The unintentional experiment seems to say we can’t!

Could you live without Email?

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UPDATE: Gawab service was finally restored 2011-07-03, just over a month after going down. All emails sent to that account during that time were lost. Gawab have not publicly apologised, or given an explanation as to why their service was down for such an extended amount of time.

Just like my last post, the inspiration for this one dates back to a month ago, when I received this message on my iPhone (1st June 2011):

Error connecting to Gawab

Error connecting to Gawab

I originally started using Gawab back in about 2003 or 2004, back when Hotmail offered only 2 Megabytes of online storage. Google’s Gmail which was going to offer 1 Gigabyte of storage was still at least a year away, so I started looking for services which offered larger and larger inbox sizes, as I remember, this is the history of my email providers and their storage sizes at the time:

  • MSN Hotmail – 2 MB
  • Yahoo – 4 MB
  • Yahoo (When registered through GeoCities) – 6 MB
  • Gawab – 15 MB
  • St. George’s International Email Service (SGIES) – 60 MB (later upgraded to 120 MB after winning a survey competition)

FYI, SGIES was notorious for going down often, and I later found out that this “professionally hosted email service” was actually hosted from some kid’s bedroom! It eventually went offline all together, but again, at very short notice, so I didn’t receive the final “goodbye” messages!

To this day, I still have my Hotmail, Yahoo and Gawab addresses, the latter I originally used with PGP. As soon as I got that error message on my iPhone, I looked up the Gawab homepage and found this:

Gawab database error

Gawab database error

This looks like a major server had gone down and there was no information about what had happened. Later, I found Gawab’s official Facebook homepage, which is currently host to a huge unhappy group of both paying and non-paying customers, many angry because they either use this service with their business, or to manage their finances (e.g. online banking). Gawab has been putting up the same update on their website and changing the date every now and again, but without any progress.

Gawab's rather ironic message under their status update!

Gawab's rather ironic message under their status update!

Which brings me onto the question, can we live without email?

When looking at a friend’s email account, I saw, no less than 27,780 unread email messages! How did he reach this stupidly high number? Very simply, he uses this account for Facebook, and intentionally ignores any updates from Facebook! Now, I know there are many others who do this too, and call me old fashioned, but I prefer to mark these messages as read, so that means when I actually get an email, I can easily see if it needs my attention. If my inbox is clogged with unread emails, it would be very easy to miss an important message.

When Gawab went down, many complaints from users on the Facebook page were that they were losing money because of this downtime, and that they were moving to another provider. As for the average user, many people use email to talk to friend and family, especially over a long distance because it’s free.

I personally couldn’t live without email, could you?