Google has recently announced plans to begin deleting inactive accounts across its wide range of platforms, including Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar, YouTube, and Google Photos, starting in December 2023.
The decision to delete inactive accounts is aimed at increasing the overall security of its user base. Google considers an account inactive if it hasn’t seen activity or access in the past two years.
Such inactivity, according to Google’s standards, qualifies an account for potential deletion. These accounts, as explained by Ruth Kricheli, Google’s VP of Product Management, are more susceptible to being compromised or hijacked.
“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,”Kricheli
The New Policy Update
As a part of their proactive approach to enhance the security of users, Google is updating their inactivity policy across all their products.
“To reduce this risk, we are updating our inactivity policy for Google Accounts to 2 years across our products,” Kricheli said in a blog post. “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.”
The policy, however, is applicable only to personal Google Accounts, excluding those belonging to organizations like schools or businesses.
The primary objective behind this policy update is to align Google’s account retention and deletion practices with industry standards and limit the time Google retains unused personal information.
Although the policy has been implemented, it will not immediately impact users with inactive accounts.
The earliest Google plans to begin deleting accounts is December 2023, and it will be done in a phased manner, starting with accounts that were created and never used again.
In an attempt to avoid sudden surprises, Google will send multiple notifications to both the account email address and the recovery email (if provided) over the months leading up to the deletion.
How to Keep Your Account Active
To prevent account deletion, Google suggests multiple methods for users to maintain account activity. The simplest way is to sign in at least once every 2 years. Activities that are considered to keep an account active 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.
Furthermore, if you have an existing subscription set up through your Google Account, such as Google One, a news publication, or an app, your account is also considered active.
In a nutshell, Google’s move to delete inactive accounts is a proactive approach to enhance the security of its users and align their policies with industry standards.
It prompts users to frequently sign in and update security settings to maintain account activity.