Google might delete your Gmail account3 min read
Google has announced a new policy that will affect users who have inactive Google accounts or who are over their storage limit. Starting from December 2023, Google will delete the content of the accounts that have been inactive for at least two years or that have exceeded their storage quota for the same period.
This means that users who have not signed in to their Google account or used any Google service, such as Gmail, Drive, Calendar, or Photos, for two years could lose their emails, files, photos, and other data stored in their account. Similarly, users who have not managed their storage space and have exceeded their limit for two years could also face data deletion.
Meant to free up storage
Google said that this policy change is intended to free up storage space and improve the security and privacy of its users. According to Google, older accounts are more likely to rely on recycled passwords and less likely to employ up-to-date security measures like two-step verification, making them more vulnerable to issues like phishing, hacking, and spam.
The policy will not affect users who regularly use their Google accounts or who have purchased additional storage space through Google One. It will also not apply to accounts that belong to organizations like schools and businesses that use Google Workspace.
Google will notify before purge
Google said that it will notify users multiple times before deleting any content and that it will conduct the purge of inactive accounts in phases. The first accounts on the chopping block will be those that were created and then never revisited by the user, Google said.
Users who want to keep their accounts and data can simply sign in to their Google account or any Google service at least once every two years. They can also review and download their data using Google Takeout or delete their account if they no longer need it.
The new policy is similar to the one it introduced in 2020, when it said that users would have their content wiped from services they had stopped using, but the accounts themselves would not be deleted. However, the new policy goes a step further and affects the entire Google account, not just individual services.
Will effect millions of users
Google’s new policy is also more aggressive than those of some of its competitors. For example, Microsoft says that it will delete Outlook.com accounts that have been inactive for two years, but only after sending a warning email 60 days before deletion. Yahoo says that it will delete Yahoo Mail accounts that have been inactive for 12 months, but only if they do not have a paid subscription.
This policy could affect millions of users who have created Google accounts but have not used them for a long time or who have forgotten about them. It could also affect users who have multiple Google accounts and do not remember which ones they have signed in to recently.
Therefore, users who want to avoid losing their data should check their activity and storage status on their Google account page and take action accordingly. They should also update their recovery information and security settings to ensure that they can access their account in case they forget their password or lose their device.
Data freed for future AI usage
Google’s new policy is part of its efforts to manage its massive data storage infrastructure, which hosts billions of users’ data across various services. According to a report by CNBC, Google’s latest AI language model, PaLM 2, used five times as much training data as its predecessor (3.6 trillion tokens vs. 780 billion) but less compute (340 billion parameters vs. 540 billion). This shows that creating cutting-edge AI models requires a lot of data and resources.
By deleting inactive accounts and data, Google could free up some space and reduce some costs. However, it could also upset some users who might lose important or sentimental data without realizing it. Therefore, users should be aware of the new policy and take steps to protect their data before it is too late.