Likelihood of Google Account Lockout

Monday January 30, 2023 — oldfolio

My primary Google account dates back to 2007. I have never been locked out of it. Nonetheless, I have always hesitated to make it my primary online identity for fear of being locked out. I know three people personally who have been locked out. All three cases involved forgotten passwords on accounts where 2FA had not been set up. Two of them eventually got back into their accounts. Unlike my acquaintances, I do have 2FA set up: multiple hardware keys, TOTP authenticator app, backup codes. My account password is stored offline in a KeePassXC database. I don’t think I am as vulnerable to an account lockout as my acquaintances. Yet the fear of lockout still haunts me sufficiently that I cannot bring myself to use that account as my primary online identifier.

So, I was grateful to Jeff Kaufman for digging through lockout reports and trying to determine, “How Likely is Losing a Google Account?” He concludes that if you take a few simple precautions (such as activating 2FA), you are very unlikely to be locked out -- sufficiently unlikely that it is probably safe to use a Gmail address as a primary online identifier. The psychological impact of Hacker News stories about account lockouts continues to weigh heavily on me -- perhaps irrationally so -- and I am still not using a Google account as a primary identifier.

Tags: tech-trends