Google has announced a significant policy change that will affect users who remain inactive for an extended period. The tech giant will start deleting Google accounts and the associated data — Gmail, Drive, and Photos files — of users who have not logged in for two years. This new policy, set to go into effect later this year, is Google’s latest move to ensure the safety and integrity of its services.
According to Google, the primary reason for this move is security. The company’s internal analysis suggests that inactive accounts are 10 times less likely to have two-step verification set up, making them more vulnerable to security breaches. Once compromised, these accounts can become conduits for spam and identity theft. Additionally, this policy change also serves as a cost-saving measure for Google, as deleting old accounts and freeing up storage space can reduce operational expenses.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Google users. The company has clarified that this policy applies only to individual accounts. Business accounts, especially those paying a monthly fee, will not be affected as long as the payments continue. Furthermore, YouTube content, despite initial confusion, will not be deleted as part of this policy change. Google has affirmed that public YouTube videos will remain intact regardless of account activity.
Users can maintain their Google account activity and avoid deletion by taking a few simple actions at least once every two years:
- Reading or sending an email
- Using Google Drive
- Watching a YouTube video
- Downloading an app on the Google Play Store
- Using Google Search (while signed into the account)
- Signing in to a third-party app or service using Google
- Checking in with an Android device
- Paying for a Google One storage subscription.
Moreover, Google Photos has a separate “activity” metric. This metric requires users to either visit the Google Photos app or website or upload a photo every two years to prevent the deletion of their photos.
This policy change does not mean that users who haven’t logged in for two years will immediately lose their accounts. Google has planned a phased implementation of this policy, officially termed as “The Great Google Account Purge,” scheduled for December 2023. Google promises to send multiple notifications in the months leading up to the deletion, both to the account’s primary and recovery email addresses if provided, to ensure that users are not caught off guard by this change.