Just about every few month we get a high-profile case of someone getting shut out of their Gmail and other Google services. Google is notorious for freezing accounts without a warning, often in the users defence, i.e. when they detect probability of hacking.
When you’re Loren Baker, Editor of Search Engine Journal and blog about your lockout experience, you can guess your issue will soon be resolved.
In Loren’s case it took 15 hours to get his access restored, and I don’t even want to think how long it would take for less prominent users get their account issues fixed.
There are a few things we can all learn from Loren’s case.
Since Google has decided to take my account away from me, the nucleus of our company communications has been taken away and now is replaced by a black hole. My small business communications are now ruined until my account is reestablished.
Is $50/year for piece of mind and access to phone support too much? That’s the cost of upgrading to Premier Service. I admit I am a free user too – we don’t appreciate the value of immediate phone support until trouble hits.
Yes, I realize not having to deal with backups is a main argument for On-Demand services in the first place, but there are ways of doing it painlessly. If you want offline backup, just use an IMAP-client, like Thunderbird. I don’t – even that’s too much hassle for my laziness.
I have several layers of automated online backups though. The first is within Gmail, where I have an archival account – one that I don’t ever use directly. All it does is collect everything from my other Gmail accounts via POP. Yes, I can hear you – how secure is backing up from Google to Google? Most of the trouble we’re hearing about is account-related, it’s extremely unlikely that Google as a whole would get hit – other than temporary outages.
But I do have another backup, outside Google – the recently announced Mail service from Zoho, sponsors of this blog. I have my business Gmail accounts POP-ed into Zoho Mail, which, due to partly the way Gmail stores information and the filtering abilities in Zoho Mail is always in perfect sync with Gmail: even Sent Mail gets in the right place (typically a problem with POP) and I have all the auto-labels replicated from Gmail. It does not matter which service I use to send mail, it shows up in the right place on the other one.
How about backing up Google Docs? There are a number of ways: Zoho has a process for periodic batch import from Google Docs, but if you want an elegant, fully automated solution, you may just use Syncplicity ( my review here).
I can’t fathom why in the age of $6 domains anyone would use generic email@example.com type email. It’s Branding 101, use your own domain. You don’t have to be a paid premium uses to do this! Other then the obvious branding reason, using your own domain may help in case of technical trouble, too. Loren complains:
Furthermore, my clients all contact me via email addresses associated with my Google Account. Now, when these clients attempt to contact me, or send over time sensitive documents or reports, these emails are now send to a voided account, and now, since Google has decided to block my Google Account, GMail is now serving this negative message to my clients and business associates :
“Technical details of permanent failure: Account disabled”
Thank you Google, you have shone a most negative light on my business with my clients.
You must be able to reclaim your email address in case of failures like this, and the only way to do it if it’s independent of the mail service provider. Use your own domain and you can always re-route it to a backup provider within hours (may take a day for full DNS propagation). Then once you’re satisfied your primary service is back, re-route it again.
Summing it all up: we have come to appreciate the convenience of online services, and are often dependent on them. If you are VERY dependent (i.e. business), don’t be lazy, take a few precautions to avoid disruption.
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