In just a few weeks — on Dec. 1, to be precise — Google has said it will start deleting inactive Google accounts and their contents, including Gmail messages, Photos images, Calendar appointments, Contacts records, YouTube videos and Drive documents.
That inactive Google account may be a Gmail box you set up for a newsletter you subscribe to or an online forum you read or a shopping site you buy from — somewhere you’d like to not use your primary email to remain anonymous or avoid spammy messages.
If you’ve got old Google accounts you’d like to hold on to, here’s how to keep Google from deleting them starting in December. For more, check out how to log in to Google with a passkey and discover 10 Gmail tips and tools to use daily.
Why is Google deleting inactive accounts?
If an account hasn’t been used for awhile, Google said, it’s more likely to be compromised: “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,” Google said.
To reduce this risk, Google said, starting in December, if an account hasn’t been used or signed into for at least two years, it may delete the account and its contents. That means if you’ve not logged into an account since 2021, Google may get rid of it.
If you’re worried about someone grabbing your old, deleted account, Google said if it deletes an inactive account, the Gmail address for the deleted account cannot be used again when creating a new Google account.
How to keep your Google accounts
It’s not difficult to preserve your older Google accounts. You need to sign in at least once every two years, so if you can’t remember if you’ve done that, now’s the time.
Reading or sending an email, using Google Drive, watching a YouTube video, downloading an app on the Google Play Store, using Google search or using Google to sign in to a third-party app or service all count as an activity that will keep your account active. And if you have a subscription set up through your Google account, to Google One, a news publication or to an app, that’s also considered activity.
Furthermore, this account reaping applies just to personal Google accounts, and not business or school accounts.
When will Google start deleting accounts?
Soon. Starting Dec. 1, Google will start deleting accounts. While that’s just a few weeks away, Google said it will send reminder emails to both the primary and recovery emails at least eight months before it takes action alerting you about the possible deletion.
What if you forget your Google account username or password?
If you know you have an old Google account but can’t remember its details, you may be able to recover it, depending on what you can’t remember. I recovered two old accounts this way.
If you forgot your password, for example, you may be able to recover it using this Google password recovery tool. You’ll need to answer questions to confirm it’s your account.
If you forgot your email address, you may be able to recover it using this Google account recovery tool. You’ll need a phone number or the recovery email address for the account. If you run into trouble, Google has advice on what to do.