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Google to Start Removing ‘Inactive’ User Accounts

Google logos are shown when searched on Google in New York, Sept. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Google logos are shown when searched on Google in New York, Sept. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Google to Start Removing ‘Inactive’ User Accounts
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Google is about to start deleting accounts considered “inactive.”

The company plans to start removing inactive accounts that users have not used or signed into for more than two years on December 1.

Google announced the policy in May, saying it could begin removing affected accounts in December 2023. User data that could be deleted includes content stored within Google Drive, Docs, Gmail and other services.

Google says users with accounts at risk of being deleted should have already received email messages explaining the policy and the steps required to keep accounts active.

The company said the deletion process will start with Google accounts that were created, but never used again. Google is urging users who want to save their accounts and related data to take some form of action by the end of this week.

Why is Google deleting inactive accounts?

Google has said its policy to delete old, unused accounts is designed to remove security risks related to those accounts.

In its announcement, Google said accounts that go long periods of time without activity are “more likely to be compromised.” The reasons for this include the fact that forgotten or unused accounts often depend on old or reused passwords.

Another thing that puts such accounts at risk is the lack of two-step security processes that became popular in recent years to help users keep their accounts secure. This security tool, called “two-factor authentication,” aims to reduce the risk of internet attackers taking over personal accounts and stealing data.

In addition, old and unused accounts “receive fewer security checks by the user,” Google said.

How can I prevent my account from being deleted?

Google says the best way to keep a user account active is to sign into it at least once every two years.

But there are some other actions that meet the requirements for keeping a Google account active. These include sending or looking at emails, using Google search and watching videos on Google-owned YouTube. The user must be signed in to their Google account when performing these actions.

The policy covers Google Photos as well. The company explains that the simplest way to avoid losing saved pictures and videos is “to visit Google Photos on the web or through the app.” When signed in, users just need to perform some activity. For example, they can look through an image collection, share a photo or video or back up content in Photos.

Are there any exceptions to the policy?

Google says it only plans to delete old or unused accounts for personal users. Accounts that were set up for organizations, such as schools or businesses, will not be affected.

Other exceptions include Google accounts controlled by an adult for a child or accounts that have been used to buy goods or services on an ongoing basis.

Google has also noted there are no current plans to delete accounts with YouTube videos.

How can I save data from my Google account?

Google does offer users some tools to help them save and backup stored data. One of them is called Takeout. This service permits users to download and export account data outside of Google at any time. An account holder can use this method to back up stored data or to use it with a service outside of Google.

In addition, Google offers a tool, called Inactive Account Manager, which permits users to choose what would happen to their accounts and data if it does become inactive. The choices for activating this service include having files sent to a set of trusted contacts or requesting that the whole account be deleted.

Google also asks that all its users provide a recovery email for their account. This can be an important method for getting a user back into a locked account and can also be helpful for sending inactive account messages and other communications.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press and Google reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English.

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Words in This Story

delete – v. to remove something, especially from a computer’s memory

compromise – v. to agree to something that is not exactly what you want

app – n. a small computer program that can be put onto a mobile phone or other electronic device