Google has announced an updated inactive-account policy, raising concerns for users who haven't utilized their Google accounts in over two years. Under this policy, dormant accounts might face deletion as part of a phased approach starting at the week's end. If users wish to safeguard their data on platforms like Google Drive, Docs, Gmail, and others, signing in before the deadline is advised.
The reason behind Google's initiative lies in addressing security concerns. Inactive accounts, left abandoned or forgotten for an extended period, tend to have outdated passwords, lack two-factor authentication, and receive fewer security checks. These factors render these accounts vulnerable to compromise, potentially resulting in misuse for spam, malicious content, or identity theft.
To prevent account deletion, the simplest method is to log in at least once every two years. Alongside signing in, activities such as browsing emails, using Google search, watching YouTube videos while logged into your account, or maintaining subscriptions linked to your Google account can contribute to preserving its activity status. Additionally, Google Photos content may also be at risk of deletion after two years of inactivity, necessitating periodic logins to prevent data loss.
However, certain accounts will not be affected by this policy. Personal Google accounts inactive for more than two years are the primary targets. Accounts affiliated with organizations such as schools or companies remain exempt. Exceptions also encompass accounts managing active minor accounts, holding a gift card balance, or those used for ongoing Google product purchases, apps, or subscriptions.
Regarding data preservation, Google provides users with tools like Google Takeout to download and export account data externally. The Inactive Account Manager is another resource allowing users to select what happens to their data if the account becomes inactive, enabling choices such as sending files to trusted contacts or deleting the account altogether. Google also mentions its willingness to work with immediate family members in closing deceased loved ones' accounts or providing account content, ensuring confidentiality and adhering to privacy policies.
In summary, while Google's inactive-account policy aims to address security concerns by potentially deleting dormant accounts, users can prevent this by periodically logging in or utilizing various Google services. Furthermore, the company offers several tools and management options to safeguard and manage user data effectively, ensuring data preservation and privacy. Users are encouraged to maintain a current recovery email address to receive communications and notifications regarding account status and inactivity warnings.