Old, unused email accounts put your security and privacy at risk. With a compromised account, someone can impersonate you, search for personal information, or try the same password on your other accounts.
The more unmonitored (and forgotten) accounts you have out there, the more doors into your personal information there are for sketchy people to walk through. This is especially true if you created accounts years ago without good password hygiene.
So take a few minutes to recall, locate and delete email addresses you’re no longer using. Some accounts may be easy to remember, but to ensure you cover all the email services you’re connected to, try the following steps:
- Google old usernames and email addresses.
- Check Facebook, Google and other apps for any connected accounts.
- Search saved logins in Chrome (or your preferred browser or password manager).
Before you delete old accounts, check if there are any connected services or data files that you’ll lose access to. If you terminate your Yahoo account, for example, you’ll also lose your Flickr photos. If there’s anything you want to save, make sure you download it or move it to another storage service.
When you have everything saved, follow these steps to delete email addresses from major service providers.
How to delete a Gmail account
You can get rid of one or more Gmail email addresses without deleting your entire Google user profile. Here’s how:
- Go to your Google account settings page (to make sure you’re logged into under the correct username, click the profile icon in the upper right corner).
- Select “Data and personalisation” from the far-left menu.
- Scroll to “Download, delete, or make a plan for your data” and select “Delete a service or your account”.
- Click “Delete a service” on the next page.
- You’ll be asked to log into your Google account again to verify your account — from there, you can download any data you’ll need before selecting the Bin icon next to the service you want to delete.
- Enter another email address you’ll have access to in the dialog box and click “Send verification email”.
- Click the link in the verification email and follow the prompts to finalise the deletion process.
This permanently deletes your messages and will send a delivery failure notice to anyone who tries to email you.
How to delete a Yahoo account
Unlike Google, Yahoo deletes all accounts associated with your login in addition to your email. Follow these steps:
- Navigate to Yahoo’s “Delete user” page and log in.
- Read the account termination information and click “Continue delete my account”.
- Enter your email address and click “Yes, terminate this account”.
You can recover a deleted Yahoo account within 90 days (and up to 180 days in some countries).
How to delete an AOL account
Oh, AOL. If you’ve put your nostalgia for AIM permanently behind you, here’s how you can delete your AOL account:
- Sign into AOL’s account termination page.
- From there, the steps will look similar to Yahoo (both are owned by Verizon).
How to delete a Hotmail account
To delete a Hotmail email, you’ll have to shut down your whole Microsoft account and all the services associated with it. This includes Skype usernames, MSN emails and Outlook emails. Here’s how:
- Go to the “Close your account” page and sign in using the account you want to delete.
- Click “Next”, then read the list on the page and check the boxes to acknowledge that you’ve read each item.
- Go to the “Select a reason” dropdown menu and choose why you’re closing your account.
- Hit “Mark account for closure”.
Your account will be permanently deleted after 60 days.
If you have an old school or work email address, confirming that it’s been deleted might be a bit more difficult. Companies and educational institutions often remove accounts within a certain time period after employees and students leave, but if you’re concerned about the status of an old email address, contact a network administrator.