G Suite Status Dashboard
Photo: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

Every now and then, G Suite services don’t work as expected. For example, on Monday, January 27, 2020, I tried to rename a Google Sheet on my Chromebook, but I couldn’t. A few minutes later, I received an email from a client with the subject “Is Google Docs down?” and a screenshot of a Google Docs error message. Soon, Google confirmed that there was a problem, which was fixed in about 15 minutes.

The following six steps can help you identify the nature of the problem when you encounter an issue connecting to a G Suite app in your browser.

SEE: Cost comparison calculator: G Suite vs. Office 365 (TechRepublic Premium)

1. Check the G Suite Status Dashboard

The G Suite Status Dashboard should be the first place you check when you encounter any difficulties accessing Google services. Open a new tab in your browser and go to https://google.com/appsstatus. Currently, the system displays the reported status for 26 different G Suite and Google services, including Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Google Maps, and Google Classroom, among others.

An orange or red circle in a row next to an app indicates either a service disruption (orange) or outage (red). Select the circle and the system will display status messages about the outage, which includes the time and a brief description of each issue (Figure A).

Figure A

When you click or tap on an indicator circle on the G Suite Status Dashboard, the system displays the service details. This image shows details from a brief Google Drive issue.

2. Check Twitter

People often tweet about problems before the G Suite Status Dashboard formally indicates an issue. For example, in my case, when I checked the Status Dashboard, no issues were reported; however, a search of Twitter for “Google Drive” returned many tweets from people who indicated that they’d encountered a problem.

You may search Twitter even if you don’t have an account. Follow these links to search Twitter for Gmail, Google Drive, or Google Docs, respectively. The linked searches also are sorted to display the latest results first, which means recent tweets will display toward the top of the stream.

In addition, check the @GSuite on Twitter for updates. On the rare occasion that issues occur, the @gsuite account often updates to indicate the service status (Figure B).

Figure B

Sometimes the @gsuite account has updates about G Suite issues.

3. Try a different network and/or device

If neither the G Suite Status Dashboard nor a Twitter search indicate an issue, the problem may be an issue with your network or device. Switch to a different network (e.g., turn off Wi-Fi and access a cellular network on your phone) or check access to the service from a different device (e.g., check to see if a friend or colleague is experiencing a similar problem from their device).

4. Review G Suite Known Issues

On the G Suite Known Issues page, Google lists problems that people may encounter, but are not necessarily related to service disruptions or outages. For example, there’s an issue for Hangouts Meet listed as “People can’t hear an attendee who is using a macOS computer” along with troubleshooting steps (Figure C).

Figure C

For persistent problems, review the G Suite Known Issues page. Some known issues include troubleshooting steps or tips, such as an issue with Hangouts Meet on macOS, as shown.

5. Check with a G Suite admin

Typically, G Suite administrators receive email notifications of service disruptions and outages. So if the above methods don’t work, you might contact your G Suite administrator to learn if they’ve been alerted to any issues. And if you’re the G Suite administrator, check your email!

Additionally, G Suite administrators have access to G Suite Apps Monthly Uptime reports in the Admin Console at https://admin.google.com/ac/appshealth. These reports display uptime information for several G Suite services. However, the data for these reports is nowhere close to real-time: As of late January 2020, the most recent data displayed is for September 2019 (Figure D). This data provides general guidance as to the historical reliability of different apps.

Figure D

A G Suite administrator may access app availability data within Reports in the G Suite Admin console. However, the data provides only historical context. For example, as of January 2020, the most recent data display was for September 2019.

6. Review restricted access

In some countries, access to Google services may be limited. For example, Google notes that people in “Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria” may not be able to access Google services for business or education use. And NetBlocks, an independent civil society group, reports on internet restrictions around the world via the organization’s Twitter account and website.

What’s your experience?

If your organization uses G Suite, have you shared the link to the G Suite Status Dashboard with everyone? If you’re a G Suite administrator, do you have a method in place to notify people of temporary issues? If so, what notification process do you use? Let me know how you verify and notify people of issues, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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