Here’s how to close down a Google email account.

Googlemail burst onto the scene almost 11 years ago, taking on the likes of AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail. Since surpassing the competition and changing to simply Gmail, it’s become most people’s choice of email service.

However, there are a growing number of privacy-conscious people who are prepared to ditch the service over concerns about just how much information Google collects from its users for profit.

Its practice of scanning keywords to use as data for targeted advertising is a big issue for some. If you email someone about a product, you’ll start seeing adverts for that product everywhere you go online – email someone about your new motorbike, for example – and you might begin to see adverts for motorbikes on your favourite sites.

This highlights the lack of security in most messages, whoever the provider is, as generally they are transmitted ‘in the clear’, so anyone can see the content between sending and receiving if they manage to intercept it.

Even if you’re a business that encrypts its email, if the recipient doesn’t use encryption then there is no privacy. Likewise, while Gmail uses HTTPS, if you receive an email from another provider, HTTPS won’t apply.

If you have reason to deactivate your Gmail account because you are concerned over the use of your data, you don’t use Gmail anymore, or you just don’t like it, then here is what you need to know to get rid of it…

Deleting a Gmail account 

Prior to deleting any email account, make sure all contact details are exported. You may also wish to download or forward any messages you want to keep after account deletion. 

You will need to access a desktop or laptop computer with an internet connection, as Gmail apps can’t be used to delete accounts. Also, mobile browsers are too difficult to use in these circumstances. 

In a web browser, go to Google account page: Click on the sign-in button in the top right corner and enter the details for the Gmail account you wish to delete. 

Once you have logged in, look for “Account Preferences” – this will be in the topic boxes in the centre of the web page. Then click on “Delete your account or services”.  

On the next page, click on “Delete Products”. You will be asked to enter your password again.

Before you delete your account, it’s a good idea to download a backup copy of your data. Follow the “Download Data” link to download a full copy of your Gmail messages via Google Takeout. 

When that’s backed up, click on the trash icon next to Gmail.

At this point, if you use other Google services, you will have to provide an alternative email address to continue using them. Note that Gmail may already have a secondary address you used when setting up this Gmail account.  

To continue using these services, you will have to send a verification email to this alternative email address. Once that email has been received, click on the verification link to verify the new sign-in address. Once you have signed in with this alternative email address, the deletion of your Gmail email account will be finalised. 

If you have used IMAP to access Gmail, only messages copied to a local folder will be kept. Any emails on the server and folders synchronised with the closed Gmail account will be deleted. 

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