Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Gmail Email Address Recovery
July 5, 2011 9:11 PM   Subscribe

Gmail account recovery. Please help. Long winded story inside.

So I created a gmail account back in 2009. Forgot the password, and tried the many password reset options. Now 2 years later on the password reset recovery page it does not recognize the email address as a user name in it's system.

Some background info if it helps before I forgot the password. I don't believe I sent many emails while I had the account. I may have transferred all of my contacts from my other account into this new account.

So I tried creating a new email account with this same address. It won't let me do this either.

The reason I am trying so hard to get the account back is that it is my firstname.lastname@gmail.com

My name is unique to only me, (no one else has the same name) and would like to prove my identity to get this account back. Currently I have firstinitial.lastname@gmail.com but would like to recover the address with my full first name.

Who can I contact at google to get my account back / how to go about this the right way / is this possible to recover?
posted by MechEng to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
[T]he password reset recovery page it does not recognize the email address as a user name in it's system.

That raises a bit of a flag in the back of my mind. As far as I can remember, Gmail ignores dots in addresses when delivering email (e.g., mail to y.o.u.r.n.a.m.e@gmail.com and yourname@gmail.com both end up in the same place), but does care about periods when it comes to logging in. Namely, they must be identical to what you entered when initially signing up.

For instance, if you signed up as yourname@gmail.com, but are trying to recover your.name@gmail.com, the system might give you an error like you described.

As an aside, actually getting in touch with someone at Google who is both motivated and empowered to resolve these sorts of things is, to put it mildly, extraordinarily difficult. Gmail is (generally) a free product, and you aren't Google's customer so much as you are a stream of data that they can sell to their actual customers (advertisers). The incentives just aren't there to implement robust service and support resources for users of products like Gmail. This might be a good time to look into registering your own domain so that you can directly control your email, versus relying on a platform that has very little room for recourse when it fails.
posted by SemiSophos at 10:09 PM on July 5, 2011


I believe after nine months of inactivity that Google may delete your account at their discretion. Have you tried to register the email address again?
posted by banannafish at 10:09 PM on July 5, 2011


It's pretty much a lost cause.

I don't work for Google but have, for 6 years now, been living with someone who does.
posted by halogen at 11:23 PM on July 5, 2011


I don't know if they actually do this, but I could understand if Google deletes accounts but never allows the username to be used again. Consider associating your GMail address with your MetaFilter account, and then forgetting about it. The GMail expires, gets deleted, someone you've upset on MetaFilter grabs it and now they get the password reset emails.

Or what about your phone service.

Or your online banking.

The possibilities for shenanigans are endless.
posted by sbutler at 11:52 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


That raises a bit of a flag in the back of my mind. As far as I can remember, Gmail ignores dots in addresses when delivering email (e.g., mail to y.o.u.r.n.a.m.e@gmail.com and yourname@gmail.com both end up in the same place), but does care about periods when it comes to logging in.

That is incorrect. I signed up with firstname.lastname but log in using firstnamelastname.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:17 AM on July 6, 2011


That is incorrect. I signed up with firstname.lastname but log in using firstnamelastname.

While this is true, it may be the case that you can't do the opposite. Or it may be the case that it wasn't true in the past, when the user originally signed up for the account.

As for the OP's question, I'd second SemiSophos' suggestion to just register a domain - your name might be available as a domain - and then use Google Apps to set up Gmail for your domain. You can actually do both of those at once through Google's Apps registration interface, but you might prefer to do them separately.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:22 AM on July 6, 2011


I lost access to my whole-name Gmail account and I thought it was a lost cause, but I filled out this form called the Account Recovery Exam, got a follow-up email with more questions and was given access the day after I responded to the follow-up email. Good luck!
posted by kate blank at 7:05 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I got locked out of a Gmail account a while ago, and I filled out the Account Recovery form kate blank mentioned but was denied. As far as I can tell there is absolutely no way to talk to anyone or do anything else if the form doesn't work. I ended up getting back in more or less by accident, I logged into my old YouTube account, and when I entered my YouTube password it logged me into my Google Account that the Gmail account was in.

Also if you want to have Gmail for your webmail but don't want to end up losing your email address from something like this, I highly recommend buying your own domain name and signing up for Google Apps. Once you set it up it's just like Gmail and if you ever want to switch from Google to some other email provider you are free to do so.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:45 AM on July 6, 2011


While this is true, it may be the case that you can't do the opposite.

From the Gmail Help:

Gmail doesn't recognize dots as characters within usernames, you can add or remove the dots from a Gmail address without changing the actual destination address; they'll all go to your inbox, and only yours. In short:

homerjsimpson@gmail.com = hom.er.j.sim.ps.on@gmail.com
homerjsimpson@gmail.com = HOMERJSIMPSON@gmail.com
homerjsimpson@gmail.com = Homer.J.Simpson@gmail.com

All these addresses belong to the same person. You can see this if you try to sign in with your username, but adding or removing a dot from it. You'll still go to your account.

posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:44 AM on July 6, 2011


Huh, I could've sworn that they cared about dots when logging in, at least few years ago. I must be outdated / mistaken.
posted by SemiSophos at 8:59 AM on July 6, 2011


I'm still denied by the recovery exam. The problem is I started making the account to set up as a more professional one for sending resumes. Forgot the password after about a month. Believe I might of transferred my contact list, but lost access to the account summer of 2009. And remember little from using it for a short time period.

Tried the recovery exam again, now to wait 24 hours and see, I have my doubts as I have little to no information filled into the recovery exam because it was so long ago.
posted by MechEng at 9:17 PM on July 6, 2011


There were questions on the recovery exam that I couldn't answer either, but knowing that you can't answer them is sufficient. For example, you know that you haven't used it since summer 2009. Hooray! They can verify when the account was last accessed. They also ask questions about who you frequently email and for me, the answer was that I had sent almost no email from the account. That was also fine.
posted by kate blank at 7:41 AM on July 7, 2011


no luck, but thanks for the help.
posted by MechEng at 7:49 PM on July 17, 2011


« Older How should I try to fight this...   |  I have 2 nights and 3 partial ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.