Not everyone likes to talk about death, but sadly it’s inevitable; no one lives forever. Because of this, Google has decided to give its users total control over their data, should their account become “inactive.” This is done via their new Inactive Account Manager, which can be used to plan your “digital afterlife.”
Google created this tool so that you can give your data to a trusted family member or friend, and they can do with it as they wish. Luckily, there’s great flexibility; you get to choose who to share with, what exactly is shared, how long to wait before acting up on your final wishes, and more.
Using Inactive Account Manager
1. Go to the Inactive Account Manager page from your Google account (Google App accounts are currently not supported).
2. Click on the blue “setup” button to get started; you’ll be directed to a new page.
3. Choose an “Alert me” method. Google will alert you before any actions are performed via your mobile phone. Optionally, you may also choose to add additional email address(es) other than a primary Gmail email address.
4. Choose a timeout period; you can choose 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, or 18 months. Your account will time out if you haven’t used it after this amount of time. Google will alert you one-month before the timeout period ends.
5. You may choose to notify up to ten family friends or friends that you trust about your inactive account. What’s great about this is that each contact can be unique. For instance, you can just alert one contact, but alert and share your data with another. You also get to choose which data to share (e.g. Contacts, Drive, YouTube, Google Voice, Gmail, etc). They’ll be able to download that data for three months.
6. Enter a phone number for your contact(s), as they’ll receive a verification code before being able to access your data. After that, you’ll be able to customize an email message to be sent to them. You can use this to provide additional instructions, or even to send a heartfelt farewell message – it’s up to you.
7. You may choose whether or not to have Google delete your account. This will only happen after all other actions (above) have been completed.
8. When you’re done with all of your settings, be sure to click the “Enable” button at the bottom. Optionally, you may choose to be reminded occasionally that Inactive Account Manager is enabled for your account.
Now you don’t have to worry about your Google account being inactive for eternity! You can simply pass it on to a spouse, relative, or friend for safe keeping, or just delete it without anyone even knowing. The power is in your hands.
Note: Inactive Account Manager is not available for Google Apps accounts; it’s only available for Google accounts.