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Google set to delete inactive accounts across Gmail, Drive, YouTube, others



Google has said it will soon delete all inactive accounts across its platforms, which include Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar, YouTube, and Google Photos. The company said it will begin to delete the accounts starting from December 2023.  

According to the company, the accounts to be considered inactive are those that have not been signed into in the last 2 years.  Announcing this via a blog post, Google’s VP of Product Management, Ruth Kricheli, said the action became necessary to protect other accounts on the platforms as inactive accounts are easily compromised.   

She added that while Google has invested in technology and tools to protect its users from security threats, like spam, phishing scams, and account hijacking if an account has not been used for an extended period of time, it is more likely to be compromised. Kricheli said this is because forgotten or unattended accounts often rely on old or re-used passwords that may have been compromised, or that have not had two-factor authentication set up. 

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Important policy update 

Noting that compromised accounts can be used for anything from identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam, Kricheli said: 

  • “To reduce this risk, we are updating our inactivity policy for Google Accounts to 2 years across our products. 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. 
  • “The policy only applies to personal Google Accounts and will not affect accounts for organizations like schools or businesses. This update aligns our policy with industry standards around retention and account deletion and also limits the amount of time Google retains your unused personal information. 
  • “While the policy takes effect today, it will not immediately impact users with inactive accounts — the earliest we will begin deleting accounts is December 2023. We will take a phased approach, starting with accounts that were created and never used again.” 

She added that before deleting an account, Google will send multiple notifications over the months leading up to deletion, to both the account email address and the recovery email (if one has been provided). 

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 How to keep your account active 

According to Google, the simplest way to keep a Google Account active is to sign in at least once every 2 years. If you have signed into your Google Account or any of our services recently, your account is considered active and will not be deleted. Google highlighted the expected activities to include: 

  • 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 into a third-party app or service. 

If you have an existing subscription set up through your Google Account, for example to Google One, a news publication, or an app, Google said it also considers this account activity and your account will not be impacted. 

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