Yesterday a very large number of Gmail users (myself included) were locked out of their web accounts as they were faced with a "Temporary Error (502)" message and a variety of other error codes - though some report the POP and IMAP protocols were working fine. Google attributed the problem to issues with the service's contact system (but provided no further details) and has since fixed the problem.

The search giant has made a public apology to its users while promising to conduct a full review of what went wrong and update its internal procedures accordingly. However, users were highly critical of Google's inability to keep Gmail running smoothly, highlighting just how dependent many have become on web services.

The Gmail problems follow Google Docs and Spreadsheets access problems in July when customers were locked out of the web-based applications for over an hour. Other recent outages have affected customers of Amazon and Apple's MobileMe.