Your Google Accounts, Including YouTube, Could Be Purged Unless You Do This

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Beginning in December of this year, Google will start deleting accounts that have been inactive for two years, all in the name of privacy and data protection. Here are the details and some easy steps to keep your account(s) from being purged.

While Google services integrates data security measures against spam, hijacking, etc, it believes that dormant accounts are more likely to rely on "old or re-used passwords that may have been compromised, haven't had two factor authentication set up, and receive fewer security checks by the user," according to Ruth Kricheli, VP of Product Management. She adds that, "abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step-verification set up. Meaning, these accounts are often vulnerable, and once an account is compromised, it can be used for anything from identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam."

The plan therefore is that for every account left abandoned for two years, the company will send a reminder email requesting the user to log in within 60 days, after which the account will be deactivated. After deactivation, users will still have another 60 days to sign in before Google purges the account completely. And yes, that means everything in Gmail, Docs, YouTube, Google Photos, and so on.

According to Kricheli's note, even though the policy is going live now, deletion of accounts will begin December 2023. (Note that Google work or school accounts connected to the deleted personal accounts won't be affected.)

In case you're wondering, keeping any Google account active (including barely used ones) to avoid the upcoming purge is incredibly easy. Google says that things like simply reading or sending an email, using Google search, downloading an app on the Play Store, signing into a third-party service with Google sign-in, or even having an active Google One subscription counts as account activity.

Of course, there might be situations where you might not be able to access or log into your Google account within the grace period. This is where Google's Inactive Account Manager tool comes in. It allows users to dictate what happens to their account and data when the account is inactive for up to 18 months. You can also assign trustees to manage your data or have Google automatically erase the account (or both) in case you're incapacitated from accessing your account for whatever reason.