Google has recently announced a significant policy update regarding inactive accounts, affecting its services like Gmail and Google Photos. Starting from December 2023, inactive personal Google accounts, not used or signed in for at least two years across all products, will be subject to deletion along with their stored content, including emails, documents, photos, and more.
The update aims to enhance security, as long-unused accounts are more vulnerable to compromise, often relying on outdated or reused passwords without two-factor authentication.
Our internal analysis shows abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step verification set up,” Kricheli explained.
Google will implement the deletion process gradually and notify users well in advance. Initially, the accounts created but never used again will be targeted. Multiple notifications will be sent to the account’s email address and recovery email, if provided, to ensure users are aware of the impending deletion.
To safeguard accounts and content, users must take action to prove their activity. If you have used your Gmail or Google Photos account within the last two years, no further steps are required. However, for multiple accounts that have been dormant for two years or more, the following actions will mark them as active and prevent deletion:
1. Read or send an email with Gmail.
2. Perform a Google search.
3. Use Google Drive.
4. Watch a YouTube video.
5. Download an app from the Google Play Store.
For those who can’t remember the accounts they’ve created, Google offers a recovery method. Input the recovery email or phone number associated with the account, and Google will send a verification code to help identify the accounts linked to that information. Afterward, users can reset their passwords to regain access.
To further strengthen security, Google recommends using a password manager application and enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) for all accounts. Password managers help generate strong and unique passwords for each account, while 2FA adds an extra layer of protection against unauthorized access.
While some may worry about security issues related to password managers, reputable services like 1Password employ advanced encryption methods to ensure data safety. By adopting such measures, users can rest assured that their password vaults are well protected.
Google’s initiative to purge inactive accounts and content emphasizes the importance of maintaining account activity and implementing strong security measures. By taking simple steps to interact with their accounts and utilizing password managers and 2FA, users can safeguard their valuable content and protect themselves from potential security risks.