The end is nigh for many Google accounts. Beginning on December 1, “inactive” accounts that haven’t been logged into within the last two years will begin disappearing as part of a purge announced by the company back in May. This means any unused accounts’ emails, photos, videos, and documents spread across Google products like Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Meet, and Photos could disappear as soon as this weekend.
That said, the move shouldn’t come as a surprise. Since revealing its plans earlier this year, Google says it sent multiple notifications to applicable users, both to any account’s Gmail address, as well as any available associated recovery emails.
The reasoning behind trashing unused accounts is, simply put, security. According to Google, bad actors are as much as 10 times more likely to gain access to abandoned accounts than active accounts utilizing protective measures like 2-step-verification. Once compromised, the hijacked accounts can be then harnessed to send malware, spam, and even aid in identity theft.
Google won’t slash its list of inactive accounts in one fell swoop, however. First up will be any accounts that were never used after being created, followed by a phased approach to tackle the rest “slowly and carefully,” according to the May announcement.
To spare your rarely-if-ever used account from the culling, all users need to do is simply sign in at least once before December 1. That’s enough to reset Google’s activity threshold, and stave off an automatic deletion. Using Gmail, accessing Google Drive, watching YouTube videos while logged in, or even signing into a third-party app using your Google Account all count as activity, as well.
Currently, the purge only concerns personal Google accounts. School, work, and official organizational accounts are not in danger come December 1, as well as those accounts with linked, active subscription plans set up through news outlets or apps. Google also does not currently plan to delete any accounts hosting YouTube videos, either.
If nothing else, the mass deletion campaign can serve as a helpful reminder to log into old accounts, update passwords, establish two-factor authentication protocols, and download backups of any old uploaded content or data. The easiest way is to head over to the Google Takeout page and follow its instructions for exporting data.