Google’s Purge of Old Gmail Accounts: Understanding the 'Why', and How it Affects Your Business


By Harvey Silverman, Contributor, Golf Business | Silverback Golf Marketing 

If you haven’t heard, Google is taking drastic steps to purge inactive Gmail accounts from its system. And because this is a rather complex issue for those with large email databases, I thought artificial intelligence might be a smarter way to describe to you what’s happening. So I queried my new AI friend ChatGPT with the command, “Write an article about Google purging inactive Gmail accounts.” ChatGPT’s response is in italics, with grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure corrections made by my other AI friend, Grammarly Pro.


Google is currently taking steps to clean up and streamline its services, and one noticeable action is the purge of old Gmail accounts that have been inactive for two or more years, beginning Dec. 1, 2023. 

This has raised concerns among users who may wonder why Google is taking such measures and what implications this has for their email databases. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind Google’s decision, the potential impact on users, and what steps individuals and businesses can take to protect their email databases.

Security and privacy concerns primarily drive Google’s decision to purge old Gmail accounts. Dormant accounts may become vulnerable to unauthorized access, hacking attempts, or other security breaches. By deactivating inactive accounts for an extended period, Google aims to enhance the overall security of its platform and protect user data.

Managing and storing data for inactive accounts can be resource-intensive for Google. By removing unused accounts, the company can optimize its infrastructure, improve system performance, and allocate resources more efficiently. This benefits Google and its active user base by ensuring a smoother, more responsive email service.

Inactive accounts can also become targets for spammers and other malicious actors. By purging old accounts, Google reduces the risk of these accounts being exploited for spamming or other forms of abuse. This proactive measure contributes to a cleaner and more secure email ecosystem.


So what does this mean for all of you who have worked hard for years building a customer email database and use it regularly (I hope) to communicate with those customers? 


For individuals and businesses relying on email databases, it is crucial to regularly update and manage their lists. Cleaning out inactive email addresses can help ensure communications reach the intended recipients and prevent issues associated with bouncing emails or inactive accounts.

Businesses and organizations that rely on email marketing should proactively update their contact lists, removing inactive addresses and seeking explicit consent from users to receive communications. This aligns with best practices and helps maintain a healthy sender reputation.

(On a personal level: Users who have not accessed their Gmail accounts for an extended period may find that their accounts have been deactivated. This could result in losing access to old emails, contacts, and other data associated with the account. It emphasizes the importance of regular account activity to maintain access.) Here is an article on how to save your Gmail account.


ChatGPT concludes that "Google’s move to purge old Gmail accounts is driven by a commitment to security, resource optimization, and abuse prevention. While this may inconvenience some users, it underscores the importance of maintaining active and secure online practices. For those managing email databases, regular updates, data backup, and compliance with best practices will help mitigate any potential issues arising from Google’s efforts to enhance the security and efficiency of its email service."

So now, back to human intelligence. Is this a big deal? Yes. Is there an easy solution for email marketers? I don’t think so. 

Your database is full of Gmail addresses. Gmail has over 1.8 billion users worldwide. It has a 28% market share globally and, get this, 76% U.S. market share. I checked two of my clients that use 1-2-1 Marketing’s email program. One has nearly 30,000 emails, with over 24,000 being Gmail, and another has about 20,000 emails with over 13,000 Gmail accounts. Holy Gmail domination, Batman. 

A percentage of those Gmail accounts are inactive for various reasons – people die, change jobs (many businesses use Gmail), have other email accounts they use more often, or are “burner” accounts – I guess that’s a thing. Nonetheless, you have Gmail accounts in your database that have not opened one of your emails in the past two years, and whether they are still active with Google doesn’t matter. You need to purge these from your system before they adversely affect your ability to deliver emails to active customers. 

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is easy to do. Logically, you should be able to query a search in your database for (1) addresses and (2) “have not opened since Dec. 1, 2021,” or any date you choose. I checked with 121 Marketing, my clients’ website, and email host. They successfully identified Gmail accounts that had not opened my clients’ emails in two years or more and blocked them from being used again, effectively purging them. 

I researched a couple of the big boys, Constant Contact and Mail Chimp, and could not find a specific solution on their websites. A Google search for Constant Contact found, “To identify inactive subscribers in Constant Contact, go to your Contacts tab, select All Contacts, and then select the segment that you want to clean up. Once you have identified inactive subscribers, you can either delete them or create a separate list for them.” Mail Chimp says, “There are a few ways to segment inactive subscribers in your audience. Segment email contacts by contact rating to find long-term inactive subscribers, or segment all contacts by interaction to find email or SMS contacts who haven’t opened your most recent marketing emails or text messages.” Neither one gave specific directions on how to sort by email domain. So, the process with either might not be simple, and who has the time, staffing, and patience to do that? 

The consequence of not purging email databases of inactive accounts, especially now Gmail accounts, is your bounce rate will increase, maybe substantially. When that happens, red flags start waving at ISPs (Internet Service Providers) that you might be a spammer, and your overall deliverability will decline. As ChatGPT told us, it’s about maintaining a “healthy sender reputation.” 

Check with your email service provider and ask for help. Beg, if you must. But Google’s move to eliminate inactive Gmail accounts is a big deal, and you can only help yourself. Good luck.

(Note: If anyone finds a bulk solution to purging inactive Gmail accounts, please let me know at so I can write an updated article.)


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Harvey Silverman is a contributor to Golf Business and the proprietor of his marketing consultancy, Silverback Golf Marketing, and the co-founder of, golf’s only pay-by-hole app. Harvey authored NGCOA’s “Beware of Barter” guide and has spoken at their Golf Business Conferences and Golf Business TechCon.
** The views and opinions featured in Golf Business WEEKLY are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the NGCOA.**