If you’ve got perhaps a secondary Google account you might want to log in to it some time soon. Google has announced that as part of their efforts to protect users from cybersecurity threats, they will be updating their inactivity policy for Google accounts that have been dormant for two years. This means that if a Google Account hasn’t been used or signed into for the last two years, they may delete the account and its contents which include Google Workspace stuff like Gmail and Calendar as well as YouTube and Google Photos.
According to Google, this is because their internal analysis found than these forgotten or abandoned accounts are more likely to be compromised than accounts that are actually being used. This is down to them often using older or re-used passwords that may have been compromised, while dormant accounts are also 10 times less likely than active accounts to have two-step verification set up and get fewer security checks from the user too. This leaves these accounts vulnerale and when compromised can be used by bad actors for anything from identity theft to being misused for malicious content.
This policy change will only affect personal Google Accounts for now and will not affect accounts for organisations, i.e. schools, businesses and the like. Google is rolling it out now with the policy taking effect from today onwards however, users with inactive accounts will have till December 2023 before they actually start deleting accounts.
If you do have a secondary account that you wouldn’t want get deleted by Google, the easiest way to prevent that is by simply signing into it at least once every two years. This will ensure it’s considered active and so won’t be deleted by Google. On top of that, other ways to ensure your account will be considered active is to do any of the following when signing in or as you’re signed into your Google account:
- 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
- Have an existing subscription set up through your Google Account
Google Photos however will be slightly different in that you will need to sign into Google Photos every two years for it to be considered active if you want to avoid your photos and other content being deleted. Fret not though as Google will send multiple notifications to you before they actually delete anything. In any case, it’s best that you create a backup plan for your account as a precautionary measure. This includes setting up a recovery email and to download and export out your data via Google’s Takeout feature when needed.