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Google Docs goes down, user data does not [Updated]

The search giant's online productivity application suite experiences some feature downtime for about 45 minutes, but the outage does not take documents down with it.

Google's Documents and Spreadsheets service went down for approximately 45 minutes earlier this morning.

The service, Google's online productivity suite, went from having some features not working, like the log-out button and the document creation drop-down menu, to coming up with a 404 page.

The downtime calls into question the importance that online Web applications play in business use, as well as how Google's free document services have come to replace software solutions such as Microsoft Office for some users or teams that use Google's real-time collaboration features.

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As a reminder, outages for Google Results should not result in data loss. Google's GFS (Google File System) backup method is one of the most rigorous systems used by any data host. As I mentioned in a post from last year, a lost copy of your data on one server is backed up in a dozen other places, so you won't even notice.

Update: Google has responded to The Register's query about this morning's outage with this statement:

"For a short period this morning, our users had difficulty accessing Google Docs. Some Google Apps users were also affected ... We have now resolved the problem. We know how important Google Docs is to our users, so we take issues like this very seriously."

The Official Google Docs blog has not been updated with any additional notes, or an explanation of what exactly went wrong, although Google Docs' help section has some small notes first acknowledging the problem, along with a note to say it was fixed.

Update 2: Google spokesman Jason Freidenfelds tells us the problem stemmed from the servers that control the view of the document workspace as well as the home document listing. The data where your documents were stored suffered no down time.

Interestingly enough, of the three services offered in Google Docs, only the word processor and presentation tool were truly down. If you had a link to a spreadsheet you could apparently view and edit it just fine.

As for any reimbursement or discounts to paying enterprise class Google Apps users (who were also affected), we're waiting to hear back if any such thing will be offered. Freidenfelds says Google is serious about keeping all of its services, both free and paid running at all times and that the problem in question should not happen again. If anything, this blip should give any business using these Web-only tools some idea of having a backup solution on hand in case the service goes down again.