Google will delete inactive accounts starting December 2023

Martin Brinkmann
May 16, 2023

Google customers who have not used their accounts for 2 years may have their accounts deleted automatically by the company from December 2023 onward.

Google announced a change to the company's inactive account policy today on the company's The Keyword blog. Ruth Kricheli, VP, Product Management at Google announced the change on the site.

Google accounts who are considered inactive are often less secure than those of active accounts. These inactive accounts may use older, weaker passwords and are not protected with multi-factor authentication protections.

Accounts that are not protected with two-factor authentication carry up to ten times the risk of abuse, according to Google.

Google plans to identify inactive user accounts starting this year. The company plans to inform the account owners about the idle status of their accounts, provided that these have not been used for at least 2 years.

The change affects personal accounts only; business and school accounts are not affected by the new rules according to Google.

Google plans to begin with accounts that have never been used and expand the selection of accounts from there. Account owners will be notified multiple teams "over the months leading up to the deletion" according to Google. The company plans to send notifications to account email addresses and also to recovery addresses, if provided.

Deletion of a Google account will remove the entire account, including all content associated with it, such as videos on YouTube, Google Photo content, Gmail emails, files on Google Drive, and anything else that has been uploaded, created or shared while the account was active.

How Google users may keep their account active

Google customers have several options when it comes to keeping their account status active. Using a Google product while signed-in to the account is usually enough to keep it active. Google lists the following activities specifically:

  • Reading or sending an email
  • Using Google Drive
  • Watching a YouTube video
  • Downloading an app on the Google Play Store
  • Using Google Search
  • Using Sign in with Google to sign in to a third-party app or service

Customers who have an existing subscription set up, for instance for YouTube Premium or Google One, won't have their accounts considered inactive, even if the accounts are not used.

Google highlights that customers do need to sign-in to Google Photos every 2 years at least for their accounts not to be considered inactive. Content, such as photos, might otherwise be deleted, according to Google. Customers will be notified by Google multiple times if their photo storage is at the risk of being set to inactive by the company.

Google suggests that customers make use of the takeout feature to download date of importance to their devices for backup purposes.

Closing Words

Google users who want to keep their accounts should sign-in to their account frequently recommends Google. Any of the other listed tasks, including using a third-party app such as Thunderbird to retrieve Gmail emails is sufficient to keep the active status.

The deletion of old Google accounts could free up usernames for Gmail and other Google services.

Now You: do you use a Google account (regularly)?

Google will delete inactive accounts starting December 2023
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Google will delete inactive accounts starting December 2023
Google plans to start deleting inactive Google accounts starting December 2023. Find out what you can do to keep your Google account active.
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  1. TelV said on May 18, 2023 at 9:50 pm

    I’m more or less permanently logged into Google on my Android phone purely because it such a hassle to have to logout / login again every day. However, my phone is located on a different network to my laptop.

    On the few occasions when I log into youtube on my laptop, but don’t logout again afterwards (the cookie gets deleted automatically when I exit the browser) the warning messages start arriving in the form of SMS to the phone and email on my laptop to the effect that ‘somebody just logged into my account on youtube’ when in fact that somebody was yours truly. These messages tell me to do an activity check on the youtube site which I don’t bother with.

    I suppose they pick up the difference in IP addresses, but will my login on Android count as an active user, of will I be forced to login occasionally on youtube as well I wonder. Food for thought.

  2. Sebas said on May 18, 2023 at 10:49 am

    I lean off more and more from services like Drive and Google photos. It is better to upload files to my phone directly with a USB cable and vice versa. Sending and receiving occasionally a mail with only the title Test is no problem for me.

    I know someone who uses Google Chrome, signed in. The amount of pure rubbish adverts and tracking is one big insult.

  3. basingstoke said on May 17, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Pathetic, not “big company” behaviour.

  4. Herman Cost said on May 17, 2023 at 3:06 am

    You might dislike Google for many good reasons or even think they are a dangerous entity that needs concerted government actions to protect users from their search monopoly (although perhaps AI will solve that in a preferable free market manner), censorship and privacy practices (count me in). However, deleting accounts that have not performed one search or sent or read an email in the last two years is perfectly reasonable. What would be unreasonable is expecting them to maintain totally inactive accounts indefinitely.

    1. Cor Invictus said on May 17, 2023 at 8:04 am

      @Herman Cost

      That would be reasonable if we’re talking about reasonable entity, which Google is not.
      Don’t forget, inactive accounts don’t bring data to the table. Gluttony is ever expanding black hole.

  5. Anonymous said on May 16, 2023 at 11:11 pm

    All of my other accounts are simply utilized to sign up for things so that my primary account does not get spammed.

  6. ECJ said on May 16, 2023 at 10:25 pm

    “…The deletion of old Google accounts could free up usernames for Gmail”

    Erm, that’s really not a good idea.

    1. John G. said on May 16, 2023 at 10:30 pm

      +1, not a good idea at all, however Google has ideas like .zip dominions, what did you expected?

  7. Andy Prough said on May 16, 2023 at 10:24 pm

    Can Google just go ahead and delete itself?

    If they would just stop selling search ads to crime gangs there would be a lot less malware being spread.

    1. Frankel said on May 17, 2023 at 6:40 pm

      If signing in 1x time every 2 years is too distressing for you, then consider paying for your own storage and servers.

      Where is this rampant freeloading mentality coming from?

      1. Andy Prough said on May 17, 2023 at 8:34 pm

        I do not sign into Google anything, I don’t use Google anything. I’m not freeloading off of anyone.

      2. Frankel said on May 18, 2023 at 1:23 pm

        Then Google doesn’t affect you at all. Block it in your hosts and use alternatives. Being angry about Google just tells me you feel compelled to use it.

      3. Andy Prough said on May 19, 2023 at 2:36 am

        Not sure what you are talking about, I don’t use Google anything, there’s nothing to block. They are actively spreading malware through their search engine by selling top level ad space to crime gangs – is that something that you support for some reason?

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