We had some reports coming in about Gmail (Google Mail) outages preventing users from accessing their mail accounts on the website for several hours. This can be a big issue depending on how you are using Gmail. If you use it for work, it can be a serious problem as you cannot communicate with colleagues or customers in that time.
It is especially critical in situations where customers or colleagues require an immediate, or near real-time answer. If you cannot access your email account at all, you cannot read the emails nor respond to them which may lead to lost business among other issues.
Gmail can be inaccessible for a number of reasons. Maybe it is only the web interface that is not available, or, and this is more serious, the whole service is not accessible for a certain amount of time.
You can try and access Gmail using third party applications using Pop3 or IMAP protocols if only the web interface is not accessible. You do need to enable that feature first before you can do so though.
Amit discovered that he was able to retrieve mails from his Gmail account even though the web interface was down. This is a pretty neat trick which can be used, or at least tried, if you cannot connect to the gmail web interface.
To enable POP or IMAP for your Gmail account:
A program that you can use to access Gmail via Pop3 or IMAP is Mozilla Thunderbird, a free email client. It is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X and easily installed and configured.
Update: Gmail users who need to have access to their messages at all times have now another option. The Google Chrome extension Gmail Offline allows them to store their emails on a local PC. The extension synchronizes the messages automatically when the user logs in, so that they become available even if the Gmail website is not accessible, or if the computer is not connected to the Internet.
This option only works in the Chrome browser, and not in other web browsers like Firefox or Internet Explorer. Those users can still use an email client for that.
Note that this only provides you access with mails that you have previously received, not mails that are send to your Gmail account while the service is not available.
Another option is to use the Gmail client on your mobile phone, which should also work just fine if only the Gmail website is down but the service itself is operational.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.