Hello fellow procrastinators. This is your last-minute warning that you have until the end of the day to log in to any inactive Google accounts before they start getting deleted on December 1. Google is going to wipe any accounts that have been “inactive” for two years, allowing the company to free up storage space, delete unused personal data, and continue the ongoing journey of intense cost cutting it has been on for the past year.
The plan to do this was announced in May, and Google says inactive accounts should get “multiple notifications over the months leading up to deletion, to both the account email address and the recovery email (if one has been provided),” so hopefully this isn’t a surprise to anyone. The company says it will “take a phased approach” to deleting accounts, starting with “accounts that were created and never used again,” so even if you’re reading this on December 1, there’s probably still time to log in to an old account and save it.
As for the caveats around “inactivity,” Google says this will only apply to personal accounts that don’t have any subscriptions running, so Google Workspace and Google One users have nothing to fear. The company says you’ll count as “active” if you “sign-in at least once every 2 years,” which is pretty easy to do. Confusingly it also lists certain activities you can perform that will count as “activity,” but those seem rather moot, since you would already need to be logged in to do them. The “Sign in with Google” OAuth platform on other websites also counts as account activity, and so does being signed in on an Android phone.
Deleting inactive Google accounts originally threatened to wipe out a lot of historical YouTube content, but the company says accounts with public YouTube video will be spared. Google left that little tidbit out of the original announcement, causing people to wonder if that meant things like deleting the accounts of old presidents or the first-ever YouTube video, but that will not be the case.
Besides its recent obsession with cost cutting, Google says shutting down old accounts is a way to combat spam, since old accounts usually don’t have 2FA turned on and have old, probably leaked passwords from being used in other places. So if you don’t actually use your old Google account, maybe it’s best to let it get deleted. But if you do care, you’d best log in soon.