Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How to regain your Google account

I recently lost my Google account for a while and everything associated with it. I never realized how ingrained services like gmail and reader were to my daily routine. We put an awful lot of trust in free services that exist in the cloud. Should we? Google, in the end, owes us nothing for these free services and could remove or charge for them at any time.

So what do you do if you lose you access? In my case it was compromised, which makes the situation even worse. Everyone on my contact list received an email that I had taken an impromptu vacation to England and had been mugged. The email had a repeat paragraph and was so otherwise poorly written that I had little worry anyone would actually believe it.

Google provides a few ways to get back into your account if it has been taken from you or you simply forgot your password:
  1. You can have your password sent to another email address you specify inside of your Google account. If you have NOT done this yet you need to do so immediately. It is not done through gmail itself. There is also an option to set a security question and your cell phone number so that a code can be sent via SMS. To access your Google Account click here.
  2. If the above does not work, and likely if the account has been compromised it will not, there is the password recovery form option. This will ask you a series of questions about your account. To access the automated password recovery form, click here.
The scary thing here is if both of the above options fail then you are out of luck. There is no one to call and no one to email directly.

If you feel a little more secure about regaining your account if you lose it be sure to keep track of the following things:
  1. The email addresses of the top five people that you send email to.
  2. Five of the folder/labels that you have created inside of the web interface if any.
  3. The date that you signed up for gmail
  4. If you use other services such as blogger, docs or reader it can help to know when, at least approximately, that you signed up for those services.
The addresses and folder/label information is especially important. I was unable to get my account back until I remembered some of the folder/label names that I had in my account.

Lastly, when you are logged into gmail at the bottom of the screen there is a line which shows the current accesses to your account. If you click on detail you can see all the recent connections.

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