There comes a time when we all must shuffle off this mortal coil. The people you leave behind will have a great deal to cope with, including dealing with vast amounts of paper work. But what about your digital footprint? Unless you have revealed your Google password to people close to you, no one will ever be able to access all of the data you have stored online.
The launch of Google’s Inactive Account Manager changes all that. It’s a little morbid to think about, but it enables you to decide what happen to your Google data when you’re no longer around to access. We thought we’d take a look.
The amount of data that the average person now has stored with Google is slightly terrifying. I know that I make use of huge number of Google services and while some of it is backed up locally, that’s certainly not the case for everything.
Planning For The Big Day
While I’m alive I certainly don’t want anyone other than myself to be able to access my photos, emails and other online files, but when I’m no longer around, that’s going to change. My nearest and dearest may well want to be able to grab copies of my online photos just as they would with regular printed photos.
My Gmail account is home to not only personal emails, but also important legal documents, insurance paperwork and other information that someone if likely to need access to. It would be foolhardy to share my password with anyone so they would be able to log into my account ‘just in case’ so the Inactive Account Manager is a good alternative.
Creating Your Online Will
You can jump straight to the Settings section of your account, or you can head to a Google site, click your user image to the upper right of the page and then select Account. In the Account Management section towards the bottom of the page, click the link after the tactfully worded ‘Control what happens to your account when you stop using Google’ text.
The Inactive Account Manager basically gives you two options. If your Google account remains unused for a particular length of time – anything from three to twelve months – you can choose to have the data automatically deleted, or you can opt to have it sent to someone you would like to share it with.
Start by clicking the Setup button to start configuring your preferences.
Options and Safeguards
Configuring the Inactive Account Manager is a multi-step process. The first thing you’ll need to do is to provide contact details so that you can be alerted before any changes are made to your account.
If you head off on a lengthy holiday, your account could be inactive for a few months, but by receiving alerts via mobile or another email address you will be able to step in and stop the deletion of your account if you do not want it to go ahead.
Adding a mobile number means that you will receive an alert via SMS when your account has been inactive for the length of time you specific, and you’ll need to confirm your number by entering the verification code that is sent out to you.
You can then choose how long Google should wait before your account times out. Choose between 3, 6, 9 and 12 months as your ultimate cut-off date and reminder will be configure for between one and three months beforehand to double check that your account is genuinely inactive for whatever reason.
Sharing and Deleting
You may want to ensure that your online legacy lives on. You can do this by opting to share your Google data with up to ten people once your account has been inactive for the specified length of time.
Enter the email addresses you’d like to notify when your account has been inactive and then indicate whether or not you’d also like to share data. Select the data you’d like to share and if you’d like to configure SMS notifications you’ll also need to provide and verify a mobile number.
The other options Google make available to you are setting up an automatic response that will be sent out to anyone who emails your inactive account, and the choice of deleting your account once the data you have chosen has been shared.
The final thing you’ll need to so is enable Inactive Account Manager – if you don’t do this, none of the choices you have made will be actioned.
Preparing for one’s inevitable death is not something that is going to fill many people with glee, but it is something that those of us who have grown up in the digital age now need to consider.
Spend a few minutes putting a plan in place and you and rest safe in the knowledge that your data will either be shared or will vanish according to your wished when you are no longer around to control it.