Google has enveloped our online lives in some way or the other. You cannot shy away from the fact that at least one of the tools you use online has Google written over it. Gmail, Orkut, Reader, Google+, Google Now and so on – I guess it is safe to say that Google controls most of your online assets. With the way we are involved in the internet – most of us use it for at least 12-15 hours a day (if not more!) – we value our online persona as much as we value our physical world assets. I know I do!
Have you ever wondered what would happen to your precious blog or your dear gmail account with all important business mails or even your YouTube channel having a thousand views per day if something happens to you? What will happen to all the data you collected with so much effort and love over all these years? Well, Google has come up with a solution for that too – Google Inactive Account Manager! It will take care of your online data according to your wish, or your last “will”. And for that you need to fill out some information which will direct Google to process your data once you “stop using Google” – this is Google’s way of saying “once you are no more”.
How to protect your online data?
Go to your Google account settings page. You will see a link for setting up your inactive account process under the text “Control what happens to your account when you stop using Google“.
Once you click on the link, the next page will show the options you have to process your data.
1. Alert Me
You have an option to get an email or text message from Google when your account is about to go inactive.
You can either type in your own mobile number, or you can give the number of your close family member/friend/relative whom you think should be among the first to receive the news of your inactive account. One email will be sent out to your own account – the one which you are currently logged in. You also have an option of adding alternate email IDs if you wish to receive notifications on multiple accounts.
2. TimeOut Period
You can set a timeout period after which your account will be inactive. Currently you can setup a time period ranging from 3 months to 18 months.
If you fail to log into your Google account for the stipulated time period, Google will send the alert according to the settings saved in the “Alert Me” box, and initiate the data processing.
3. Notify Contacts and Share Data
This, from my point of view, is the most important step of this whole process. Here you can add recipients who should be made aware that your Google account is about to be made inactive. Currently you can add emails of up to 10 people, who will be notified that your account is now inactive.
Clicking on the “Add trusted contact” will open a pop-up where you can add the email address of your contact. Just below the text box, you can see a check box, which you can select if you want to share your data with that contact.
If you do intend to share the data with that contact, click Next. You will be taken to the next page, where you can select the applications whose data will be available for that contact to download for 3 months after your account goes inactive. On the right side you have to enter the contact’s mobile number, which will ensure authorized access to your data.
Click Next to go to the last page. Here you will have to enter the subject of the email message that will be sent to the contact. You also have an option to type in a message, maybe telling him/her what data needs to be downloaded. This email will be sent out to the contact once your time-out period has expired.
The next option made available to you in the Notify box is to have an auto-response for your Gmail. This surreal message will be your “out-of-office” type reply to everyone who mails you after your account has gone inactive. It will be like you are replying to them from the skies! You can think of something deep here as these will be your last words to everyone!
You can see that Google has again thoughtfully given you the option of restricting the auto-reply to the people who are in your contact list.
4. Delete Account
If you think your data can be misused behind you, there is always an option for deleting your Google account altogether. All those photos in your picasa albums, those videos in your YouTube account, those mails in your gmail account, those posts from your google+ account.. everything will be deleted. It all disappears when you do.
So this is how you can draft your last will for all your online data. Remember this is only for Google accounts and not for others. There are some of you who might think this as a waste of time – what is the need to worry about my online data if I am not here in the first place! Some might have more emotional bonding with your online profile and think of this as an elegant way to regulate your data after you “stop” using Google. I myself am planning to set this up for my own account, just in case. I am not a pessimist… but who knows what tomorrow will bring 🙂
Do you plan to use Google Inactive Account Manager? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below.
Image Credits : socialmediablazer