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How to back up and then delete your Google account

If you're done with Google or have an old account you no longer need, here's what you need to do to close your account.

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Ready to ditch Google? Here's how to delete your acount. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Whether you want to close your Google account over privacy concerns or you're trying to reduce the number of internet accounts you have, the process takes some effort and time, but can be done without much fuss.

The key is to take the time to download a copy of all of your data, and double check that none of your online accounts use the Gmail address you're about to close. It'd be a shame if you lost access to your bank account because you forgot to change your email address beforehand. 

Below I'll walk you through backing up your Google account data and then point you in the right direction to close out your Google account. 

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Back up all of your data before you close your account

Google's Takeout service makes it easy to download all the data linked to your Google account with just a few clicks. Start by going to the Google Takeout website and signing in to the account you want to close. 

Go through the list of the various services and apps that are linked to your Google account and uncheck the box next to anything you don't want to have a backup of. I suggest leaving all of them checked. It's better to have the data and not need it than to need the data and not have it. Take the time to go through the options for sections like Google Photos and ensure all of your photo albums will be included. 

Click Next Step at the bottom of the list. The next section will ask how you want your data delivered. You can have Google automatically place the files in another cloud storage service (current options are Dropbox, OneDrive and Box, in addition to Google Drive), or have Google email you a link to download the data once it's ready. 

Next, select your export preferences. Since you're closing your account, just stick with the default selection or Export once. Select the type and size of the files you want to receive. 

Finally, click Create export and then wait. It can take a few hours, or even days, according to Google to get all of your information gathered and ready to download. You'll receive an email when Google is done preparing the files. 

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Make sure you have a copy of your data. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

How to close your Google account

With a copy of your data safely stored, it's time to delete your account. Go to the Google Account website, sign in to the account you're closing and select the Data & personalization option on the left side of the screen. 

Find the section labeled Download or delete your data and click on Delete a service or your account. Next, click Delete your account. You'll need to log in to your account again. 

Google will give you the option to back up all of your data, and show you a list of all the services that you'll no longer have access to, including how much data is stored in each one. For example, if I deleted my account, I would lose all 602 contacts I have saved in Google Contacts. 

Once you've double-checked you have all of your data, scroll to the bottom of the page and check the two boxes to confirm you want to delete your account, then click the Delete Account button. 

If you'd rather delete your entire Google account, but you're more concerned about the amount of data the company stores about you, you can delete just the data. We also have guides that walk you through deleting your Facebook account, Amazon account and Instagram account.