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Google is deleting old Gmail accounts. Here’s how to save yours.

Say so long to your old Google (GOOG, GOOGL) account.

Beginning on Dec. 1, the tech giant will begin purging all accounts that have been inactive for two years or more. The company says the move is meant to help cut back on the number of accounts that can be hijacked by hackers.

Chances are you have a few accounts floating around yourself — likely from those times you needed an email address to access a free trial for a site or service, and already used your primary email. And hey, there’s no shame in gaming the system.

But that game is over. Now Google is axing those old, unused accounts.

According to Google’s analysis, mothballed accounts are 10 times less likely to use two-factor authentication, which helps protect accounts from hackers by requiring users to sign in using both a password and secondary authentication method. For example, a text message or authenticator app code.

Those accounts are then more likely to be used to pull off cyber crimes, including identity theft, the company says.

If you don’t care about your old account, then just sit back and let Google do away with it. You don’t have to do a thing. The company will sweep it away, and you’ll never have to think about it again.

If, however, you want to hold on to the account you used to make a secret Wendy’s app profile — which definitely isn’t something I’ve done — there are a few things you can do to ensure it doesn’t disappear into the internet ether.

The easiest way to keep your account up and running? Log in and read an email in Gmail. Heck, you can even send an email. Either way, Google will take it as a sign that your account is active.

You can also sign into your Google account and watch a YouTube video.

You can access your Google Drive account and upload or download a file, or create a nonsense Google Doc.

Sign up for the Yahoo Finance Tech newsletter.
Sign up for the Yahoo Finance Tech newsletter. (Yahoo Finance)

Google says you can also sign into your account and download an app through the Play Store or simply perform a Google search.

All of those methods will send Google a signal saying that you still use your account.

If you have a Google One account through your email, you’re also safe.

How to download your old account content

If you want to get rid of your old Google profile, but want to hold on to your data, you can use Google’s Takeout service, which lets you download content including your Google Photos, Drive, activity, Android configurations, and more to your device.

You can download all of the data from your Google account, before you delete it yourself. (Image: Google)
You can download all of the data from your Google account, before you delete it yourself. (Google) (Google)

Select the items you want to keep, click export, and wait for Google to send the data your way.

There’s a catch, though. Google will take this as a signal that you’re using your account again, and won’t automatically delete it. If you want to get rid of it permanently, you can delete it on your own.

To do that, go to the "Data and Privacy" page from the "Manage Your Google Account" page. Follow the prompts — and kiss your old account goodbye.

Daniel Howley is the tech editor at Yahoo Finance. He's been covering the tech industry since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielHowley.

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