Google will commence the deletion of inactive accounts this week: Google accounts that have been dormant for years and have not been checked for an extended period will disappear this week.
On Friday, Google decided to delete accounts that are inactive for more than two years, granting the company the authority to remove both the Google account and its associated data and activity. This process is set to be initiated on December 1st.
Since August, Google has been sending multiple warning messages to users with dormant Google accounts, along with alerts to the main impacted account’s email address and backup emails linked to that account. In May, Google declared a gradual implementation of the account removal process, starting with accounts created by users but never revisited.
In August 2023, Google updated its policy, emphasizing the protection of users’ private information and the prevention of unauthorized activities in user Google accounts, even if they are no longer using Google services.
During the account deletion process, everything under Google Workspace (Docs, Gmail, Drive, Meet, Calendar) will be deleted. It implies that any content stored within the Google suite of an inactive user is susceptible to deletion.
In August, the company outlined exceptions to the deletion initiative, stating that personal accounts would be deleted, while accounts with content for schools, organizations, or workplaces would not be eliminated. Accounts with active YouTube channels, remaining gift card balances, accounts used for digital purchases, and those associated with published apps on platforms like the Google Play store will be excluded from the deletion process.
In 2020, Google stated that the content of users’ accounts would be erased from Google services they had discontinued using, while the accounts themselves would remain untouched. However, the current decision on account deletion represents a more comprehensive approach.
According to Oren Koren, CPO, and co-founder of the cybersecurity firm Veriti, old accounts are often perceived as low risk, creating opportunities for malicious hackers. Deleting old accounts compels hackers to create new Google accounts, a process now requiring phone number verification. Moreover, the removal of these accounts eliminates older data that could have been compromised in a previous data breach.
Users have only a few hours to preserve their old accounts or the data within them. To save your account, log in or sign in to your Google account, especially if it has been inactive for more than two years. Alternatively, engage in activities such as watching videos, reading emails, using the Google search engine, and downloading apps via the Google Play store to signal account activity to Google that could prevent it from being deleted.
It remains unclear whether users who have deleted their accounts themselves will have the option of recovery, especially if the account was deleted recently. Additionally, it is still uncertain what will happen to email accounts that have been deleted in the past, as Google does not allow the recycling of deleted email accounts. It is unclear whether this policy will also apply to deleted inactive accounts.