The countdown clock for the great inactive Google account purge is ticking. Act fast to save your old Gmail and Photos content. Here’s what you need to know and do.
With just days to go until the December 1 deadline when Google starts enforcing an updated inactive account policy, users are understandably concerned about what will happen to their content such as Gmail messages, photos and documents.
The good news is that, for the vast majority of Gmail and Photos users, their accounts will remain safe from the content deletions to come. That’s because most of the 1.8 billion Gmail users and 2 billion Google Photos users have active accounts.
In Google policy terms, they have accessed their Google accounts within the last two years. Although no statistics are available to reveal just how many inactive Google accounts there are, if the number is just 1%, that would still mean 18 million Gmail users and 20 million Google Photos users in the crosshairs. That’s a lot of messages and photos about to go to the great trashcan in the sky.
Why Is Google Deleting Gmail And Photos Content?
The official reason is that of improving security. As Ruth Kricheli, a vice president of product management at Google, said in a May 2023 update, “If an account hasn’t been used for an extended period of time, it is more likely to be compromised.” This might sound like something of a stretch, but it does make sense, as older accounts are less likely to have things such as two-factor authentication running. Google itself says that it has internal data that suggests these inactive accounts are, in fact, “10x less likely than active accounts” to be using 2FA. I would advise you complete the Google Account Security Checkup when you sign into an inactive account so as to ensure it is properly protected. A compromised Google account is akin to the keys of the online kingdom for a threat actor, although the value of an abandoned account could be argued to be much less than an active one. I suspect that there are additional reasons behind the change to the inactive account policy, not least the cost of storing all that apparently unwanted data.