Google has updated its inactivity policy which will affect users who have not logged into their Google accounts for a long time. Starting December 2023, the search giant will begin deleting accounts that have been inactive for at least two years, as well as accounts that were created and never used.
The company says the move is intended to improve security and reduce the risk of fraud, phishing, hacking, and spam. Google also says it will free up storage space and make its services more efficient.
However, users who want to keep their accounts and data safe do not need to worry. Google will send multiple warning notifications to the email and recovery addresses of the inactive accounts before deleting them. Users can also prevent their accounts from being deleted by simply logging in to any Google service, such as Gmail, YouTube, Drive, or Photos.
Other actions that are considered activities that users can do when they sign in or while signed in to their Google Account might include the following:
- 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
What you need to know
Here are some important things you need to know about Google’s new policy:
- Who is affected? The policy applies only to personal Google accounts, not to accounts associated with organizations, schools, or businesses. If you have a Google account for work, school, or a non-profit organization, you don’t need to worry about it being deleted.
- Which services are affected? The policy affects various Google services, such as Calendar, Drive, Docs, Gmail, Meet, and Photos. However, accounts with YouTube videos are exempt from the policy, as well as accounts with active subscriptions or payments. If you have uploaded videos to YouTube or paid for any Google service, your account will remain active.
- When will the deletion start? The policy does not mean that Google will delete your account after two years of inactivity. Rather, it means that Google will start counting your inactivity from now on. For example, if you last logged in on May 22, 2023, your account will be eligible for deletion on May 22, 2025, unless you log in again before then. Google will send you multiple reminders before deleting your account.
- How does this affect your storage? The policy does not affect your storage quota or limit. Google has a separate policy that will delete data from accounts that exceed their storage limit for two years, starting from June 1, 2021. You can check your storage usage and manage your data here.
- What if you have multiple accounts? If you have multiple Google accounts, you need to log in to each one of them separately to keep them active.
- What if you have trouble accessing your account? If you have trouble accessing your inactive account, you can try to recover it here or here for Gmail.
- What if you want to download your data? If you want to download your data from your inactive account before it is deleted, you can use Google Takeout to export it to another service or device. You can also use Google’s Inactive Account Manager to decide what happens to your account when you stop using it. You can access these tools here.
Google’s new policy may seem drastic, but it is not uncommon for online services to delete inactive accounts. The bottom line is: if you want to keep your Google account and data safe, just log in once in a while. It’s that simple.