Since you can't bang on the front door
Few things are more frustrating than having spent most of your digital life on Google, relying on Gmail to send and receive emails, Google Drive for storage, Google Calendar for your appointments, and Google Photos for your photo archive, etc, only to get locked out of your Google account due to a forgotten password or nefarious hacker.
If you can’t get into your Google account, you could end up losing contact with loved ones, business contacts and clients, access appointments, and even miss important updates related to your use of the service or other services you’re subscribed to.
All these issues could lead to massive losses that would take time to recover from, especially since Google won’t let you back into your account for a certain number of days due to its security holds.
Thankfully, Google allows you to recover your account information, but you’ll need some information like your email address, phone number, or the date you created your account.
Why Your Google Account Is Locked
Google takes very strict measures to ensure that its products and services operate according to its security policies. If there’s any unusual or suspicious activity on your Google account, it’ll lock you out so you can’t access any of its services. It may even suspend your account temporarily to protect it from abuse or fraud.
There are some specific activities listed in Google Help Support that may result in blocked access to the service. This block may last from a minute to 24 hours, or even 30 to 40 hours depending on the type of activity detected by the system. These activities include:
- Sending a large number of emails that go undelivered
- Receiving, downloading, or deleting large amounts of mail via POP or IMAP within a short span of time
- Using your Gmail account from multiple locations or devices
- Inbox reloading issues when using your account on a web browser
- Giving access to file-storage, file-sharing, browser extensions, email analytics services, or third-party software that logs automatically into your account, which causes misleading activity without your knowledge
- Incorrectly signing into your account with the wrong password too many times.
To avoid future lockouts, avoid any of the above activities, and make sure your account is well protected to prevent potential security breaches.
How to Recover Your Google Account When It’s locked
Depending on your situation, you may need to recover your user name or your password. Follow the steps below to do both.
How To Recover Your Google Account Username
If you forgot your username or email address, use these steps to recover it.
- Go to the Google sign-in page and then click the Need help? link.
- Next, click on the Find my account link at the bottom.
- In the Forgot your username screen, choose Enter your recovery email address or Enter your recovery phone number. Enter your name, and then mark the checkbox next to I’m not a robot, and click Submit.
You’ll get an email or SMS with your username.
How To Recover Your Google Account Password
If you know your email address or username but can’t remember your password, you can reset it using these steps.
- Go to the Google sign-in page and click the Need help? link
- Type your email address and then click Next.
- Type the last password you can recall and then click Next. If you need more options to help you remember, click Try a different question and you’ll get options such as the month or year you created the account.
If you have a recovery email address, it also gives you the option to get a verification code sent to your recovery email address. If you don’t have a recovery email address, enter an email address or phone number to which the code will be sent.
- Type the code you receive, and then click Next. In the new page, type your password, and retype it to confirm. Then click Change password.
Your password has been reset. You can try signing in again. Still locked out of your Google account? Try the rest of the solutions below.
How To Recover A Google Account With Two-Step Verification
Two-step verification adds another layer of protection for your Google account. However, it’ll require more than just a password, as you’ll need either another code or action to sign into your account.
If you enabled two-step verification for your account and it’s now locked, the recovery process is a bit stricter. This can also make your efforts to regain access to your account more difficult if the account has been compromised by hackers, and they’ve enabled two-step verification.
If you enabled two-step verification when you created or configured your account, you’ll see another screen when you try to recover your account where you’ll enter a code via the default method – email or SMS – that you originally configured. If you can’t provide the required details, you can click on the Try another way to sign in link and you’ll get a list of all the options configured for your account.
There’s another option to Ask Google for help getting back into your account, which also leads to a different screen with more options.
Scroll down to the lower part of the screen and you’ll see the Request Google’s help link. This process is similar to the usual account recovery steps you’d take, but you’ll be asked more questions based on whatever options you had configured for your account before.
If you provide sufficient information, you’ll see the Thanks! We’re on it message. But if you don’t give sufficient proof of ownership, you’ll get the Google couldn’t verify message instead.
It may take 3-5 business days for Google to conclude its investigation. Once that’s done, they’ll notify you through the contact address you provided. Your request may be denied though, in which case you’ll have to repeat the process by giving more accurate answers to the questions than what you gave before, or Google won’t unlock your account.
Note: If you’ve been locked out of a G Suite account, the only way to reset your password and gain back access is by contacting the Google Apps administrator for the domain.
Avoid Getting Locked Out Of Your Account
It’s easy to lose access to your Google account and there’s also little recourse to get it back because there’s no clear system or appeals process to navigate such a problem. This only leaves you out in the cold with limited or no possibility of getting help, especially if you have no special contacts at Google.
There are ways to prevent this problem, but it means not leaving anything to chance, especially when it comes to login credentials. Some important tips:
- Using a password manager to keep your digital life from hanging on remembering a password. If your browser’s password manager doesn’t help, try one of the best password manager services that’ll store your logins securely.
- Using the Google Authenticator app, which allows you to confirm your logins using a randomly generated number
- Updating your recovery phone number and email address
- Setting up more ways to sign in and prove that you own the account such as setting up phone prompts, storing backup codes to get into your account, and setting up security keys
- Following on the last suggestion, you should also find out who your most frequently contacted contacts are, when you created your Google account, what your recovery email address is, etc, as they will ask those types of questions in order to verify your ownership.
Were you able to get back your Google account using the solutions above? Share your experience in a comment below.