Google account suddenly blocked without warning

So this is what happened to me on Friday. I’m out doing the usual things, heading to school, dropping off the kids, etc, and while waiting to pick someone up at a local filling station, I notice the little warning triangle in the notification bar of the phone: Some attention required to my google account.

So I tap it, and it goes through the usual stuff: You have been logged out, log back in, do the whole 2FA dance, and then it hits me with this message: Account is blocked for spamming. Would you like to appeal?

Well, of course I appealed, but that takes at least two days. Working days I assume.

I certainly wasn’t using my email account for any such activities. There were no notifications of logins or attempted logins. The only hole I punched for smtp access, is so my printer/scanner combo can email pdfs to me and my wife. So I have zero idea of why this happened.

I’ve had this account for about 17 years now. There is a LOT in there. Almost surprisingly, the damage isn’t too bad. None of the really important stuff (money) was impacted by this at all.

Some things I could get back easily. The majority of accounts I have all over the place, were not much of a hassle. The accounts that had a backup method (phone number, second email address) took only seconds to recover. I had to send supporting documentation to LinkedIn to get that one back, but it took literally only minutes.

The things I could not get back (so far), are:

  1. I have my kids’ google accounts linked to mine. That’s gone now.
  2. I lost a very large part of my phone’s address book, which was stored on my google account.
  3. I had to email countless people (mostly people I owe money) to resend bills to the new address.
  4. I had to email both my kids’ schools to update those records.
  5. I lost apps that I had bought on Google Play. Thankfully… not very much. Basically I lost Minecraft. The kids rarely play it these days. Had it been two days later (I bought two expensive apps for car diagnostics), the damage would have been significantly worse.
  6. I lost access to the account that I use for virtual hosting. I’m in the middle of some paperwork to get it back. I will probably succeed in this one.
  7. I lost all of my YouTube subscriptions, quite possible video material I uploaded as well (if not yet, then soon).
  8. There were some letters my father had sent me over the years, that I was holding on to. I can opt to download all the data (it’s multiple gigabytes), which I will probably do if the appeal fails.

The reason for writing this up, please (for the love of all that is holy), don’t use a free Gmail account as your main account. Make sure you back things up with a phone number or a second email account. Ideally, use a different email account which you register as a “business account” on google (and then simply don’t do the mail migration part). Keep email entirely separate from your other google activities.

Google didn’t care that this account is 17 years old and had years of email in it. They didn’t care that I had been a good citizen for that entire time. They didn’t give me a chance to rectify whatever might have gone wrong, if anything. They could have blocked the sending of email (that was the complaint, right?) instead of blocking the entire account, but they did not. It was a very heavy-handed response that did more to help whatever attack there might have been on my account than to help me (who is supposed to be the customer, right?) to repair it.

It didn’t even stop me from using their services. I simply went right ahead and registered a new account, I really had no choice. Some apps won’t work without one. All they did was cause me a lot of lost time, lost data, and even some lost money.

In my book, Google is now more evil than Microsoft.


Thanks for heads up…crap to have that happening

In my book, Google is now more evil than Microsoft

…include Meta there as well

scary, even more so as my google account is also central to my online existence, and not easy t simply undo.

It might help if you’re a paid account. I think using a free account might have been part of the issue. They make it so easy though: It took me years to get even close to the 15GB limit on the free account.

Somewhat strangely, although I can’t say I am not angry about this, I feel almost at peace. It is a chance to start over.

The last hurdle is migrating the Nintendo account without losing the games. There’s quite a bit of money in there. The account still works, and maybe that is how it must be, but now they cannot email me.

I subscribe to a 2TB Google drive, need to check under which account that is… and how the accounts are linked together.
I replicate (rsync) the important documents and photos from my TrueNAS to my google drive.

Went for my own domain and hosting many years ago. Don’t look back. Separate addresses for certain things and google for the non-critically stuff. Lots of storage to use as well.

The cheapest hosting package on ie Afrihost is also an option for e-mail

I run 2 domains through Google also.
I have 3 email address/separate accounts.
My email and domains sit with georgelza, I then have tinman_alarm…@ for alarm system and home automation (this is also where my 2TB storage sit) and a 3rd account for some oddities.
All paid via my account, the 2nd and 3rd is configure to recover through the primary.
The primary is recovered via a hotmail account.

quickly checked, I got a GoogleOne account, with my wife and kids defined as family members, in addition to the tin man_alarm…@ account.


happened to me about 12-14 years ago as well, lost it all. they didn’t even bother responding.


Sorry to hear about your woes Plonk.

