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Google is scheduled to delete troves of inactive Gmail accounts as a cybersecurity initiative that goes into effect on Dec. 1.
Any account that has not been touched for two years could be eradicated, including a user’s Google Workspace apps like Drive, Docs and Photos.
The reason: older accounts can be susceptible to hacks “because forgotten or unattended accounts often 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,” Product Management Vice President Ruth Kricheli wrote in a May blog post for the online titan, adding that the company has “invested in technology and tools to protect our users from security threats, like spam, phishing scams and account hijacking,”
The updated policy impacts only personal accounts and will provide immunity for school or business ones, according to Kricheli, who announced the move in May.
Numerous notifications have been sent out to dormant accounts and their subsequent recovery emails since that time. The first ones to be targeted are those “that were created and never used again.”
For users concerned that they could face deletion, Kricheli advises that “the simplest way to keep a Google Account active is to sign in at least once every two years.”
“If you have signed into your Google Account or any of our services recently, your account is considered active and will not be deleted.”
Actions including reading or sending emails, using Google Drive, watching a YouTube video, downloading apps on the Google Play Store, using Google to sign in on a third-party service or simply just using Google Search all count as activity, according to Kricheli.
Users must specifically sign into Google Photos separately to preserve their images.
“If you have an existing subscription set up through your Google Account, for example to Google One, a news publication or an app, we also consider this account activity and your account will not be impacted,” the VP added.
“Additionally, we do not have plans to delete accounts with YouTube videos at this time.”