Losing access to a Gmail account is one of the most stressful technology problems a person can have. After all, our Gmail accounts are often the most important accounts in our lives, carrying crucial info for work, social, and home life.
If you’re unable to get into your Gmail account, whether it’s been compromised by suspicious logins or you simply forgot your password, this guide is for you.
This article will provide you with a step-by-step walkthrough of what you need to do if you want to recover your Google account.
What Can You Use to Recover a Gmail Account?
Google allows users several different ways to regain access to their Google Accounts; one of these pieces of information may be all that you need.
Why does Google need information from you?
Google needs to determine your identity before they let you reset your password and give you access to your account. If they didn’t do that, Gmail accounts would be laughably easy to steal.
So, what information do you need to recover a Gmail account?
Account recovery varies case by case, but these are the 5 things you should try to have ready when you go to recover your account:
- The last password that you can remember
- Recovery phone number
- Recovery email address
- The device (laptop, tablet, or mobile phone) that you use often for your Gmail account
You don’t have to have all of these things, but having at least a few of them makes getting your Gmail account back much, much easier.
How to Recover a Gmail Account: The Basics
If you’re unable to log into your Google Account, the first thing you need to do is try to reset your password by heading to Google Account Recovery.
Google will ask you a series of different questions, starting with, obviously, what your email address is:
Then, depending on what information Google has available, you’ll be able to verify your identity in one of the ways described above. The faster they verify it, the faster your account back:
If Google cannot verify your identity, you are going to have a very hard time getting back into your Google Account.
Recovering a Google Account With a Recent Password
The first question Google will ask you when you try to access your account is what password you remember using last:
This is helpful for people who changed their passwords recently; if Google recognizes that you at least know what your old password is, they’ll trust that you are actually you.
If you get it right, Google will let you choose a new password right there on the spot.
Recovering a Google Account With Backup Phone or Email
If you have a recovery email address or phone number set up, simply enter it and Google will send a message with instructions to change your password:
Google and other online services rely on these backup points of contact to verify identities and prevent users from getting locked out of their accounts – so they push them pretty hard. Chances are if you haven’t set up a recovery account yet, you’ve been asked to at least once.
If you do have a recovery account set up, though, your journey ends here. You should be able to reset your Gmail password and regain control of your account.
If you don’t have a recovery account set up or you’ve lost access to those accounts as well, you’ll have to keep reading to figure out how to get your account back.
How to Recover a Gmail Account Using a Familar Device
Sometimes, even if you get the password question wrong (in this example, the password guess was intentionally wrong), you’ll still be allowed to reset your password:
The reason for this leniency from Google is that you’re attempting an account recovery on a computer that Google recognizes – another sign that they can trust you.
Google knows all the devices that you’re signed in on, and can distinguish a familiar device from an unfamiliar one. If you’re trying to log in on a computer or phone you’ve used for Gmail in the past, Google will recognize this as being your device.
Can You Recover a Gmail Account on Mobile? (iOS, Android)
No long explanations are needed here: the answer is “yes”. All of the same account recovery methods available on a desktop are available to mobile users.
Whether you’re on a Galaxy phone, an iPhone, or an iPad/Galaxy tablet, you can get your account back.
It does help if you’re recovering your account with a device that has been previously used with that account, though.
So, if you have the choice, it’s better to recover your old Gmail account on an old laptop that you used with that account than it is to try it with your new iPhone.
What Happens if You Can’t Recover Your Gmail Account?
Sometimes, try as you might, you just can’t give Google what it wants.
If you’re unable to get your account back with the account recovery process, your only option is to just try it again.
Perhaps, on your second or third try, you’ll be able to get back in.
If you’re wondering whether or not it’s possible to contact Google support for further help, prepare to be disappointed.
Google doesn’t offer online chat support or customer support over the phone, nor do they even offer an email address you can reach out to.
The only way to get your situation handled with Google is if you know someone who works there. While Google does have more than 130,000 employees, it’s not likely that everyone reading this article can “text their buddy at Google for help”.
So, if you’re unable to recover your account, you can either create a new Gmail account or just keep guessing until you get it right.
How to Recover a Deleted Gmail Account
Even though this might feel like a different situation, there is actually no difference in the way a deleted Gmail account is recovered.
If your Google account was recently deleted, you can recover it the same as a person who lost their password would:
- Head to Google Account Recovery
- Enter the information Google asks for
- Reclaim your Google Account.
The only snag?
You can only recover a deleted Google account if it’s been recently deleted. If your account was deleted a while ago, the data and information associated with it are gone, unable to be recovered.
Google doesn’t specify how long they wait before they dump the data associated with a deleted Google account, although Spanning reported in 2017 that Google had a 20-day time limit for recovering deleted accounts.
So, if you’ve deleted your Gmail account in the last few days, you’d better get to work if you want to get it back.
FAQ: Google Account Recovery
Yes – as long as you have some piece of information that Google can use to verify your identity. If you forgot the number or changed it, you should still be able to get your account back.
If no method of account recovery is successful for you, you’ll have two choices:
1. Open a new Gmail account and accept that you lost all your data.
2. Keep entering password guesses until you resort to option #1.
It’s very easy to use your connected Gmail address to recover your Facebook password, but, unfortunately, this road only goes one way.
There is no way to recover a Gmail password using Facebook; if you lose access to your Gmail account, you’ll need a phone number, recovery email, or familiar device to regain access.
In the past, like many other web-based services, Google used security questions to help people verify their identities.
However, after 2014, Google stopped using security questions. They even did a study that found security questions aren’t as helpful as you might think they are.