My Google account: Google to delete inactive accounts - how to keep Gmail, Drive, search, and Docs login

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The move is being taken to protect security, but there are easy steps to take if you want to keep your account

Google has said that it will begin deleting accounts that have not been used for at least two years, an action which is being taken to reduce security concerns.

The revised policy is effective immediately, but according to Google, account deletion will not start until December 2023 at the earliest.

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When an account is deleted, the associated data and content in services like Gmail, Google Drive or Google Photos may also be affected. Here is everything you need to know about it.

Why is Google deleting accounts?

The company said that its decision was based on internal research which revealed that older accounts are much more prone to problems like phishing, hacking and spam because they are less likely to use modern security methods like two-step-verification and more likely to rely on recycled passwords.

Unused accounts can become targets for hackers, as if an account is inactive and the user is not regularly monitoring it, they may not notice any suspicious activities or unauthorised access. Hackers may attempt to exploit the inactive accounts to gain access to other services, launch spam campaigns or impersonate the account owner.

Deleting such accounts helps prevent these types of attacks. By deleting inactive accounts, the company can reduce the risk of unauthorised access and potential data breaches.

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Inactive accounts may also still contain personal or sensitive information that could be targeted by cybercriminals. Deleting unused accounts helps mitigate the risk of data exposure, ensuring that personal information is not accessible to unauthorised individuals.

From a business point of view, maintaining inactive accounts also requires server space and other resources, and deleting unused accounts will allow Google to free up resources and optimise its infrastructure, leading to better performance and cost efficiency.

How can I stop my account being deleted?

Users will be given repeated warning notifications over the months leading up to deletion before their account is removed, to both the account email address and the recovery email - if one has been provided.

The company also intends to phase in the deletion of dormant accounts, with Google saying accounts that users created but never returned to again will be the first to go. Only personal accounts will be affected, leaving businesses and institutions like schools unaffected.

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All you have to do to save your account is sign in to your Google account or any Google service. Just to be sure you've rescued your account from the unrelenting digital scythe, you may want to read an email, view a video or run a quick search to make sure Google know you're really "using" your account.

If you're happy to see your account go, but want to keep he associated data and content in services like Gmail, Google Drive or Google Photos, Google provides options for users to export or retrieve their data before the account is deleted, and users are advised to back up their important files or transfer them to another account.

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