For some 150,000 Gmail users who found their inboxes wiped entirely clean over the weekend, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Google managed to restore virtually all of the affected accounts, thanks to the fact that it backs up everything on tape.
Google blamed a “software bug” for the incident, which managed to completely delete every message for 0.02% of its Gmail accounts. It said the glitch was highly rare because it not only removed the e-mails, but also the numerous online backups that Google regularly keeps as well.
Luckily for those affected, Google maintains offline data backups as well. So the company had to manually go through its massive collection of physical backup tapes to restore content to the unfortunate users.
“Restoring data from them takes longer than transferring your requests to another data centre, which is why it’s taken us hours to get the e-mail back instead of milliseconds,” wrote Google ‘site reliability czar’ Ben Treynor in an official Gmail blog post.
“Thanks for bearing with us as we fix this, and sorry again for the scare,” he added.
So Google prevented a doomsday scenario in which people lost every e-mail they ever sent, thanks to its intense data backup routine.