If your Google account has been inactive for more than two years, it may soon be deleted 

Starting December 2023, Google will begin deleting inactive personal accounts and the data associated with those accounts. This includes Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Drive. Google cites security concerns as their reason for making this change – but we’re also reading it as a first step in the shift away from free services like email and file storage. This is a trend that we expect to accelerate across the tech space over the next several years – users are going to have to start paying for services like email that have been free in the past.  

Here is what you can do to avoid losing your Google accounts and improve account security along the way: 

Use Your Account 

The simplest solution is to sign into your Google account now. This “resets the clock” and your account will no longer be considered inactive.  

Recover Your Forgotten Account 

Can’t remember your login credentials? Hacked account? Use Google’s account recovery to reset it. Google will prompt you to answer a few questions. Try to answer as many questions as possible and be exact with your answers paying particular attention to avoid typos and use correct capitalization. It also helps to use a familiar device and location that you have used before. Try these Google Tips for Account Recovery.  

Account recovery also works to access the account of someone who has passed away.  

Keep Your Data Local 

Make sure you have your data stored locally, on your computer or a portable hard drive. Don’t trust a third party with all your important images and documents. At the very least, save copies of your data with a second cloud storage provider to ensure your data is backed up and available somewhere else.  

When you use a free third-party service for email and data storage, your data is completely in their hands, out of your control, and subject to the whims of their changing service terms.  

Add a Recovery Email Address 

You can add a secondary email account or the email address of a trusted friend or family member in case you get locked out of your account or somehow lose access. This is done under the Security tab. 

Plan For Your Digital Legacy 

Google allows you to add backup contact information for yourself and up to 10 other people to notify if your account is inactive for a set period of time. You can select either three, six, 12, or 18 months. You can also select the data they will be able to access. Click on Data and Privacy > Make a Plan for Your Digital Legacy to set it up.  

There is also an option to have your account “self destruct” if it has not been used in a set amount of time.  

Back Up Your Data 

You should never keep all your data in one place. If a service goes under or you lose access to an account, you may lose all your important files including photos, emails, documents, and more.  

Use Google Takeout to export your Google data.You can use this service to decide what files you want to save and what format you want to use to save them.  

Use Google Drive to move files. You can share your Google Drive with your other account by selecting transfer ownership. 

Backup Photos 

Google Photos allows you to automatically share photos with one partner only in the case something happens to your account. Go to Settings to add a partner, then select the details you want to share. Set the partner account to autosave to save a second copy of the items you choose to share.  
The Big Picture 

Sooner or later, users are going to have to start paying for services like email that have traditionally been free. In the meantime, these steps will help you maintain access to your Google account and your data. 

    Dedicated to IT security and productivity,      

    – Steve    



    Steve Kennen, president of Proactive IT and cybersecurity expert

    About Steve Kennen

    Steve Kennen is the President of Proactive IT and an expert in information technology infrastructure management, cybersecurity, and cyber risk management practices for businesses. A seasoned entrepreneur and technology veteran with over 25 years of experience, Steve leads the team that keeps our clients secure and their business operations running smoothly.