Today, Google’s Gmail service experienced a system-wide outage that affected regular Gmail accounts as well as enterprise users. In the course of the afternoon, the service came back up for a little while, but as of now, there are still a lot of users who can’t access their accounts (Update: looks like Gmail is now up and running again). Google is updating users through a forum on Google Groups. A lot of frustrated Gmail users used Twitter to voice their grievances, which, surprisingly, handled this sudden spike in traffic extremely well.

Google suffered a similar outage just last week, when a large number of users couldn’t access their Google Apps and Gmail accounts, though this time, Google Apps seems to be running just fine.

Update #2: Google has now posted an entry on the Official Gmail blog, explaining that the outage was caused “by a temporary outage in our contacts system that was preventing Gmail from loading properly.”

Twitter Keeps Humming Along

As quite a few users on Twitter and FriendFeed pointed out, maybe even more amazing than Gmail suffering a prolonged downtime was the fact that Twitter coped with the sudden spike in traffic very well. That, together with the fact that Twitter has already been quite stable lately, is a promising sign for a service that often went down at random times.

Today, at the height of the outage, Twitter’s search returned close to 1000 updates with the word ‘gmail’ in it within less than five minutes.