Do you have a Google account you haven’t checked for awhile but still want to keep? You’d better log in soon before it gets purged. Starting December 1st, 2023 (Friday), Google will begin deleting accounts that have been inactive for at least two years. The company says it’s doing so for privacy reasons and no doubt to free up quite a bit of space on its servers.
“If an account hasn’t been used for an extended period of time, it is more likely to be compromised,” Google noted in May 2023. “This is because forgotten or unattended accounts often rely on old or re-used passwords that may have been compromised, haven’t had two factor authentication set up, and receive fewer security checks by the user.” It added that abandoned accounts are “at least 10 times less likely than active accounts to have 2-step-verification setup.”
Google will warn users before deletion via emails sent to the inactive account and another email, provided one has been set up. The policy only applies to personal and not business or education accounts, Google said. Some accounts will be exempt from deletion, including those with YouTube videos uploaded, an active paid subscription or holding gift cards. Deletion will start with accounts that have never been used, it said in May.
To stop deletion, you’ll need to sign into the inactive account and access some of the services (read or send an email, use Google Drive, watch a YouTube video, etc.). If you have anything saved in Google Photos, you’ll want to access that content specifically, as Google has a separate policy for that service. “If you’re inactive in Google Photos for two years or more, all of your content may be deleted,” it states.
Google isn’t alone with this policy, as since 2019, Microsoft has deleted Outlook (or related Hotmail) accounts that have been inactive for two years. In any case, it’s always a good idea to backup your Google accounts using the company’s Takeout feature and have a backup email for any important accounts.