Google account suspended: A post mortem

A few weeks back, I had my Google account disabled. If you're anything like me, your first reaction is a lackadaisical, "That sucks." Then the realization of what that really means starts to creep in to your gut, making you nauseous. No more email. No more iGoogle homepage. No more feed reader. Next year's vacation spots you had mapped out in a comparison chart on Google Docs? Yep, those are gone too. More Nausea.

This was a window into what I was feeling on July 13th when my Google account was suspended. I made a few shouts on Twitter1, messaged a few friends on IRC to see if they could help. After an amazing outpour of support from friends both known and otherwise, my account was reactivated on July 15th.

For those keeping track, that's 2 days without access to personal email. Even worse than that, any attempts to email my address returned an error stating my account was suspended. This wasn't a huge deal for me, but it was definitely a time to do a gut check.

For those of you who, like me, rely on Google for a large number of your daily activities, there are a few things you should really check into, so you aren't wondering "What's Next?" like I was.

Are you backing up your email?

While gmail isn't likely to go under, when your account is disabled, you no longer have access to your 6 years (in my cases) of email. I think we often forget just how much information is in old emails. The document you're supposed to get notarized for health insurance is back logged and starred from 2 months ago. The proof that people owed me money for some service rendered. Correspondence with a family member who's died and you'll not talk to again. poof. All gone.

What about the rest of your stuff?

If you keep pertinent information in Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Analytic, AdSense, etc.. you should ensure you're keeping a separate record of it all, else you could possibly lose access to that as well.

Set up an email account outside of gmail.

If you want, this can merely serve as a front to your gmail account. The important thing here is that if something goes wrong and you lose access to gmail, you can redirect the email somewhere where you can access it.

The basic idea here is that you likely depend on google for a lot. For those of you who rely on the new Voice service, even more so. Its worth taking an evaluative look at which services you depend on and either make peace with the fact that Google owns your life, or provide backup and alternatives… or both.

_While there was no mention from Google as to why my account was suspended, I've surmised that it was due to a typo in a fetchmail script which was causing it to update too often._

Footnotes:

1

first , second , and third