Google Says It’s Not Possible To Prevent Outages

Google can’t fully prevent search outages, but the company is getting better at communicating issues when they’re discovered.

Google says it’s impossible to prevent outages from happening, but the company is aiming to get better at alerting the community when issues are detected.

This topic is discussed by Google’s Search Relations team, which is made up of John Mueller, Martin Splitt, and Gary Illyes.

Together, in the latest episode of the Search Off the Record podcast, they discuss what to expect from Google in 2022 and beyond.

Among the topics they address is whether there will be fewer outages this year.

Unfortunately, Google can’t make that promise.

However, you can expect more communication from Google when outages and bugs are discovered.

Here are some highlights from the discussion on Google outages.

Google Outages Will Continue To Happen

Outages will absolutely continue to happen, so don’t be surprised when one occurs.

As Illyes says, Google runs on computers, and they’re prone to outages from time to time.


“So, another theme that came up, I guess towards the end of last year, was everything around outages where something went wrong in Search, or something got stuck in Search Console, and it felt like there are lots of these happening. Is that something that you think the Search side will fix so there are no more outages and everyone will be happy?”


“I mean, we have outages. I mean, they are computers. Computers have outages every now and then, and we are trying to be as redundant as possible when it comes to processing units. But we are still going to have outages.”

As Mueller notes, it seemed like outages were occurring more frequently toward the end of last year, but that wasn’t necessarily the case.

Illyes goes on to explain how that perception was created as a result of Google improving its communication around outages.

Google To Be More Transparent About Outages

Google started to talk more about outages last year, which led to the perception they were occurring with greater frequency.

Illyes says it’s not that there were more outages, it’s that Google started to announce outages that previously would have gone unnoticed.

“One thing to note is that we did start to talk more about outages, and previously, you could just not notice the outages because we were not talking about them, and it affected only a small portion of the Internet, for example.”

You can expect more of that communication going forward.

Even if an outage isn’t noticed by the search community, Google will still announce them when they’re discovered internally.

“We are announcing outages even if they were not noticed externally yet, or they were noticed by a certain geographic region, for example. And at least the perception will be that we are having more outages. I think our SRE team, the Site Reliability Engineers, they would prefer to have fewer outages, but it’s up to them to make that happen.”

While it may seem like there are more outages occurring, it’s just Google acknowledging and talking about them more.

It’s not that there are actually more outages happening.