Not directly, but you’re definitely at much higher risk.
The single most common reason people lose their Gmail/Google accounts is because they fail to set up their recovery information or keep it current.
There’s no penalty for not having it set up or not keeping it current…
…until you wish you had.
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Recovery email address for your Google account
- You should definitely configure a recovery email address.
- You should definitely periodically ensure that you can still receive email sent to your recovery email address.
Both of these steps are required should you ever need to recover access to your Google account — or you risk losing that account forever.
First I want to clarify one concept: what it means to “use” your recovery email address.
It could mean configuring a recovery address in your Google Account.
It could also mean actively using that recovery email address in addition to using your Google email. In the example shown above, it could mean my actively using the email address “email@example.com” for email of some sort in addition to having it set as the recovery address for my Google account.
Both are important, but one is more important than the other.
You need to configure a recovery email address
Not configuring a recovery email address won’t break any rules and won’t by itself cause your account to be lost.
If your account gets hacked, you forget your password, or you lose access for almost any reason, it’s your recovery email address that can be used to regain access. Without having one configured, the chances of losing your account permanently are much, much higher. I’d go so far as to say it’s almost guaranteed.
You need to be able to access that recovery email address
Your recovery email address is useless if you can’t access email sent to that address.
When you need to recover access to your Google Account, Google will send a code or a link to your recovery email address. The fact that you can access that email proves you’re the person who set that recovery address up in the first place, and thus you should be allowed access.
If you can’t get that email message, then you may not be able to recover your account.
So you need to use that recovery email account enough to make sure you can still sign into it periodically and that email sent to it can be received.
Set up a recovery email address for your Google account. Ideally, use a service other than Google. I’ve used a Hotmail (aka Outlook.com) account in my example above.
Periodically confirm you can still access that recovery account. That could be as simple as using it for other things as well or just checking in every few months to ensure you can.
Here’s a good use for your alternate email: use it to subscribe to Confident Computing, and then read it every week! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your (recovery) inbox.