The Google home page on a laptop.
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As unlikely as it may seem, even Google experiences outages occasionally. Sometimes Google Search will operate while other Google services experience problems of their own. There’s also the possibility that the problem is on your end, instead.

How to Check if Google Is Really Down

While it can happen, Google being genuinely unavailable is a very rare occurrence. The first thing to do would be to double-check using a tool like DownForEveryoneOrJustMe, Down.com, or IsItDownOrJustMe. Keep in mind that an outage could be localized to your region, so these websites may show differing or incorrect results.

Down.com result

If you suspect that there really is an outage, you can always check on social media websites like Twitter and Reddit. This sort of event doesn’t happen very often and so people will be talking about it, especially if it’s also affecting services like Google Drive and Gmail.

It’s more likely that the problem is on your end, so let’s take a look at some potential remedies.

Check Google’s Service Status Page

For a better picture, Google’s Workspace Status Dashboard shows the status of apps like Gmail and Google Drive. If you’re having trouble accessing a specific product, this is a good place to start. If something is down, you’ll have to wait until the issue is fixed to get a resolution.

Try a Different Browser (or App)

One of the first things you might want to try is switching to a different browser. We’ve noticed issues with Safari, particularly using iCloud Private Relay, where Google searches permanently hang. These issues don’t occur in Google Chrome or Firefox, so it’s another example of why it’s a good idea to have more than one browser installed.

Google services like Docs and Sheets generally always work best in Chrome, though most browsers should work just fine. Mobile users can use the corresponding app for iOS and Android to get the best results.

If you’re having trouble with the Google App for iOS or Android, try killing the app or use your web browser instead. You can try updating or reinstalling the app if the problem persists.

Restart Your Device

Turning your computer or smartphone off and then on again is a quick way of fixing a huge number of problems. If you are having problems reaching Search or a particular Google service, reboot your device and try again.

RELATED: Why Does Rebooting a Computer Fix So Many Problems?

Try a Different Connection Type

If the problem is being caused by your internet connection, you can try connecting via a different connection type. If you’re having trouble with your computer over your home wireless connection, try connecting using your smartphone over cellular.

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You can even create a hotspot and share your cellular connection with your home computer and try connecting that way, which may serve as a temporary fix in some instances.

Using Google Search in Safair for iOS over 4G

If you find that switching to cellular works, you may want to fully reboot your network hardware (router and modem) to see if that fixes the problem. You can also check your ISP’s service status page to see if any known issues are affecting specific services.

RELATED: Internet Connection Not Working? 10 Troubleshooting Tips

Consider Changing Your DNS Server

The Domain Name System functions as a phone book of sorts, linking domains (like howtogeek.com) and IP addresses. By default, you will be using your ISP’s DNS servers, but you can easily change to an alternative. You may even find that your web browsing is faster after you switch.

Changing DNS on macOS

Changing your DNS server is pretty easy, with some good alternatives being Google Public DNS (8.8.8.8) or CloudFlare (1.1.1.1).

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Changing Your DNS Server

Use an Alternative Search Engine

Whether or not the problem is with Google’s servers, your internet connection, or a software problem on your end; if Google Search isn’t working you’ll need to use a different search engine until things have been resolved.

DuckDuckGo is an alternative search engine that’s focused on privacy. You can perform all your searches with DuckDuckGo with a little effort, but you’ll miss out on deep integration with Google’s services and the results are admittedly not quite as exhaustive. If privacy is a concern, there are a few other search engines you might want to consider too.

StartPage Home

If you want results from Google in particular, Startpage is a service that has a unique agreement with Google. This allows you to piggyback Google results without the tracking and accompanying privacy concerns. The service isn’t a one-for-one replacement, results aren’t identical, and you’ll miss out on integration with Google’s suite of services; but Google is powering Startpage at its core.

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Microsoft’s Bing search engine is probably the closest thing to Google. There are some compelling reasons to switch to Bing if you don’t mind relying on a different large corporation for your search efforts. By far one of the best reasons is to take advantage of Microsoft Rewards, where you earn credit for services like Xbox Live, Amazon, and more.

One thing to note is that if a website you frequent (like this one) uses Google as a search engine and you’re unable to use Google Search, website functionality may also be affected. You can always use operators like “site:howtogeek.com” in other search engines to restrict results to a particular domain instead.

Use Alternative Services to Google Maps, Docs, and More

Google operates a huge number of additional services, many of which could be affected by an outage or some sort of problem on your end. This includes Google Maps, Google Drive, applications like Gmail, and the company’s suite of browser-based apps like Google Docs and Google Sheets. Plenty of alternative apps exist to break you out of the Google ecosystem.

For maps, try Bing Maps or DuckDuckGo’s Apple Maps-powered mapping alternative that promises to respect your privacy. There’s also OpenStreetMap, your favorite alternative app like Apple Maps (for Mac or iOS) and Maps.me (for iOS and Android).

If you absolutely cannot reach Google’s services, then any data you have stored in your Drive will also be inaccessible unless it’s also being mirrored to a device using the Drive app. This is one of the potential problems that come with storing things in the cloud.

Apple Maps

If you only need temporary use of a word processor then there are plenty of offline and online text editing apps to choose from. The same is true for spreadsheet tools like LibreOffice Calc and Apple Numbers.

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Gmail is the other obvious concern for a Google outage. You can always try using an email client that communicates via IMAP instead (like Apple Mail on an iPhone) to see if the issue is limited strictly to the web version. First-party Gmail apps may also be worth a try. If your only problem is Gmail not receiving emails, though, there are a few extra things you can try.

If you use a desktop or mobile email client that stores email offline, you may be able to access the contents of your inbox that way instead. If you only have a Gmail account and you absolutely need to send an email, consider registering for an alternative free mail service instead.

Google Is Very Rarely Down

Most of the time, the problem will be with your own software or connection. You can run through a list of connection troubleshooting steps and see if that helps, use traceroute to figure out exactly where the problem lies, and examine whether or not your ISP is to blame.

RELATED: Internet Problems? Here's How to Tell if It's Your ISP's Fault

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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