If you’ve got an older Google account you haven’t used in a while, it’d be a good idea to log into it—if you can—and do something as basic as reading or sending an email or watching a YouTube video. If you don’t, the account is at risk of deletion, possibly as soon as December 1st.
Google’s inactive account policy has been public for several months, but that recently announced December 1 start date in a new Help Center blog post (via Techspot) will come up very quickly. If you’ve been kicking the can down the road, don’t kick it much further.
The reasons for closing accounts that have been inactive for more than two years are sound. Older accounts, and especially those with weak passwords are at risk from hijacking, identity theft and phishing scams. They’re also less likely to use additional security measures like two-factor authentication. It’ll save Google an exabyte or two of storage space too.
Should your account be lost, you’ll lose access to everything. That means your Gmail, Drive contents, YouTube and workspace apps. Any valuable cloud stored content will be gone forever. The loss of a Gmail account could have follow-on effects such as the loss of other accounts that use Gmail as a login.
Note that the closure is only set to affect personal accounts. Business accounts won’t be affected. After two years of inactivity, such a business is probably dead anyway, but I’m sure there are legal or taxation reasons for keeping business accounts alive.
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Google will warn users of pending closures. But how effective will that be? Google’s efforts to contact you will only be as good as the information it has on hand. If you don’t use the account, how will you even know if you’ve got an email? If you have a secondary recovery account, then receiving a warning should be less of an issue.
I’d guess that these closures won’t affect all that many people. If you haven’t used an account for two years, will you miss it? Still, given Google’s overlordship of the online world, there will be users that will be absolutely spewing that their account is gone. Don’t be one of them.
As always, it’s recommended that you be aware of your online activities, and take steps to control your information and security. Use 2FA where possible, use strong passwords and don’t rely on the cloud as your sole backup of valuable data.
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