Downtime for August 11, 2014

UPDATE August 12, 2014 –  We have managed to recover most of the missing emails, and will work to restore them over the next couple days.

On Monday, August 11, 2014 we took ProtonMail offline for upgrades, which we estimated would take just a few minutes. Part of the upgrades for Monday were to optimize our database table structure, which would speed up the performance of the site for all users.

Unfortunately, a wrong command typed by one of our developers resulted in corrupting the messages table which resulted in losing messages for most of Sunday and the earlier part of Monday (about 20 hours). Needless to say this was a terrible mistake and we’re very sorry that this happened.

This seemingly benign update took a terrible turn because our standard operating procedure (SOP) wasn’t followed. Because a backup was not made prior to beginning database operations (as mandated by our SOP), we lost a day’s worth of user data. The ProtonMail team is growing right now, and unfortunately, we did not properly communicate our standard operating procedures to some of the new team members.

In the next few weeks we will be rolling out a more robust server architecture and deployment process that will not only speed up the site, but also increase reliability, reduce the need for downtime and prevent these sort of errors from happening. We will also be increasing oversight of staff and centralizing operations to improve our internal communications and ensure our established procedures are always followed.

These procedures have helped ProtonMail avoid data loss and extended downtime up until today, and could have prevented the incident today.

The road to bringing privacy back to email is a challenging one, but its all been possible thanks to your support. Over the coming weeks, we will be building in multiple safeguards to prevent data loss in the future. Thanks for bearing with us through our beta and understanding that human errors like this do happen.

About the Author

Jason Stockman

Jason is a co-founder of ProtonMail. He works on building ProtonMail's user interface and websites. Jason has over 10 years experience building websites and applications.