Google Incorporated's Personalized Home Page service, which lets users turn Google.com into a customized portal, is suffering from an apparently significant technical problem that is reverting some of the home pages to old versions or to their original default settings. Angry users have lit up discussion boards on Thursday, complaining about the problem and expressing frustration at the possibility that they have lost the time they spent customizing their pages, while lamenting the hit on productivity the issue has caused them.
The problem affects an unknown portion of Personalized Home Page users. A Google official posting to one of the longer threads about the problem wrote in a message at 12:25 p.m. ET that Google is in "frantic-chase-down-this-bug mode here at the Googleplex, and I hope to have more info for you soon. It's possible that changing your homepage theme might cause the problem. So, if you still have your homepage intact, please avoid changing your theme until further notice." The official, posting under the name Google Guide Jaime, acknowledged that Google engineers are in the dark about the cause of the problem.
Alarmingly, he also acknowledged it's not clear whether users will be able to recover their customized pages. The first problems were apparently reported at around 6 a.m. ET on Thursday. This, among other issues, is one of the risks of relying on hosted applications providers, a system Google is ironically particularly fond of.