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Google Docs lost my data

with 5 comments

A few hours ago I received the following apologetic email from Google. (Image here.)

Hello,

We are contacting you because a technical error caused a problem with your [redacted]@gmail.com account. Regrettably, this bug led to the loss of the audio files you had uploaded to your Google Docs account. Our engineers worked for days, but were unable to recover all of them. We have however recovered 1 out of 2 items, which are listed at the end of this email. We cannot provide you with the names of the files that were not recovered since they were fully deleted from our systems. We are very sorry.

We understand this error may have led you to question your trust in Google. We want to reassure you that we are making improvements to continue protecting your account. If you have any questions, please respond to this message.

With regret and a promise to do better,
The Google Docs Team

The information in the email checks out—I do indeed have a file in Google Docs with the same name as the one that was listed at the end of the email (uploaded for testing purposes as it happens), and another audio file that I believe I had uploaded is no longer there.

As it happens the missing file is not vital and was easily recoverable by other means. Nevertheless, my faith in the service is definitely shaken—I certainly have other data in Google Docs that I would be much more unhappy about losing. I’m curious how many other users have been similarly affected.

Aside from that, I find it interesting that the email refers specifically to audio files. Right now Google Docs doesn’t do anything special with audio files. What changes were going on under the hood that would cause audio files in particular to be affected?

Update: As TOMHTML points out in a comment, the problem was first reported over a month ago.

Written by rmlowe

April 22, 2011 at 5:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized