Think of it like this.
Computers crash all the time, people lose all their data, not just their emails.
Many company based email clients and other email services have very poor uptime.
When you calculate it, its just the 99.9% uptime with the 0.1% of downtime being 0.08% of customers can't access old emails for a short period of time, I could understand this story if they weren't getting their emails back, but they are.
Besides the few minority that sync to the cloud while backing up to Tape/HDD/DVD there isn't a better place for the average person to store their email then Gmail.
The amount of times I used to hear about someone losing all their emails because they went on holiday and never logged into Hotmail......