How to save your Google account from deletion before it’s too late

Key Takeaways

  • Google is now deleting inactive accounts that haven’t been used for two years or more to improve security and decrease maintenance costs.
  • To prevent your Google account from being deleted, you can take actions such as signing in, using Gmail or Google Drive, and watching YouTube videos.
  • If your account is identified as inactive, Google will send multiple messages before deletion, so it’s essential to have a recovery email set up and regularly check your Gmail for notifications.


It’s highly likely that you have a Google account or have had one at some point in the past. You may even have more than one. Google accounts offer a range of benefits, from giving you a Gmail address to allowing you to store data in Google Drive or sign in to YouTube.

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Previously, if you set up a Google account and didn’t do anything with it, it would still be there waiting for you when you decided you wanted to reaccess it. That’s no longer the case, however. Google has now started deleting inactive accounts that haven’t been touched for two years or more.

If you have a Google account that you’ve not used in a while, don’t panic; you should still have time to stop it from being deleted forever. Here’s how to save your Google account before it’s too late.

Gmail email

Google/ Pocket-lint


How do I stop Google from deleting my account?

First things first, let’s get to the critical part before it’s too late. If you’re worried that your Google account has been inactive and could be deleted, it’s easy to turn your inactive account back into an active one again. This will ensure that it doesn’t get slated for deletion.

Actions you can take to keep your Google account active include:

  • Signing in to your Google account.
  • Reading or sending an email from your Gmail account.
  • Using Google Drive when signed in to your account.
  • Watching a YouTube video when signed in to your account.
  • Downloading an app from the Google Play Store when signed in to your account.
  • Using Google Search when signed in to your account.
  • Using Sign in with Google to sign in to an app or service.

If you have an active subscription on your Google account, such as a Google One subscription or a subscription to an app, your account will be considered active. If you have any YouTube videos uploaded from your Google account, they won’t currently be marked for deletion, although this may change.

Why is Google deleting accounts?

Google says that the reason it is deleting inactive accounts is that accounts that haven’t been used for extended periods are more likely to be compromised. These accounts are more likely to have passwords that have been compromised, may not have additional security measures in place, such as two-factor authentication, and receive fewer security checks from account owners.

From now on, Google will delete any accounts that have been inactive for at least two years.

It’s also the case that Google probably spends a significant sum of money hosting inactive accounts on its servers, so removing these accounts makes financial sense, too.

When will Google delete my inactive account?

The deletion of inactive accounts started on 1 December 2023. Google has said it will roll out the process’ slowly and carefully’ with accounts that were created, but that have never been used to be the first to be removed.

How will I know if Google is going to delete my account?

If your account is identified as being inactive, you will receive multiple messages in the months leading up to deletion. These emails will be sent to both the account email address and the account recovery email address if one has been set up.

If you don’t have a recovery email set up, and you don’t currently use your Google account, however, then you may not see these notifications. If you’re concerned about your Google account, you should sign in and check your Gmail to be safe. You should also ensure you have a recovery email address set up for your Google account, as explained later in the article.

Will Google delete my work or school account?

Currently, the plans only extend to personal Google accounts. If you have a school or business account, this won’t be deleted, even if it meets the criteria for being inactive.

google-photos-stacks

Google/ Pocket-lint

Will my Google Photos account be deleted?

Google Photos is being treated separately from other types of Google accounts. You will need to sign in to Google Photos itself at least once every two years to ensure that your account is considered active. The other methods listed above, such as reading an email or using Google Drive, won’t affect the status of your Google Photos account.

Google Search

Google/ Pocket-lint

What happens when a Google account is removed?

If your account is considered inactive and remains inactive after you have received several messages informing you that your account may be deleted, eventually, Google will delete it.

“You will no longer be able to access Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos, and YouTube.”

Once your account is deleted, you’ll lose more than just your emails. Some of the things that will be affected include:

  • You will no longer be able to access Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos, and YouTube and will lose access to any data within those apps.
  • You will lose your Google username; you won’t be able to create a new account with the same name.
  • Your Google search history will be deleted.
  • Your Google Maps history will be deleted.
  • Your YouTube watch history will be deleted.
  • You can no longer access the Google Play Store on Android.

Are deleted Google accounts gone forever?

Once Google has deleted your account, you won’t be able to recover it. However, if you’ve used Google Takeout to back up some of your data, you may still be able to access this archive. You won’t be able to reinstate your account; however, your Gmail address will be gone.

adding recovery email to gmail on iPhone 15 pro

Can you add a recovery email to a Google account?

Adding a recovery email to your Google account ensures that you can receive notifications about your account, such as information about potential deletion or unusual sign-in activity, even if you’re not actively checking the Google account itself. You should aim to use an active email that you check regularly as your recovery email.

How to add a recovery email to your Google account on iOS

You can add a recovery email to your Google account on your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Launch the Gmail app.
  2. Tap your Profile icon in the top right of the screen.
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account.
  4. Swipe across the menus and select Security.
  5. Under How you sign in to Google, tap Recovery email.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to add a recovery email address.

How to add a recovery email to your Google account on Android

You can add a recovery email directly through your phone’s settings on Android.

  1. Open the Settings app on your Android phone.
  2. Select Google.
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account.
  4. Select Security from the tabs at the top.
  5. Tap Recovery email.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your recovery email.

How to add a recovery email to your Google account on desktop

You can also add a recovery email on desktop by signing in to your Google account in a browser.

  1. Sign in to your Google account.
  2. In the left-hand menu, select Personal info.
  3. In the Contact info section, click the Email section.
  4. Under Recovery email, click the Add recovery email button.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to add your recovery email.

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