Monday, March 27, 2006

Solution for (Some) Gmail Outages

A couple days ago CNET did an article on users having problems accessing Gmail for long periods. Gmail has become so important to many of us that is not acceptable. I have had some trouble occasionally but usually hitting reload a few times very quickly and/or Ctrl+Reload (override cache) will fix it. I just got another one and this time the usual fix didn't solve the problem.

My problem doesn't appear to be a problem on Google's end. I think it is a problem with the browser's cache (in my case Firefox). If the browser keeps attempting to load corrupted versions of the Gmail pages it will never get in. Using IE or Opera on the same computer and I can login and read email fine. It also works in Firefox on my laptop fine (on the same network). Once I cleared the cache I can get into Gmail fine again.

I have seen similar with Yahoo Mail a while back. A friend just could not log on from her computer, but on mine she had no problem. Yahoo just kept asking for her password again and again as if it was confirming it after a time of inactivity. It wasn't saying the password was wrong, it just kept wanting confirmation. I cleared the cache and the problem went away. But it took a long time to realize that was the problem. She was using IE so this is not a browser specific problem. And it is not a Gmail specific problem either.

So the solution (for at least some cases) if you can't get into Gmail is to clear your browser's cache. For help on clearing your browser's cache, see this page at The PC Doctor.

Update: Looks like the reason Ctrl+Reload didn't work is because the override cache button combination is Shift+Reload instead. You can also use Ctrl+Shift+R if you don't want to use the mouse. That might solve the problem, but since I don't have the problem anymore I can't test it.

Update 2: I knew my solution was too simple to fix everyone's problem. It had been a couple days since I carefully read the article. Clearly there are much bigger issues going with Gmail. But the cache problem is surely the cause of some user's complaints. Whatever else is going on, Google needs to fix it very soon.

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