Google has initiated the notification process to alert users about the upcoming deletion of millions of Gmail accounts next month, marking a significant update to the platform. This cleanup will specifically affect personal Google accounts that have remained inactive for a minimum of two years, resulting in the permanent deletion of emails, documents, spreadsheets, calendar appointments, photos, and videos.

Originally introduced earlier this year, the policy is slated to be enforced starting December 2023. Ruth Kricheli, Google’s vice president of product management, shared in a May blog post, “We are updating our inactivity policy for Google Accounts to two years across our products. 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.”

The primary goal behind this move is to enhance the security of active Google users by mitigating potential threats such as phishing scams and account hijacking. Inactive accounts are often vulnerable to hackers who exploit reused passwords compromised in other security breaches, readily available on the dark web.

Dormant Gmail accounts to be deleted

To ensure users are well-informed, Google assures that any account facing the risk of deletion will receive multiple notifications, including alerts sent to associated recovery email addresses. The proactive outreach has already commenced, with Google emailing affected users, emphasizing the need to take action “to protect your private information and prevent any unauthorized access to your account even if you’re no longer using our services.”

It’s worth noting that losing access to a Gmail account may not only impact Google services but could also hinder users from accessing other online platforms and services associated with that email address. To maintain account activity and prevent deletion, Google advises users to engage with their accounts by opening or sending emails, using Google Drive, downloading an app from the Google Play Store, or conducting a Google Search while logged in.

Importantly, accounts that have posted a video on YouTube will not be affected by the cleanup, regardless of their last activity date.