing vision, in which applications are hosted on the Internet rather than on corporate computers. But Google argues its service availability is competitive with most organizations' abilities to run their own e-mail servers.