Commencing December 1, Google will initiate the deletion process for certain individual Google Accounts, although the term “purging” might be more appropriate. This purging process will encompass almost every variety of content imaginable, including Gmail messages, Google Photos libraries, Google Calendar appointments, and Google Docs collections.
Here’s everything you should be aware of before the December deadline.
The countdown to deletion of Google content is underway
If the news of Google’s plan to delete inactive accounts comes as a surprise, the blame cannot be solely attributed to Google. In July, Google sent out an email alerting users about the upcoming account deletions starting in December. These emails stated that inactive accounts would receive “several reminder emails” prior to any action being taken. While one might see a loophole in this logic, given that emails from inactive accounts won’t be read, Google has addressed this by sending notifications to recovery email addresses as well. The initial accounts targeted in December will be those that were created but never utilized again.
Is your Gmail and photos at risk?
With over 1.8 billion Gmail users, and a rise to 2 billion for Google Photos users, there may be uncertainty if your account is among the unspecified number affected. The comforting news is that, statistically speaking, it’s unlikely to be affected. This is due to Google’s assertion that this purging, undertaken for security purposes, only applies to inactive personal accounts, specifically those that have not been signed into for at least two years. If you have utilized Gmail for reading or sending emails, stored data in Google Drive, downloaded apps from the Google Play Store, added photos to Google Photos, or even logged into your Google Account while searching on Google, your valuable content is secure. Google business accounts will not be impacted.
Inactive accounts awaiting resolution
Ruth Critchley, vice president of product management at Google, stated in May the rationale behind the update to the inactive account policy. “If an account has been inactive for an extended period, it is more susceptible to compromise,” Critchley explained. This is because accounts that remain dormant for prolonged periods may not have undergone regular security checks, likely lack activated two-factor authentication, and may use insecure passwords. “Our internal analysis reveals that abandoned accounts are at least 10 times less likely to have 2-Step Verification enabled compared to active accounts,” Critchley elaborated. Due to the statistical likelihood that these inactive accounts are more vulnerable, the risk of compromise escalates. To malicious actors, a compromised Google account is akin to hitting the jackpot, providing access to email messages and documents that can be utilized to reset account passwords, steal identities, and serve as a springboard for malicious activities.
Actions to safeguard your Gmail and Google Photos content from deletion
As reported in July, to protect your Gmail account, Google Photos content, and associated items, most users need not take any action. If you possess only one Google Account and have signed into it within the last two years in any capacity, your content is safe. However, if you maintain multiple accounts, it’s advisable to verify and sign into them now. It’s crucial to ensure that you sign in at least once every 24 months to safeguard your account and its contents from deletion. If you cannot recall your account details, don’t despair. Utilize the Google account recovery process, which necessitates a recovery email or phone number. Employ known email addresses and phone numbers, and the likelihood of success is high. You will receive a verification code via email or SMS, and upon attempting to log in with an incorrect password, you will have the opportunity to reset the password using the forgotten password route. Again, a verification code will be sent for confirmation.