Is the Gmail Trash is a safe place to keep messages (“just in case”)? Find out here how long Gmail keeps emails (in your Inbox, Archive and in the Trash and Spam labels) before it deletes them forever.
First, Grounds for Shedding Skin
Instead of throwing your coffee grounds out of the window and onto your plants, why not flush them down the drain?
If you scrub and rub your skin with the edgy black particles before, they will take dead skin with them in droves: coffee grounds are a great exfoliant—and almost always at hand.
The emails you have deleted and the spam Gmail has identified will eventually go down a metaphorical drain as well. You do have some time to brew coffee, though, before Gmail starts to flush:
How Long Does Gmail Keep Emails?
Gmail keeps emails forever with two exceptions—and one condition.
The condition is that
- you must use (not necessarily access) your Gmail account at least once every 2 years (see below)
- or use paid Google One storage.
Messages that will be deleted even if you do keep using your account are:
- messages that have been deleted and moved to the Trash folder and
- emails that have been identified or marked as junk and moved to the Spam folder.
How Long Does Gmail Keep Emails in Trash and Junk?
Gmail will keep messages for you to recover from the Spam and Trash labels
- for 30 days
at least. Any email that has been in either folder for more than 30 days will be deleted permanently.
Note: After this period, deleted emails will still be retained on Google servers for a certain period; see below.
This Is How Long Gmail Keeps Emails, Trash and Junk: FAQ
When does Gmail start counting days for emails in “Trash” and “Spam”?
Gmail starts counting days (up to the 31 that will trigger automatic deletion) as soon as a message is placed in the Spam or Trash labels.
The action that moved the message there does not matter. The counter starts whether
- you deleted an email or marked it as spam,
- a Gmail rule moved it to Trash or
- the Gmail spam filter identified it as junk.
Is there a way to reset the auto-delete counter?
To reset the counter and keep the email for 30 days more:
- Undelete the message or recover it from Spam.
- Delete the message again or mark it as junk respectively.
Does Gmail delete old emails in folders other than “Trash” and “Spam”?
Gmail will automatically delete only messages from the Trash and Spam labels. All other emails are only deleted when you or a filter command it.
When you access your Gmail account in an email program, it is possible that you only see a certain number of messages. The hidden emails are not deleted, though, and you can configure Gmail to show you all messages even in an email client.
What counts as using Gmail so my emails will not be deleted?
Any Gmail activity counts, including:
- opening Gmail on the web or using the Gmail apps for iOS and Android,
- reading or sending mail using an email program and Gmail IMAP or Gmail POP access and
- setting up email forwarding in Gmail (and having it forward emails continuously).
How long does Gmail keep deleted emails on Google servers?
Even after deleted emails have been removed from the Trash folder, copies will be retained on Google servers:
- It typically takes 2 months for emails to be finally and irrevocably deleted from regular Gmail servers, and
- deleted emails will be kept in (additionally encrypted) backups in Google servers for around 6 months.
So, deleted emails will be present it some form on Google servers for around 7 months after you have moved them to the Trash folder.
(How long does Gmail keep emails updated June 2022)