CALIFORNIA – If you have not used one of your Google accounts for a long time, you might want to this week. Inactive accounts will start vanishing on Dec 1.
Google announced in May that it would start deleting accounts that had been idle for two years and said that the policy would begin in December. That means anything stored in Gmail or other Google products like YouTube, Photos, Docs, Drive, Meet and Calendar could be deleted.
Accounts are considered active if a user signs in and performs any one of a number of actions, including reading or sending an e-mail, watching a YouTube video or using Google’s search. The user must be logged in to the account for the action to count.
The company said when it announced the policy that it was for security reasons: accounts that have not been used for a long time are more likely to be compromised. It also said idle accounts were 10 times less likely to have two-factor verification, which checks a user’s identity.
The policy applies only to personal accounts, not those managed by a business or school.
Google said certain accounts would be exempt from deletion, even if they were inactive for two years, including those that contained a gift card with a monetary balance or had an active paid subscription.
Although the company said it could begin purging accounts on Dec 1, it may not eliminate all of them immediately. Google said in May it planned to start with accounts that had never been used.
If a Google account is deleted, all of its content and data may disappear. Before beginning deletion, Google said it would warn users in multiple e-mails to the inactive Google account and to another e-mail, if one has been saved to a user’s account.
An inactive account can be made active by signing into a Google service, such as Gmail or YouTube.
Users should also specifically sign in to Google Photos, because the company’s policy states: “If you’re inactive in Google Photos for two years or more, all of your content may be deleted.” NYTIMES