If You Have an Old Gmail Account, It Might Get Deleted Soon—Here’s Why

Updated: May 24, 2023

if you have an old Google account you haven't used in two years, you need to use it or you might lose it.

Between spyware, fake QR codes, cookies, the risk of charging your phone in public—the list goes on—there are so many ways to get scammed these days. When it comes to cybersecurity, most of us probably aren’t overly concerned about our abandoned email accounts, which may have been set up for a specific purpose like managing a fundraiser or selling property, but Google says those dormant accounts can be problematic both for ourselves and others.

Inactive email accounts are more susceptible to security threats such as phishing and account hijacking, so Google will begin deleting accounts that have been inactive for two or more years. The good news is you can easily save your inactive accounts and their data from deletion. Here’s everything you need to know about Google’s new policy.

Why is Google deleting inactive accounts?

Gmail App on the screen of a smartphonePicture Alliance/Getty Images

According to Google, accounts that have been abandoned are 10 times less likely than active accounts to have two-factor authentication set up and often have weak passwords. This is a risk both for the account holder and everyone else, because these vulnerable accounts, once compromised, can be used not only for identity theft but also to send spam emails to others.

When will Google begin deleting inactive accounts?

Although Google’s new policy went into effect on May 16, 2023, the earliest they’ll begin deleting accounts is December 2023. Google will work in phases, and the first accounts to be deleted will be those that were set up but never used. The company will send multiple emails before deletion to both the account in question and the recovery email if one was set up.

What data will this impact?

Many people use an email address as backup storage based on the assumption that it will always be there, so if you’ve been using an inactive Google account to save and store files, you’ll want to protect it. If your account is deleted, you’ll lose all associated content, which includes Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar, etc.) and Google Photos.

How to protect your Gmail account from deletion

view of a Google Gmail interface on a laptopGareth Fuller - PA Images/Getty Images

If you have a Google account that you intentionally haven’t used or had forgotten about but want to keep, here’s a list of actions you can take to ensure your account isn’t deleted.

  • 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


  • Google: “Updating our inactive account policies”