Oops, Google+ Already Ran Out of Disk Space

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Google’s social networking Facebook rival test-launched not quite two weeks ago, and it’s already suffering growing pains. In fact Google+’s storage well apparently ran dry this weekend, prompting the service to spam users with a sudden fusillade of error messages.

On Saturday, Google+ senior vice president of “social” Vic Gundotra admitted the service had briefly been on the fritz.

“Please accept our apologies for the spam we caused this afternoon,” he wrote on his Google+ page. “For about 80 minutes we ran out of disk space on the service that keeps track of notifications. Hence our system continued to try sending notifications. Over, and over again. Yikes.”

(PHOTOS: Life Inside Facebook Headquarters)

Yikes indeed. Gundotra says Google didn’t anticipate the service (which is still in invite-only test mode) hitting “these high thresholds” so soon, but that the company “should have.” Well yeah they should have. How do you run out of disk space not two weeks into your first outing? Or is this actually a super-secret marketing ploy to make Google+ seem more in demand, somehow?

Who knows, but Gundotra was unreservedly apologetic: “Thank you for helping us during this field trial, and once again,” he wrote, adding that the company was “very sorry for the spam.”

But surely not sorry for the growth craze, which may have already netted the service north of 4.5 million users, according to Google+ user and Ancestry.com founder Paul Allen. Allen says he’s been using U.S. Census Bureau data and surnames to come up with his U.S.-centric usage estimate.

Contrast with Facebook’s 750 million members worldwide and Google+ has its work cut out, not to mention its storage needs assuming things take off once the service unbars the doors. Of all the companies you’d expect to have an online storage problem, Google’s not one that comes to mind. This is, after all, the company that lobbed gigabytes of free online email storage space at customers well before the competition did.

MORE: Eric Schmidt: There’s Room for Multiple Social Networks, More Cooperation

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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