There is bad news for Gmail users who are not accessing their accounts regularly as there is a possibility that they may soon be unable to use them.
In a blog post written by Google Vice President of Product Management Ruth Kricheli in May, it was mentioned: "Our internal analysis shows abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step-verification set up. Meaning, these accounts are often vulnerable, and once an account is compromised, it can be used for anything from identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam."
"To reduce this risk, we are updating our inactivity policy for Google Accounts to 2 years across our products. Starting later this year, if a Google Account has not been used or signed into for at least 2 years, we may delete the account and its contents – including content within Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar) and Google Photos," the blog mentioned.
Will it affect companies and organisations?
No, Google mentioned the following changes will only concern personal users.
"The policy only applies to personal Google Accounts, and will not affect accounts for organizations like schools or businesses," the blog said.
"This update aligns our policy with industry standards around retention and account deletion and also limits the amount of time Google retains your unused personal information," read the blog.
"While the policy takes effect today, it will not immediately impact users with an inactive account — the earliest we will begin deleting accounts is December 2023," the search engine major said in the blog mentioning the time when it will begin deleting accounts.
The company said it will take a phased approach, starting with accounts that were created and never used again.
Will you get notified?
Before deleting an account, Google said it will send multiple notifications over the months leading up to deletion, to both the account email address and the recovery email (if one has been provided).
How to keep the account active?
The simplest way to keep a Google Account active is to sign-in at least once every 2 years.
"If you have signed into your Google Account or any of our services recently, your account is considered active and will not be deleted," read the blog post.
Activity might include these types of actions a user takes when he signs in or while he is signed in to the Google Account:
Reading or sending an email
Using Google Drive
Watching a YouTube video
Downloading an app on the Google Play Store
Using Google Search
Using Sign in with Google to sign in to a third-party app or service
"If you have an existing subscription set up through your Google Account, for example to Google One, a news publication or an app, we also consider this account activity and your account will not be impacted. Additionally, we do not have plans to delete accounts with YouTube videos at this time," the blog mentioned.