Old, unused Gmail accounts are getting the boot

Gmail logo on desktop
(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is updating its inactive account policy for Google Account users.
  • The company will delete any Google Account that has been inactive for two years.
  • The deletion will affect any data associated with the account, including Gmail, Google Photos, and YouTube.
  • The new policy will go into effect in December.

A new policy for Google Accounts could affect some users in the name of security. The company announced that later this year, it will delete Google accounts that have been inactive for at least two years.

According to Google, this is being done to protect users from the vulnerabilities that these accounts may be exposed to if they're ever compromised, including identity theft.

"This is 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," says Ruth Kricheli, VP of Product Management. "Our internal analysis shows abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step-verification set up."

The policy change goes into effect today, but Google won't actually begin deleting accounts until December. Additionally, the policy only affects personal accounts, not those organizations manage. Aaccounts with YouTube videos also won't be deleted.

Google says it will notify affected users in the months prior to account deletion, both in the account email and the recovery email, to help ensure that the owner is properly informed. When the account deletion occurs, it will wipe all associated data, including content in Gmail, Google Photos, and more.

Signing back into an inactive account to make it active again

(Image credit: Google)

That said, Google notes that it's pretty easy to keep an account active, even if you may not actively use the associated email. However, users must note that the separate account activity policy for Google Photos also remains, where users must sign into the service to keep it active or face deletion.

Google provides a list of all the ways that an account may be kept active:

  • 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

Lastly, Google highlights ways users can manage their accounts should they become inactive or decide they no longer want to keep them, including tools like Google Takeout.

Those getting the boot first are "accounts that were created and never used again."

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.