What to do if locked out of Gmail, and what to do now if you aren't
If you are already locked out of your Gmail account, like one of our writers recently was, the first thing to do is visit the Gmail help page that tells you what to do if you cannot access Gmail. From here, choose, "My account has been compromised" and you will be directed to the Gmail account recovery form.
The recovery form asks for very detailed information about your Gmail and Google usage in order to verify that you are actually the owner of an e-mail account. If you're already locked out, be prepared to start thinking long and hard about what Google services you use and when you started using them.
For example, when did you start using: Google Docs, Google Checkout, YouTube, Blogger and several other Google tools? You'll also need to know the account creation date, last successful login and the last password you remember.
If this sounds like a lot of info, it is. But it is in place to protect your account from being stolen using the Google account recovery tool. Luckily in this case our writer was able to get his access back, after a morning of being disconnected from his e-mail, contact lists, order numbers, financial data and more. He has taken the first step toward account safety, adding a phone number and an alternate e-mail to his account.
If you're as alarmed about losing access to Gmail as you should be, you'll want to follow these steps to make sure you can recover your account if it is compromised in the future.
First off, remember all that information we just said you would need access to? Find it and write it down someplace safe. Don't store it in your Gmail account.
Finding some of the information is a bit tricky, but thankfully Digital Inspiration has listed a few ways to help you find the details by using the search operators in Gmail. It is much easier to figure out the five people you e-mail the most, your custom tags, who invited you to Gmail and when you started various Google services when you still have the ability to search Gmail.
In all, the process might take 15-20 minutes, but the effort will be well worth it if your account is ever compromised. While you're thinking about security, make sure you have a strong password that you don't use on other websites as your Gmail password. If you need help remembering it, check out our tips on how to remember passwords -- and what to do if you can't.