What happens to your emails, photos and documents when you die? While there still hasn’t been a widely accepted solution for what to do with the online data of the recently deceased, Google has come up with a proactive option.

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The company just announced a new update for Gmail called Inactive Account Manager. It allows users to essentially push a self-destruct button should the account remain inactive for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months. Besides having their account automatically deleted, users can also choose to have a notice sent to another account or have their data passed along to a designated contact. Think of it as a will, but for email.

Also included in the data sharing option are a variety of other Google services, such as YouTube, Blogger, Google Plus, Picasa and Google Voice. If you’re a registered Gmail user you can check out the new updates simply by accessing Inactive Account Manager here.

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While death is certainly the ultimate reason for pushing the email delete button, in an age that requires us to activate new accounts for just about everything, I could also see this feature being useful for weeding out dormant accounts.

Which, if you still have a Myspace account and haven’t logged in since 2009, an inactive account manager system could offer the escape hatch you’ve been waiting for.


Photo: iStock