How to Prevent Google From Deleting Your Inactive Account

Google declared new plans in May to eliminate accounts that have been inactive for two years, as well as accounts that were created and never used, or used only briefly. If you have an old Gmail account or a Google Photos account with unused content, it’s time to start searching for those login credentials. Failure to sign in within the past two years could lead to the deletion of your account and all its contents in December.

This change affects various Google services including Google Calendar, Drive, Docs, Gmail, Meet, and Photos. However, accounts with active subscriptions and YouTube videos are exceptions to the new deletion policy. It’s important to note that this change is applicable to personal Google accounts, not accounts linked to companies or classrooms.

Concerned about your personal Google account being deleted? Here are steps to ensure your account remains active, along with some quick tips in case you forget your password.

How to Prevent Deletion of Your Account

Preventing Google from deleting your account is simple – just log in. According to a blog post by Ruth Kricheli, vice president of product management at Google, your account will not be deleted if you have signed in recently. There’s no requirement to log out and back in for accounts you’re currently using. Google considers any activity on the account, such as performing a search with Google, reading an email in Gmail, or accessing a document with Google Drive, as valid. The aim is to enhance overall security by removing abandoned accounts, which are less likely to have strong passwords or two-factor authentication set up, as per Kricheli.

Forgot Your Password?

If you forgot your password, you can initiate the account recovery process using your username or phone number here. Alternatively, you can begin the recovery process for Gmail here.

If you still encounter issues accessing your inactive account, you can refer to this article for advice from Google’s account safety team and potential remedies. Before deletion, Google will send messages to the account’s main email and the recovery address. If you are managing someone else’s account who can’t access it, or it belongs to someone who has passed away and you want it preserved, Google suggests using Google Takeout to download the data for safekeeping or setting up the Inactive Account Manager to provide access.

The first wave of deletions will target accounts that were registered but remained unused. While the exact commencement date of the second wave of inactive account deletions remains unclear, it’s advisable to log in as soon as possible.

After the new policy is enforced, if you want to keep old Google accounts that you use sparingly, consider setting a reminder on your calendar to log in periodically. Another option is to store the data on a physical drive.

Update November 15, 2023: This article has been updated with additional reporting.

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