Google Will Start Deleting Old Accounts Today. Here's How to Save Yours

You'll need to take action to keep your inactive Google account from being purged.

Clifford Colby Managing Editor
Clifford is a managing editor at CNET, where he leads How-To coverage. He spent a handful of years at Peachpit Press, editing books on everything from the first iPhone to Python. He also worked at a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWEEK and MacUser. Unrelated, he roots for the Oakland A's.
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CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Clifford Colby
Gael Cooper
3 min read
Google apps

The clock is ticking on certain Google accounts that haven't seen recent use.

James Martin/CNET

Starting Dec. 1, Google will begin deleting inactive Google accounts, including account contents such as photos, Gmail messages, Calendar appointments, Drive documents, Contacts records and YouTube videos.

An inactive Google account could include a Gmail address you used to subscribe to a newsletter, join an online forum or sign up for a shopping site -- all to remain anonymous or avoid spammy messages in your main account. Google said Dec. 1 is the earliest it will begin deleting accounts, so not all inactive accounts will be erased at one time.

If you've got old Google accounts you'd like to keep, here's how to stop Google from deleting them. For more, check out how to log in to Google with a passkey, and discover 10 Gmail tips and tools to use daily.

Why is Google deleting inactive accounts?

If an account hasn't been used for a while, Google said it's more likely to be hacked: "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." 

To reduce this risk, Google may delete an account and its contents if it hasn't been used or signed into for at least two years. If you haven't logged into an account since 2021, Google may get rid of it.

If you're worried about someone grabbing your deleted account, rest easy: If Google deletes an inactive account, that Gmail address cannot be used again to create a new account, Google said.

Watch this: Watch Google Demo Generative AI Tech for Workspace Apps

How to keep your Google accounts

It's not difficult to preserve your older Google accounts. You need to sign in at least once every two years. If you can't remember whether you've done that, now's the time. 

There are several ways to keep your account active. Reading or sending an email, using Google Drive, watching a YouTube video, downloading an app on the Google Play Store, using Google search or using Google to sign in to a third-party app or service all count. If you have a subscription set up through your Google account -- for instance, to Google One, a news publication or an app, that's also considered activity.

Note that only personal Google accounts are at risk of deletion, not business or school accounts.

When will Google start deleting accounts?

Although Dec. 1 is the earliest you could lose your account, Google said it will send reminder emails to an account's primary and recovery emails at least eight months before it takes action, alerting you about the possible deletion. 

What if you forget your Google account username or password?

If you know you have an old Google account but can't remember its details, you may still be able to recover it.

If you forgot your password, for example, you may be able to recover it using this Google password recovery tool. You'll need to answer questions to confirm it's your account.

If you forgot your email address, you may be able to recover it using this Google account recovery tool. You'll need a phone number or the recovery email address for the account. If you run into trouble, Google has advice on what to do.

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