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Google to start purging inactive accounts (Update: Not ones with YouTube videos)

Update: Creators are safe. Google won't delete accounts with YouTube videos.

Published onMay 18, 2023

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Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • Google plans to start deleting old, inactive accounts starting this December.
  • The purge will only affect accounts that have been active for two years or longer.
  • Google will send multiple notifications to the user before the deletion process starts.

Update: May 18, 2023 (5:32 AM ET): Google has clarified it has no plans of deleting accounts with YouTube videos at this time. That means if you are a creator and use your Google account just for uploading YouTube videos and nothing else, you are in the clear.

Original article: May 16, 2023 (12:20 PM ET): If you have a Google account and haven’t logged on in a while, you may want to do a quick check-in. Google plans to start deleting inactive accounts later this year.

In a blog post, the Mountain View-based firm announced a change to its inactive accounts policy. Back in 2020, the company said it would remove content stored in an inactive account, but would keep the account. According to the blog, Google says it will now delete accounts along with the content if the account has been inactive for two years or longer.

It appears this move is based on user data security. The tech giant claims that unused accounts are more likely to be compromised due to a variety of factors. Some examples given include a lack of two-factor authentication and security checks.

The policy goes into effect starting today, but the purge won’t start until December 2023. If your account has crossed the two-year threshold, Google says the account and its contents may be deleted including Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar, YouTube, and Google Photos.

Before that happens, the company states that it will send out multiple notifications “over the months leading up to deletion, to both the account email address and the recovery email.” It will also use a phased approach, “starting with accounts that were created and never used again.”

To keep your account, all you have to do is make it active. This can be done by signing in and using any of Google’s services. For example, these actions would change your account to active:

  • Reading an email
  • Using Google Drive
  • Watching YouTube
  • Using Google Search
  • Using Google sign-in to log into a third-party service

If you have a business account, you won’t have to worry about this policy change. Google says it will only apply to free personal accounts. Subscriptions like Google One are also safe from this new policy.

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