May 26, 2024

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Google Plans to Delete Inactive Accounts

Google, the tech giant that hosts billions of user accounts across various services, has announced a new policy that will affect those who have not logged in for a long time. Starting from December 2023, Google will begin deleting accounts that have been inactive for at least two years, as well as accounts that were created and never used or used only briefly.

The policy will apply to Google services such as Calendar, Drive, Docs, Gmail, Meet and, maybe most alarmingly, Photos. However, there are some exceptions: accounts with YouTube videos or active subscriptions will not be deleted, and neither will accounts tied to organizations such as schools or businesses.

Google says the main reason for this change is to improve its overall security by removing abandoned accounts that are more likely to have weak passwords or lack two-factor authentication, making them more vulnerable to phishing, hacking and spam. The company also says it wants to free up storage space and resources for active users.

Before deleting any account, Google says it will send multiple warning notifications to the account’s primary email and the recovery address. Users can also use Google Takeout to download their data for safekeeping, or set up the Inactive Account Manager to provide access to someone else in case they can’t access their account or pass away.

While some users may welcome Google’s move as a way to protect their privacy and security, others may be concerned about losing their data or access to important services. Here are some of the pros and cons of Google’s plan to delete inactive accounts:

The Pros

Enhanced security: By deleting inactive accounts, Google can reduce the risk of hackers or scammers accessing them and using them for malicious purposes. This can also prevent identity theft or fraud, as well as unwanted emails or notifications from Google services.

More storage space: By deleting inactive accounts, Google can free up more storage space for active users who need it. This can also help Google save on costs and resources, as well as reduce its environmental impact by using less energy and servers.

Better user experience: By deleting inactive accounts, Google can improve its user experience by making its services faster and more reliable. This could also help Google optimize its features based on active user feedback and behavior.

The Cons

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Data loss: By deleting inactive accounts, Google can cause users to lose their data permanently if they don’t back it up or transfer it elsewhere. This can include personal or professional documents, photos, videos, emails, contacts, calendars and more.

Service disruption: By deleting inactive accounts, Google can disrupt users’ access to important services that they may need in the future. This can include online banking, shopping, education, health care, travel and more. Users may also lose their usernames or email addresses that they may want to use again.

Privacy concerns: By deleting inactive accounts, Google can raise privacy concerns for users who may not want their data to be scanned or analyzed by Google before deletion. Users may also worry about how Google will handle their data after deletion, such as whether it will be erased completely or retained for some time.

Back Up Your Photos Now

One of the most valuable data that users could lose due to Google’s plan to delete inactive accounts is their photos. Many users rely on Google Photos to store and organize their photos and videos, especially since it offers unlimited storage for high-quality images. However, if they don’t log in to their Google account for two years, they risk losing all their photos permanently.

Google Photos does not have a separate recovery option for deleted photos. Users can only restore photos from the trash bin within 60 days of deletion. After that, they can try contacting Google Support within 21 days and request them to restore their photos, but there is no guarantee that they will succeed. Alternatively, they can use a photo recovery software to recover lost photos from their devices, but this may not work if the photos were only stored online.

Therefore, users who want to preserve their precious photos should back them up regularly or transfer them to another service before Google deletes their account. They should also check their Google account settings and make sure they have a valid recovery email and phone number in case they forget their password or lose access to their account. Losing photos can be devastating for many users, so they should take precautions to avoid it.

Google’s plan to delete inactive accounts is a significant change that will affect millions of users around the world. While it has some benefits for security and performance, it also has some drawbacks for data and service access. Users who want to keep their accounts should log in regularly or take steps to preserve their data before it’s too late. 

Picture of By Jim Daws

By Jim Daws

Jim Daws is Managing Editor for Innovation & Tech Today.

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