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My Google Reader subscriptions disappeared!

Ooh, this is scary. I got an IM from a friend asking if my Google Reader subscriptions had ever just, you know, disappeared. I replied that no, they hadn’t. His had, but I suggested he just wait a while and see if it was a hiccup.

A few minutes later, I switched tabs to read some feeds, and what do you know – they were gone. Actually, it was set to show “All” items, instead of just unread items, but there were no “Updated” items. My tags were there, but no subscriptions.

I sent out some feelers via my Twitter network, and sure enough, about 5 other people reported that their subscriptions were gone. Jason said that he restarted his browser (Flock), and they came back, which made me think that it was a browser issue. So I fired up Safari 3 beta on my Windows machine (in a Parallels VM, actually), which was the first time it had even been run. A clean, virgin browser. I figured if it was a browser issue (I use Firefox on Mac OS X), they would be fine in Safari on Windows.

Nope. They were gone. And people in my Twitter network continue to report similar problems. Something’s definitely going wrong with some people’s Google Reader accounts. I only hope it’s temporary, and that they fix it soon! Hurry up Google Reader team! I’m starting to twitch from withdrawal over here! :-)

BTW, now is a good time to mention that it’s a good idea to backup your subscription list (whatever reader you use) to OPML once in a while, just in case something disastrous like this does happen. In Google Reader, you can go to http://www.google.com/reader/subscriptions/export – you have to be signed in to Google Reader for that link to work. Or use the Export feature of your favorite reader. This will give you your list of feeds in a nice little OPML file you can backup (I Gmail myself a copy of it once in a while), and you can restore from it by importing if you ever need to. Important safety tip! :-)

I know that my feed list has been cultivated over years, and is the result of many hours of work. Besides my blog and my photos (both of which have multiple redundant backups), it’s probably the thing I’d feel worst about if I ever lost it entirely…

Update: My feeds seem to be back. There’s some coverage on this issue over at TechCrunch (thanks for the link, Mike!) and in this support thread on Google Groups. Stay tuned, and thanks for the comments as to the state of your own feeds. And many thanks to Google for the quick, transparent response to this issue. I’m curious to know the cause of it, and what’s being done to prevent it from happening again.

As an aside, this is an AWESOME example of the power of social networks like Twitter. This story developed and broke within minutes, using Twitter to gather information, corroborate what was happening, and then channel people to relevant updates to the situation. I love the intertubes! ;-)

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16 thoughts on “My Google Reader subscriptions disappeared!

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  4. Mine still works. All browsers and on Mac and PC. For the record I do not use Gears.

    Good idea on exporting. I just did to be safe.

    I usually read you in the Ars Feedjack so I’ve never been here before. Nice blog, dude. :)

  5. Hey that’s a good idea. Auto-emailing an OPML backup of feed directories…. hmmm… nice one! :)

    I will add this to the todo list at podcast.com :)

  6. I had the same issue today, but luckily my feeds came back within roughly ten minutes of the disappearance. I was using Safari 3 on OS X. Craziness!

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  8. Mike says:

    Hey, Josh, my subscriptions are still in Reader. I have loaded Google Gears, but I have denied it from downloading my feeds, maybe this makes the difference…. whatever, I am not going to change anything until you find the source of the problem.

    PS, thanks for the Twitter feeds via SMS on Steve Jobs’ keynote.

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  10. This happened to me too. I just took a deep breath and reloaded. It didn’t work the first time (or the second or the third…) but after a while everything was back to normal… I trust in Google…

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