Google customers who have not used their accounts for 2 years may have their accounts deleted automatically by the company from December 2023 onward.
Google announced a change to the company’s inactive account policy today on the company’s The Keyword blog. Ruth Kricheli, VP, Product Management at Google announced the change on the site.
Google accounts who are considered inactive are often less secure than those of active accounts. These inactive accounts may use older, weaker passwords and are not protected with multi-factor authentication protections.
Accounts that are not protected with two-factor authentication carry up to ten times the risk of abuse, according to Google.
Google plans to identify inactive user accounts starting this year. The company plans to inform the account owners about the idle status of their accounts, provided that these have not been used for at least 2 years.
The change affects personal accounts only; business and school accounts are not affected by the new rules according to Google.
Google plans to begin with accounts that have never been used and expand the selection of accounts from there. Account owners will be notified multiple teams “over the months leading up to the deletion” according to Google. The company plans to send notifications to account email addresses and also to recovery addresses, if provided.
Deletion of a Google account will remove the entire account, including all content associated with it, such as videos on YouTube, Google Photo content, Gmail emails, files on Google Drive, and anything else that has been uploaded, created or shared while the account was active.
How Google users may keep their account active
Google customers have several options when it comes to keeping their account status active. Using a Google product while signed-in to the account is usually enough to keep it active. Google lists the following activities specifically:
- Reading or sending an email
- Using Google Drive
- Watching a YouTube video
- Downloading an app on the Google Play Store
- Using Google Search
- Using Sign in with Google to sign in to a third-party app or service
Customers who have an existing subscription set up, for instance for YouTube Premium or Google One, won’t have their accounts considered inactive, even if the accounts are not used.
Google highlights that customers do need to sign-in to Google Photos every 2 years at least for their accounts not to be considered inactive. Content, such as photos, might otherwise be deleted, according to Google. Customers will be notified by Google multiple times if their photo storage is at risk of being set to inactive by the company.
Google suggests that customers make use of the takeout feature to download data of importance to their devices for backup purposes.
Google users who want to keep their accounts should sign-in to their account frequently recommends Google. Any of the other listed tasks, including using a third-party app such as Thunderbird to retrieve Gmail emails is sufficient to keep the active status.
The deletion of old Google accounts could free up usernames for Gmail and other Google services