Google starts warning users about potential inactive account deletions

Here's what you need to know to keep your accounts from disappearing.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
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Google is following up on a previous warning about inactive accounts by notifying people that any such accounts could be deleted starting this December. 

In an email sent to users of Gmail and other Google services over the weekend, the company said that its new policy regarding inactive accounts has begun rolling out. This change means that any Google account that hasn't been used or signed into within two years will be eligible for deletion as of December 1, 2023.

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The new emails follow a May 16 blog post in which the search giant revealed its new inactive account policy. The guidelines signal possible deletion for any inactive account and its content across Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar), YouTube, and Google Photos.

But before Google users start panicking, there are some conditions in place before your account is potentially given the heave-ho. You're only impacted if you haven't used or signed into your account for two years. Even if your account is deemed inactive, Google will send several reminder emails to your existing account and to any recovery accounts at least eight months before any action is taken.

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To protect an inactive account from deletion, you can either sign into it or use a specific service to complete a task. This means using the account to read or send an email in Gmail, access Google Drive, watch a YouTube video, share a photo from Google Photos, download an app from Google Play, run a Google search, or sign in with Google to a third-party app or service.

Some exceptions to the rule include a Google Account with YouTube channels, videos, or comments; an account with a gift card balance; and an account with a published application such as one on the Google Play store.

Also, the new and revised policy applies only to personal Google accounts. Those used by organizations such as businesses and schools won't be affected. The policy itself is designed to meet industry standards around data retention and to limit the amount of time that Google can keep your unused personal information.

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To explain its policy changes, Google pointed to security issues as a major factor. Though the company said that it tries to protect customer information from spam, phishing scams, and account hijacking, a dormant account is more likely to be compromised.

Finally, Google noted that it does offer tools to help you manage your account and back up your data. You can download and export data from an account using Google Takeout and control the future of data for an inactive account via the Inactive Account Manager.

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