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If you’ve got a Google Account but haven’t used it in a while, there are some changes you should know about. Google announced on May 16 that they’re updating their security policies, and that means your inactive Google Account could be deleted later this year.
That includes stuff like your Gmail, Google Drive files, Google Photos, and more. The reason? If an account hasn’t been used for an extended period of time, it is more likely to be compromised by hackers or spammers, Google says.
So how do you know whether your account is active? If you signed into your Google Account in any way over the last two years — to use Google Docs, Photos, etc. — your account is safe from being closed. Moving forward, you’ll need to login at least once every 24 months to keep your account in active status and avoid losing all of your data.
Here’s everything we know about the Google Account news and how to save your data if you’re worried about it:
If you don’t log into your Google Account by December, you could lose everything.
In order to cut down on the number of inactive Google Accounts being hijacked by fraudsters or hackers, Google has implemented a new policy that will delete accounts that haven’t been active in two years.
If you’ve been using any Google services recently, you’re good to go. Activities like checking your email (either via Gmail or through third-party software that accesses your Gmail address), using Google Drive, watching YouTube videos, or even downloading apps from the Play Store count as account activity.
Google won’t start deleting accounts until December 2023 at the earliest (and they’ll start with the accounts that were created and then never used again).
You’ll have to log into Google Photos specifically to keep your photos and videos.
Lots of Shutterfly accounts were deleted due to inactivity recently, which had to be brutal for people whose digital scrapbooks went poof. Looks like the same thing could happen to your Google Photos if you aren’t on it.
Here’s the deal: Google Photos is a separate part of your Google Account. To keep it safe and sound, you’ve got to sign in specifically to Google Photos every two years. That’s what keeps your account active and ensures your precious photos and other stuff won’t vanish into thin air.
Your business- or school-based Google Accounts aren’t included in these new rules.
The new inactive Google Accounts policy doesn’t affect the Google Workspace accounts that you get from your school or place of business.
Google Workspace accounts for businesses, schools, and other organizations have their own retention and deletion policies — the agreements and guidelines are specific to each organization. So, while personal accounts are subject to the new policy, your business or school account is safe and sound.
If you’re using a Google Workspace account from your organization, it’s a good idea to chat with your administrator or IT department to get all the details. They can fill you in on the specific policies, guidelines, and requirements for your account.
You can’t recover a deleted account once it’s gone — so you might consider backing up your Google data.
Unfortunately, once an inactive Google Account and its contents are deleted, it is generally not possible to recover the account or its data. But if you’re worried about losing your account, you can download and export your data using Google’s Takeout feature. To back up your Google data securely, follow these steps:
- Sign in to your Google Account.
- Choose the data you want to back up, like Gmail, Google Drive files, photos, and videos.
- Customize the backup settings if you want, like the file type and size.
- Start the backup process by clicking “Next.”
- Decide how you want to receive the backup, either by email or directly to a cloud storage service.
- Click “Create export” to begin the backup. It might take some time.
- Wait for Google to finish processing the backup and receive an email or link when it’s ready.
- Download the backup files or access them through your chosen cloud storage service.
Google promises to give people lots of notice before deleting Google (or Google Photos) accounts.
Now, they’re not just gonna hit the delete button without warning you. Google plans to send you multiple notifications leading up to deleting inactive accounts. They’ll send them to both your account email address and the recovery email you provided. So you’ll have a heads-up and time to take action if needed.