Google is deleting old Gmail accounts. Here’s how to save yours.

Alina Myakota |

On December 1, the tech giant initiated the removal of all accounts inactive for two years or more. The company aims to reduce the risk of accounts being compromised by hackers.

Chances are, you may have a few accounts lingering from instances when you needed an email address for a free trial or service and used an alternative to your primary email. There's no shame in this tactic, but the game has now changed, as Google is discontinuing these old, unused accounts.

Google's analysis reveals that dormant accounts are 10 times less likely to utilize two-factor authentication, a security measure that combines a password with a secondary authentication method (such as a text message or authenticator app code) to safeguard accounts against hacking. Consequently, these neglected accounts become more susceptible to cybercrimes, including identity theft.

If you are indifferent to your old account, you can simply allow Google to eliminate it without any action on your part. The company will sweep it away, and you won't need to worry about it again.

However, if you wish to retain an account, there are steps to ensure it doesn't vanish into the digital abyss.

The easiest method to keep your account active is to log in and read an email in Gmail or send an email. Alternatively, signing into your Google account and watching a YouTube video, accessing your Google Drive to upload or download a file, or creating a random Google Doc will all signal to Google that your account is still in use.

Google also assures that signing into your account, downloading an app from the Play Store, or conducting a Google search are effective methods to convey ongoing usage.

For those with a Google One account linked to their email, there's no need to worry.

If you wish to download your old account content before potentially losing it, Google's Takeout service allows you to export content like Google Photos, Drive, activity, Android configurations, and more to your device. However, be aware that using Takeout signals to Google that you're actively using the account, and if you want to permanently delete it, you'll need to do so manually through the "Data and Privacy" page on the "Manage Your Google Account" page. Follow the prompts, and bid farewell to your old account.

You can download all of the data from your Google account, before you delete it yourself. (Image: Google)


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