Google has announced that it will start deleting accounts that have not been used or signed in for at least two years, starting from December 1, 2023. The goal of the change is to make users’ accounts more secure by removing the most vulnerable ones. If you have an old Google account lying around, you should sign in before the end of the week to save it from disappearing, along with all the data associated with it: photos, Gmail, contacts, Drive storage, and so on.
Google’s Inactive Account Deletion Policy
Why is Google Deleting Inactive Accounts?
Google is deleting its inactive accounts to protect users from security threats. The company asserts that inactive accounts are more susceptible to compromise because they are not in active use or monitoring, and users are more likely to employ old or reused passwords. “Even with these protections (security tools offered by Google), if an account hasn’t been used for an extended period, it is more likely to be compromised,” states Google in its blog post.
According to Google’s own analysis, inactive accounts are 10 times less likely to have two-factor authentication, making them easy targets for hackers. Forgotten or neglected accounts sometimes utilize old or reused passwords that may be compromised. Two-factor authentication and user security checks are rare in these accounts. This can lead to identity theft and turn abandoned accounts into malicious tools.
Which Accounts will be Affected?
The new rule is exclusive to personal Google Accounts and has no bearing on accounts linked to institutions like schools or organizations. If an account hasn’t been used for at least two years, Google considers it dormant. The tech behemoth classifies activities things like logging in, perusing or sending emails, utilizing Google Drive, seeing videos on YouTube, exchanging images, installing an app, and browsing the web while logged in. Google will consider your account inactive if you haven’t used it for two years without making any changes. Google products such as Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar, YouTube, and Google Photos are all impacted by this policy even when an account is not actively used.
When Will the Deletions Begin?
Google announced that its new inactive account policy will go into effect on December 1, 2023. “December 1, 2023, is the earliest a Google Account will be deleted due to this policy,” Google states in its Inactive Google Account Policy. However, the actual deletion date may vary depending on the last time the account was used. Notifications and, if necessary, a recovery email will be sent to that account by Google in advance. There are some exceptions to this policy, such as if your account was used to purchase something in the Google Play store or if your account has a gift card with an active balance.
How to Prevent Your Account from Being Deleted?
Keeping Your Account Active
To safeguard your Google Account from deletion, you should make sure that you use it regularly and sign in at least once every two years. You can also check the status of your account and see when it will be considered inactive by visiting the Inactive Account Manager. If you have multiple Google Accounts, you should sign in to each one separately to keep them active. You can also link your accounts to make it easier to switch between them.
Creating a Backup Plan
If you have an account that you don’t use often or don’t want to keep active, you can still prevent it from being deleted by creating a backup plan. You can use the Inactive Account Manager to choose what happens to your account if it becomes inactive. You can either share your account data with someone you trust or delete your account permanently. You can also set a timeout period, which is the amount of time your account can remain inactive before your backup plan is triggered. You can choose a timeout period of 3, 6, 12, or 18 months. Google will notify you and your trusted contacts before your backup plan is executed.
Preserving Your Data
Ways to save your Google data
If you don’t want to keep your Google Account active or create a backup plan, you can still preserve your data by downloading or exporting it. You can use Google Takeout to download a copy of your data from various Google products, such as Gmail, Photos, Drive, Calendar, and more. You can choose which products to include, the file type, and the delivery method. You can also use Google One to manage your storage and backup your data across Google products, such as Contacts, Messages, and Photos. You can choose a storage plan that suits your needs and access your data from any device.
Recommended Backup Options
If you decide to download or export your Google data, you should also consider where to store it and how to access it. You can choose to save your data on your computer, an external hard drive, a cloud service, or a combination of these options. You should also make sure that your backup is secure and encrypted, and that you have a backup of your backup in case something goes wrong. You should also test your backup regularly and update it as needed. Some of the recommended backup options are:
- Computer: You can save your data on your computer’s hard drive or a partition. This option is convenient and fast, but it also has some drawbacks. Your computer may crash, get infected by malware, or be stolen or damaged. You may also run out of space or lose your data if you forget to backup regularly.
- External hard drive: You can save your data on an external hard drive that you can plug into your computer or another device. This option is portable and reliable, but it also has some risks. Your external hard drive may malfunction, get corrupted, or be lost or stolen. You may also need to format your external hard drive to make it compatible with different devices or operating systems.