Will Google 2 Step lock me out?
April 18, 2014 3:45 AM   Subscribe

I have moved from Argentina back to the UK. Whilst there I set up my Google account with 2-Step Verification using my Argentinian phone number. Now back in the UK I no longer have access to that phone and as I unpacked I realised I threw away the notebook in which I jotted down the emergency codes in the move. Am I screwed?

I access my gmail through Sparrow on a MacBook and through Mail on an iPad and both still work. I have also accessed a document in my Google Drive without problems but I'm concerned that if I access my account or Gmail through a browser I will get asked for the 2nd Step and I'll be unable to provide it.

I do have a secondary email registered with the account and I don't yet have a phone to add a new number.

What will happen if I try to log in to Gmail and will I be able to resolve this?
posted by jontyjago to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Did you ever log in via the browser on your Macbook after you enabled two step verification? If you did, you may have clicked the "don't ask me again on this computer" box. If so, it will log you in without requiring the second step, and you can go in and make changes to your settings.

If you try, and you get the page requesting the second step, you will be presented with this option on that page: "Problems receiving your code?" When you click that, you then are presented with three options:
  • Call your primary phone: (***) ***-****
  • Use a backup code
  • I need Google's help getting back into my account (For security reasons, this may take 3-5 business days)
It looks like you'll need to select the third option.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:08 AM on April 18, 2014

You should be able to log into Gmail via the web interface and disable the 2-step verification, or generate a new set of codes (I'd do the latter). From Gmail, click on your profile picture in the upper-right corner, then on 'Account', then 'Security', then under 2-step verification click 'Settings'. You'll probably have to re-enter your password, but assuming you validated that computer (using 2-step verification) at some point in the recent past, it shouldn't ask you for the code again.

From there, you can add your new phone number, remove the dead one, and display your backup codes so you can print them out again.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:23 AM on April 18, 2014

I have also accessed a document in my Google Drive

If you did this via a browser, then that computer+browser will probably still have access to your google account, and you can go into it and generate new one-time codes, or disable two factor temporarily.

It won't hurt to try and fail to login - i.e. be asked for the two-step code - as it won't disable your account or email access if you don't have it, so it's definitely worth trying to get in via safari on your ipad and whatever is your standard browser on your macbook.

Without the backup codes and access to the only registered phone number, if none of your browsers get in without prompting, you'll need to use the 'google help' method and get it reset manually, which will take a few days while they verify it's actually you.

For future, it'd be worth adding the google authenticator app to your ipad (and any future smartphone) as an alternative way of generating the two-factor login number, and use the 'don't ask me again on this computer' option on your macbook browser to make sure you have a pre-authorised method of getting in in addition to phone calls/sms/authenticator. I also have two phone numbers on there, my mobile and landline. If any device does ever get lost/stolen, I have multiple routes to get in and remove that device and any app-specific passwords its using from my google account.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:59 PM on April 18, 2014

I saved a screenshot of the Google auth QR code when I set up the app on my phone. Initially, I did this so that I could add the code to other devices as well (specifically, so that my iPad or my wife's phone can be used to generate the confirmation code). I then put the QR code and a PDF copy of my account recovery codes into a password-protected zip file and saved that to a cloud storage location. None of this will help you now, but taking a similar precaution in the future might help prevent someone else from being stuck in your position.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:11 PM on April 18, 2014

It seems that the browser / computer combination had indeed remembered me so I was able to get in and disable the verification - I'll reenable it when I have a phone here. Thanks for your help!
posted by jontyjago at 12:40 AM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Glad to hear it!
posted by ocherdraco at 4:24 AM on April 19, 2014

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