Do you have an old Gmail account you have not accessed in more than 2 years? Now is your chance to login to keep your account active so it does not end up getting deleted. Google has announced that it is changing its policy on inactive accounts. It may delete Gmail, YouTube and Google photos accounts that have not been used for more than 2 years starting in December 2023.
In a blog post written by Ruth Kricheli, VP of Product Management at Google she states the following:
“Starting later this year, if a Google Account has not been used or signed into for at least 2 years we may delete the account and its contents – including content within Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet Calendar), YouTube and Google Photos.”
She goes on to explain these mainly apply to personal accounts and not implemented for business ones. Such deletions will begin in December 2023 which is roughly 6 months from now, which is enough time for users to login if they want to keep their account.
Why is Google carrying out this account purge?
The reason for carrying out such a purge is Google is adopting security measures. Such inactive accounts most likely do not have MFA, or multi factor authentication, configured. Such a tool was rolled out over a decade ago and makes it harder for hackers to compromise an account.
In her blog post dated 16th May 2023, kricheli explains:
“Our internal analysis shows that abandoned accounts are at least 10 times less likely than active accounts to have 2 step verification set up. Meaning, these accounts are often vulnerable and once an account is compromised, it can be used for anything from identity theft, to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content like spam”
Google will start this purge by deleting those accounts which were created but never used and then move to other accounts.
Multiple warnings will be sent that an account will be deleted, but this is something that will not be seen by any person who has abandoned the account. Warning emails will also be sent to the recovery email address that one provides during the signup process.
If you want to keep your emails and google doc’s now would be a great time to download a local copy of the data so you can have your own backup of the data from the account. In case something goes wrong on the cloud having a local copy can be invaluable. Given that everyone is fallible including Google, there are stories out there of people losing all their data they had on the cloud, kricheli explains that
“You can download and export your data to other platforms through our Takeout feature which has been around for over a decade”
According to the blog 9to5Google it is reported that Google will not allow others to claim any abandoned and deleted account names. This is important as it means that they will not be able to be scooped up by any one else.