I logged in to Gmail earlier this past December 2006 — only to find that my localization setting was set to Chinese.  It took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to get it back to English, mostly because I don't read Chinese! 

I assumed it was just a fluke.  Maybe my cat walked on the keyboard?  My password wasn't particularly strong, but based on what happened, I doubt it has to do with that.  The data is just plain missing.  But then I noticed something else …

Gmail appears to have eaten 7 days of my email!  Some of it was more than vaguely important.  No, I wouldn't make something like this up to get attention.  Here's a screen shot to document it (taken 4:30AM EST after I changed it back to English):

Notice that really big gap.  No, I didn't delete it, and it's not in my trash folder, either.  This is not an attack on Google in any way, but I felt this should be blogged as there is no "bug report" selection when you contact them, and not any assurances that I will be contacted back.  It may not be an isolated event — other reports of this are here and here.

I contacted Google with all relevant details, but I got a form letter back.  They refuse to provide me with logs that document who logged in and whether I was hacked.  I decided that because I wasn't entirely sure that I was not hacked that I would not report it.  But — more recently, Search Engine Land reports that Google admitted that some email in the same date range was lost — and for some users, all email.  They claim they helped all users.  Nope.  All I got was a bunch of form letters making veiled accusations that my password might have sucked. 

From now on I will be forwarding my emails to another location as a backup.  It really scares me that this happened.  And it bothers me even more that while Google claims to be "reaching out" to people, that I all I got was a form letter email that said I should "keep my password secure."  Somehow I doubt that it was "only 60 people," as reported.  Somehow I really doubt it.

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