Starting 1st December 2023, Google will be conducting a major clean-up of all inactive accounts that have data stored on Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Photos.

According to Google’s guidelines, it reserves the right to delete an inactive account and its activity and data if the account is dormant for two years.

However, this policy only applies to personal Google accounts and not ones set up for work, schools, or other organisations.

Google has a total of 1.8 billion Gmail users and two billion Google Photos users.

The news broke out initially in May, with Google sending warnings and reminders since August.

“We want to protect your private information and prevent any unauthorised access to your account even if you’re no longer using our services,” Google explained at the time.

Ruth Kricheli, Vice President of Product Management at Google, remarked that the decision to delete inactive accounts was done to improve security.

“If an account hasn’t been used for an extended period of time, it is more likely to be compromised,” she said.

Internal findings revealed that older accounts are more likely to have multiple verification measures and rely on recycled passwords, making them more exposed and vulnerable to hacking, phishing and spam.

What makes an account active?

Normally, a Google account is considered active when it is regularly used. Additionally, an active account has recently, or at least within a two-year period, done one of these activities:

  • Signed in.

  • Read or sent an mail.

  • Used Google Drive.

  • Watched a YouTube video.

  • Shared a photo.

  • Downloaded an app.

  • Used Google Search.

  • Used sign-in with Google to sign into a third-party app or service.

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