Bequeathing Your Google Data: How to Use Inactive Account Manager
CREDIT: Shutterstock: Viktor Gladkov
What happens to all of the content you've stored online with Google — your photos, videos and email? You can determine the fate of your data by using Google's Inactive Accounts Manager.
The tool was recently launched by Google with little fanfare. Even its description tiptoes around the issue. In fact, Google doesn't use the word death at all, and refers only to a time when you no longer sign in to your accounts. Nevertheless, the service is designed to let users determine what happens to their data.
Here's how to activate the Google feature. It takes only a few minutes, but could save your family and friends from wrangling over what should be done with your material. Log in to Google, and go to a service you use, such as Gmail. Click on your photo or name in the upper-right corner, and select Account. Look for the section titled Account Management, and select "Control what happens to your account when you stop using Google. Learn more and go to setup."
You'll have several decisions to make. You must set a time-out period, which is the amount of time between your last login and when Google takes action. You may choose either three, six, nine, 12, 15 or 18 months. Google will send an alert to your email address a month before the time-out period ends — a safeguard, just in case you've taken a prolonged break from Google. [See also: 1 out of 5 Americans Shun the Internet ]
You may then add up to 10 contacts who should be notified that your accounts have been inactive for the specified number of months. As you enter each email address or name, you can check a box that says you want to share data with that person. In the next step, you will choose the services the contact will access, such as your documents in Drive , your contacts and your email. Google asks for mobile numbers for these contacts, who will be sent a verification code before they can download your content. Finally, you will be able to write a message to these people that will be sent on your behalf, along with download instructions.
As if this weren’t already making you feel a little uncomfortable, Google also gives you the option to skip sharing altogether and simply have Google delete your accounts once the time-out period has expired. To see a preview of your accumulated data, you may use Google's Takeout service, which will download all of your content to a ZIP file.