Google Apps down. How do we function?

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Wednesday morning, Twitter users flocked to the social media site to complain that Google Apps weren’t workingThe problems started with Gmail and Google Drive before spreading to Google Documents, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Presentations. Google quickly addressed the situation and users were advised to check the Apps Status Dashboard for updates as they investigated the case.

We are often inconvenienced by crashing servers or website maintenance, but Google? We take it for granted that giants like Google will be able to run their services smoothly, constantly. When they can’t, we’re reminded of how much we’ve come to rely on these platforms. Many people are sure to ask, “what can I do at work if I can’t access my email?”

Users of Google Apps were reassured as their Gmail or Google Drive returned to normal service from the disruption. But this isn’t the first time that Google has been hit by such problems – similar disruptions occurred just last month, and they could very well happen again. As we scuttle back to checking our mail and sharing documents, a question on many people’s mind is, what we would do without Google or social media?

Many companies run entirely on such platforms, such as online marketing companiesor other businesses that are Internet-centered – and if an outage occurs at the wrong time, it could be catastrophic for business. Apparently, only .007% of users were affected, but as an article on Forbes points out, “if Gmail has 425 million users, then the outage would have affected 29,750 people.” That’s a lot, and you could be one of those people.

And this isn’t just about work. The Internet has come to change the way in which we interact and solve everyday problems. In the past few days, we have seen the good that has come from social media. After the bombings at the Boston marathon, runners and spectators flocked to social media sites to let family and friends know that they were okay. Thousands of Bostonians used a Google Drive document offering a place to stay or food to anyone that was affected.  There is no doubt that these online services have been of great benefit to us in crisis situations and when the need for communication is dire.

It raises the question: As we become more dependent on these services, will we know what to do if Google or Facebook fails us at the wrong time? It is important to remember those (what seem like) prehistoric times when social media didn’t exist. Take advantage of these awesome new ideas and innovations – but have a backup plan. What’s yours?

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