They say that life can only guarantee two inevitable things: death and taxes. It is difficult to argue with this, the first is inevitability, and the state will hinder us in every way possible to avoid the second. Today we will talk about what will happen to the user’s Google account if they leave the world.
If you are using an Android smartphone, you most likely have a backup of all the data on your phone. They are stored in your Google account: applications, messages, settings, photos and videos synchronized with Google Photos. All of this can take up tens of gigabytes.
Every major platform offering any kind of cloud storage inevitably deals with users who no longer use the services, but keep their accounts active. And some of them can create a significant load on the system, as cloud storage requires expensive server space and maintenance.
In January 2021, FinancesOnline reported 1.8 billion active Gmail users. It is the world’s largest email platform. Plus, Gmail is just one of the many services provided by Google. It’s not hard to guess that the Internet giant had to come up with an effective way to take care of accounts that are abandoned by the thousands every day for natural reasons.
Service “Just in case”
Google has created an innovative way to proactively choose an account option if you decide to leave the Internet for a long time, for example, becoming a hermit on a remote island or completely abandoning all your business for some reason.
The main function that solves this problem is called the service “Just in case” (in detail). With its help, Google will provide the user with complete flexibility in the choice of actions taken by the service in relation to closing an account and sharing information with your next of kin if you leave this world or suddenly retire.
The first thing that you will need to configure in the service is the amount of time that you need to leave for the account to exist without showing any activity.
After that, the Inactive Account Manager will be triggered . This time can vary from three to eighteen months, only then the service will become operational.
What is meant by inactivity?
To identify a user’s inactivity, Google tracks when they last logged into Gmail or YouTube using their account (via the mobile app or otherwise), their current My Activities, and logs any use of their Android device under this Google account.
After you have selected the allowable downtime in the “Just in case” service, you can continue to work with it and select specific trusted contacts. When the appointed time expires, they will receive notifications. You can’t choose more than ten people to be notified, but that’s usually not a problem – most people only choose their spouse or one or two close family members.
You can receive an automated email when the time is right
You can also activate the option to create a private message that will be sent to the selected person (s) after a predetermined period. This makes it possible to transfer any passwords or PINs that you want to grant access to. If you prefer not to give these people full access to your account, but only give access to certain files / folders with important information, this is also possible.
You will receive SMS and email notification 1 month before deactivation
After everything is set up and you stop using the services, Google will send you several notifications both by SMS (a phone number is required for the setup process) and by email. All this will happen a month before the expiration of the allotted time. Your authorized representative will not receive any notifications until the period of inactivity has completely expired and the account is deactivated, and this does not mean its deletion.
After deactivating your account, your trusted person will receive an email (with an optional personal message), as well as access to anything you choose to share with them.
If you choose to delete your account, that person will have 3 months after account deactivation to access or download any of your data. The account and all of its content on Google platforms will then be completely removed from the cloud.
You can choose not to delete your account
You may not delete your account at all after deactivating it, in this case, any contacts you select for access will have more time to work with the account at their discretion.
It can be helpful to know that even if the complete deletion process is irreversible, the email address used can never be reused.
How long does it take for Google to delete my account if I don’t use Gmail, YouTube, etc.?
A few years ago, there was such a practice: after 9 months of inactivity, Google took the initiative to delete the account (without warning to the user), since it was considered inactive. However, this policy was clearly not ideal and was recently changed with the introduction of a new rule.
On June 1, 2021, Google began deleting all accounts that have been inactive for the past 2 years. Until the expiration of this time, such measures will not be applied to anything and nothing will be deactivated.
As most of us know, free storage on Google platforms (shared by Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos) is limited to 15GB. Any storage increase over the limit is billed monthly.
If you miss any of these monthly payments, Google promises a 7-day grace period with no penalty, giving you time to update your billing information. You will then lose the ability to send / receive emails in Gmail, upload new files to Google Drive, or sync any photos with Google – at least until you free up space or buy more storage.
If an account has a data volume above the current storage limit for 2 years, then all of its contents will be deleted.
Can the deceased’s family access their Google Account?
Google makes it clear that passwords, credentials, or unauthorized access, posthumous or not, will never be shared with anyone.
However, Google leaves some wiggle room for itself in situations where the family of the deceased needs special account information, even if Inactive Account Manager has not been set up.
Google has some standard protocol for gaining access to a deceased user’s account. By going to this form , family members can formally request one of the following:
- Close the deceased user’s account;
- Apply to transfer funds from the deceased user’s account;
- Retrieve data from the deceased user’s account.
If people want to “retrieve data from a deceased user’s account,” they will be prompted to enter the following information:
- Full name of the deceased
- Deceased’s email address.
- Name of a relative or legal representative
- Last name of a relative or legal representative.
- Relative or legal representative’s email address.
- Full mailing address.
- Date of death.
- Choose which Google platforms you want to access (Gmail, Drive, Google Photos, YouTube, etc.)
- An uploaded scan of your government ID or driver’s license, the deceased’s death certificate, and any additional documents.
If the documents are in a language other than English, a professional notarized English translation is required.
Before the form is submitted, Google also requires the requesting party to agree to obtain a court order in the United States after the initial request is submitted. Google promises to help with the required language of the court order.
We sincerely hope that none of you will find yourself in a situation where you have to use Google Inactive Account Manager for yourself or your loved one.
However, it is always good to have a system of protection against the problems of life that, in the event of a tragedy, will help to relieve the grieving family of many additional problems. It’s always better to play it safe than sorry, and Google helps prepare for this and supports its users in such a situation.