Global Google downtime caused by ‘internal storage’ issue

14 Dec 2020

Image: © Urupong/

Google has stated that its global downtime was caused by an authentication system outage and issues with internal storage quotas.

Multiple Google services went down around the world today (14 December) as users experienced problems with Google Hangouts, Google Meet and more. People were unable to log into services such as YouTube and Gmail and received error messages while using Google Docs, among other issues.

As of 1.17pm (UTC), the outage had mostly been rectified but a number of glitches seem to remain. For example, TechCrunch has reported that the address bar in Gmail isn’t working for some users.

A spokesperson for Google commented on the downtime to TechCrunch: “Today, at 3.47am PT, Google experienced an authentication system outage for approximately 45 minutes due to an internal storage quota issue.

“Services requiring users to log in experienced high error rates during this period. The authentication system issue was resolved at 4:32am PT. All services are now restored. We apologise to everyone affected, and we will conduct a thorough follow-up review to ensure this problem cannot recur in the future.”

Based on DownDetector, users began reporting problems with Gmail at about 11.30am and these started to surge at 11.40am. By 11.50am, more than 11,500 complaints had been filed for Gmail. That figure was more than 85,000 for YouTube.

The Google Workspace Status Dashboard had a ‘service outage’ icon next to every single service – from Google Calendar to Google Maps – for about an hour. These have since been switched to green, symbolising ‘no issues’.

Tweeting when Google went down

YouTube was one of the few Google Twitter accounts to comment on the issue. At 12.09pm, it said: “We are aware that many of you are having issues accessing YouTube right now – our team is aware and looking into it. We’ll update you here as soon as we have more news.”

Almost exactly one hour later, Google Workspace tweeted: “We’re all clear folks! Thanks for staying with us.”

Among the top 10 trending topics on Twitter during the outage, Google was number one, Gmail was number two and #YouTubeDown was number five. As of 5.15pm, Google was still the second-highest trending topic on the site.

Other services affected by the outage included Pokémon Go, Google Classroom, Google Drive and Stadia.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021