The countdown clock to the big inactive Google account cleanup is ticking. Act fast to save your old Gmail and Photos content. Here’s what you need to know and do.
A few days until the December 1st deadline, when Google will start enforcing one updated inactive account policyusers are understandably concerned about what will happen to their content, such as Gmail messages, photos and documents.
The good news is that for the vast majority of Gmail and Photos users, their accounts will remain safe from future content deletions. That’s because most of the 1.8 billion Gmail users and 2 billion Google Photos users have active accounts.
According to the terms of Google’s policy, they have access to their Google accounts for the past two years. While no statistics are available to reveal how many inactive Google accounts there are, if the number is just 1%, that would mean 18 million Gmail users and 20 million Google Photos users are being targeted. That’s a lot of messages and photos about to go into the big dustbin in the sky.
Why does Google delete Gmail content and Photos?
The official reason is to improve security. As Ruth Kricheli, vice president of product management at Google, said in a Update May 2023, “If an account has not been used for a long time, it is more likely to be hacked.” This might sound like an odd thing, but it makes sense, since older accounts are less likely to perform things like two-factor authentication. Google itself says it has internal data that suggests these inactive accounts are, in fact, “10 times less likely than active accounts” to use 2FA. I would advise you to fill it out Google Account security check when you sign in to an inactive account to ensure it is properly protected. A compromised Google account is similar to the keys to the online kingdom for a threat actor, although the value of an abandoned account could be argued to be much less than an active one. I suspect there are additional reasons behind the change to the inactive account policy, primarily the cost of storing all this seemingly unwanted data.
How to prevent Google from deleting your Gmail content and photos
So, what should you do to ensure that your precious memories are saved from this purge? First, if your Google Account is associated with an educational institution or business, it is not covered by the inactive account policy and your content and data are safe. If your account includes YouTube content, then it is also safe. Everything else, however, falls within the scope, provided there has been no account access in the previous two years.
As I mentioned earlier this month, account access covers a lot of what will mark one as active. “If you’ve read or sent an email using Gmail, saved something to Google Drive, downloaded an app from the Google Play Store, added a photo to Google Photos, or even performed a Google search while signed in to your Google Account , your valuable content is safe.” When it comes to Google Photos, you need to make sure you’ve signed in to it especially in the last couple of years.
Don’t delay, act now
You can’t afford to sit back and assume your content is safe just because you haven’t received one of the account deletion notification emails Google sent out this year. We all know how easy it is to lose an email, even an important one like this one from Google. Instead, you should be proactive and sign in to all the Google accounts and services you use. This way, you can be sure that your content will not be deleted. It’s important to note that this cleanup policy doesn’t just apply to Gmail and Photos. Instead, it’s an account-based thing that will also capture Google Drive, Docs, and Calendar data.