But I am surprised you got caught, being in the IT industry and all. I have multiple GMail accounts … crosslinked and all that, Authenticating and all that too. But none of them store anything critical.

Cause I know of GMail and their antics/woes.

Dang man, any free account, WTSHTF you are on your own … it is free you know.

Since forever I have been a M$ man.
Since Office 365, seeing the mail is on their servers, awesome as it is, I thought this is cool, but “what if?”

End result: I run Outlook locally with an exact copy on the 365. Took forever to sync the two when I moved over to 365.

Also, over the years I have seen people, IT guys the worst using it for personal and business, storing a ton of stuff, free or very cheap, on the cloud … and losing it.

I have HDD backing up stuff locally. Plug in the drive, and sync it … alternative drives too, for ransomware attacks

The bottom line: When it is free or very cheap … WTSHTF you are on your own … it is free you know.

EDIT: Sorry man … but struggle to feel sympathy. Rooky mistake. :rofl:

EDIT2: And if someone is an Apple fan … has happened there too … guy losts everything when his main email was blocked.

If it is on the web … you are at risk. Finish en klaar.

You need to remember, I’ve had that account 17 years. When I got it… it was still invite only. No work stuff ever went through there. It’s the sort of thing that creeps up on you.

I’m actually happy to report that the damage is minimal. As said earlier, no money was ever in danger. My lax attitude (for someone in IT!) actually wasn’t all that lax. With a few exceptions, I did most things right.

At the moment, the loss of the phone book is probably the biggest irritation. Whatsapp is now just a list of numbers. I’ve begun adding people back one by one.

The other one that got away (so far), is the Nintendo account. The email was never verified. Nothing told me it needed to be verified. It is made deliberately easy to create the account and buy games on it, straight from the console itself. Without a verified email address, I can’t do a thing. Hopefully their support will get on it. The account is not dead: I must just never lose the password now, because I have no way of recovering it. Games cannot be transferred to another account either. Again, there’s probably about R2000 worth of games in there. At least one was a gift, and would have to be re-bought. Can’t punish the kid for my mistakes.

Not the end of the world, but still enough to hurt.

Yeah, that is a pain … yes, my phone uses Gmail accounts as you need that being Andriod phone

But Google needs no info on who I know.

So my contact list is linked to Outlook/365 … it is backed up locally and on the web and my phone can access it.

Lost it once … Now I have an infrequently updated CSV copy at times stored on the PC, also backed up.

My mother … she has a printed contact list in her handbag. I kind of like that.

Just a few habits I formed over the decades, to never trust the web, making it dumbed down to not think of backing stuff up. Press the button and walk away. Always save stuff in the same places … locally that is.

We will lose stuff on the web, or go through a lot of effort to get it back IF that is possible.

Glad you got off relatively scott-free. :+1:

Hope others read of your experience and take sincere note.

that might be a good summary - the web, nebulous, no face, no name, no allegiance, no responsibility, ‘free’- agent… through the years various web related ‘skakels’ like androids and agents like ms & google and yes, even linux related ‘safe’ software have contributed [i personally am also one of those stupid links] to my chaotic contacts kist of 20k plus people and between them they even manage to mix up the phone numbers even after i spend hours editing same - the feeling of relative freedom

of somehow getting out of it is indeed a wonderful experience but for its short life-span, as we soon find we can hardly operate in this world without being enslaved to the tentacles of the web… oh excuse me for a moment, an alarm message from my inverter wifi dongle just popped us - delivered to me courtesy of the internet :rofl:

One red flag about a paid Google account (we use these in our businesses), is that they use custom domains eg.

One thing a Gmail account is very safe for is domain hijacking. So for an account that you want to be 100% sure nobody is ever going to gain control of by hijacking the domain, is a good choice.

So, my personal account is a custom domain on paid Google :

But for all things that are security related, I use my account as the login. So that account is only ever used for OTPs and the like and never for correspondence / personal contact.

The other thing the account has in its favour (unless I’m missing a trick here) is that YouTube Premium / Family plan is only available

Did they never reinstate it?

I’m appealing a second time. This time with a less irate motivation. If that fails, I’ll accept that I lost.

This is a good reminder to do something about free gmail / google accounts… What are good paid alternatives for cloud email where you are not at the whim of a Google?

The usual recommendations are protonmail or fastmail.

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A domain and hosting is not the cheapest but gives you a whole bunch of other benefits. Mine is R2k per year and 100GB of storage as well as 100 email addresses (I use them for myself and family)

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GoDaddy has an option with 10GB storage, for R17/month, paid annually.

Of course GoDaddy is another big faceless corporate, but paired with a domain that you are the registrant of, you are not tied to them.