UPDATE: Google confirms Sync was the cause of the Chrome crashes yesterday

Credit: loco's photos via Flickr

Update: Google has confirmed that the Chrome crashes were caused by a problem with the Sync service, but has not confirmed whether this outage was connected to the Gmail outage that happened around the same time. On the Chromium user forum, Google engineer Tim Steele wrote that it had nothing to do with Gmail specifically.

Here's an excerpt from his comment

- Chrome Sync Server relies on a backend infrastructure component to enforce quotas on per-datatype sync traffic.

- That quota service experienced traffic problems today due to a faulty load balancing configuration change.

- That change was to a core piece of infrastructure that many services at Google depend on. This means other services may have been affected at the same time, leading to the confounding original title of this bug.

- Because of the quota service failure, Chrome Sync Servers reacted too conservatively by telling clients to throttle "all" data types, without accounting for the fact that not all client versions support all data types.

The crash is due to faulty logic responsible for handling "throttled" data types on the client when the data types are unrecognized.

Earlier: When it works right, integration between multiple cloud services can be a huge benefit to users. But when things go awry, that same integration can cause cascading failures.

Google's Gmail service was down for about 20 minutes this morning, and the outage appears to have caused Google's Chrome browser to crash randomly as well. 

I personally noticed the problem when I tried to post a link on Google+, Google's social networking service. Similar reports were all over Twitter -- including one from journalist Danny Sullivan, who reported that using Google Drive crashed Chrome for him.

Google hasn't released any information about the Gmail failure, but has acknowledged it on its Apps Dashboard. 

But users on Hacker News and Google Plus have speculated that the Chrome failures were caused by a problem with the Google Sync service, which lets users sign into the browser in order to sync bookmarks across multiple browsers. A bug report on Chromium -- the open-source community devoted to the Chrome browser and OS, also suggested the outage was related to problems with Sync.

While only a short outage, it's a good reminder of the hazards of relying too heavily on an integrated set of cloud services from a single provider. 

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