Data Protection Centre/Google Workspace/How to Delete a User from Google Workspace Without Data Loss


In this article

  • Introduction
  • Steps to Take before Deleting a User from Google Workspace
  • How to Delete a User from Google Workspace?
  • The Ultimate Solution to Avoid Data Loss- Backup!
  • Best Practices for Google Security before you Delete a User

How to Delete a User from Google Workspace Without Data Loss

3 Dec 2021
12 min read

1. Introduction

According to a recent survey conducted by IS Decisions, it was found that over 36% of ex-employees in the US and UK have access to an organization’s data after they have left a job!

In the last two years, there is an increase of 47% percent in data loss and data exfiltration by former or disgruntled employees.  
Ex-employees having access to the systems and data of their former employers can pose a major security threat.  
This article explores how to delete a user from Google Workspace to eliminate or minimize data loss along with best practices for deleting Google Workspace data. 

Delete a User summary flow chart

2. Steps to Take before Deleting a User from Google Workspace

Deleting a user from Google Workspace without having a proper backup of the user’s data can lead to the loss of significant information and data. Having a third-party backup application like SysCloud can save the time of backing up an entire user’s data manually. However, if you do not have a backup solution, here is how you can save a user’s account data:

2.1. Transfer User’s Email Data

Transferring a user’s email data to another Google Workspace user is a precaution to avoid any data loss. If you delete the user’s account before transferring the email data, the data will be deleted and cannot be retrieved. A user’s email data can be transferred using two methods from the admin console:

Using data migration service: A super administrator can migrate a user’s email data to another user of the same domain using the data migration service in the Google Admin Console. 

  • Step 1: Using your super admin credentials, login to Google Admin Console. From the Admin console home page, go to Data Migration.

Data migration from Google Admin Console
  • Step 2: Click ‘Set Data Migration Up.’

Set data migration up
  • Step 3: Under Migration Source, select Google Workspace and click on start.

Migration Source
  • Step 4: Select the date from which the files are to be migrated and what data to be excluded or included.

Data migration additional settings
  • Step 5: Select the user(s) to which the email data is to be transferred.

2. Redirect the User’s Email to Another Email: Google Workspace administrators can redirect a departing user’s email to another user of the same domain. An administrator can create an address map to redirect emails to another user so that the organization would not miss any important emails. An address map is a relationship created by the administrator between the original recipient of the message and the user’s that the administrator specify.

Note: Redirecting an email to another user is different from adding a forwarding address. While forwarding messages include message history, redirecting does not affect the format of the message and appears to have come directly from the sender.

2.2. Transfer Important Files and Data

When a user is deleted from Google Workspace, all the documents, sheets, and other files that are owned by the user also get deleted. To avoid losing valuable information, any Google Workspace administrator can transfer the user’s Drive files(shared or individually owned)before the user is deleted. You can bulk transfer all the files to another user making him the owner of it.

2.3. Transfer Shared Calendar

When a user leaves a company, he might have been dealing with many company appointments that someone else from the company should now manage. Transferring a shared calendar will allow an existing user to create and edit events, respond to invitations, and receive emails about the changes in your calendar.

3. How to Delete a User from Google Workspace?

After securing your data using the above-mentioned steps, you can now delete a user from Google Workspace. By deleting a user, you revoke his/her access to Google Workspace’s services and delete all the files owned by him/her permanently. Deleting a user also recovers the annual licensing fee.

3.1. How to Delete a User(s) from Google Workspace?

  • Step 1: Log in to Google Workspace with your admin credentials and open Google Admin Console. 

  • Step 2: Go to Users from the Google Admin Console page.  

  • Step 3: From the users list, find the user or users to be deleted.

Users list
  • Step 4: Click on More → Delete User.

Delete user from Google Admin Console
  • Step 5: In the next page, select the application data of the user that you want to transfer.

Transfer data from Google Admin Console


  • Only a super admin can transfer data during user deletion. 
  • Any data that is not transferred to another user will be deleted after 20 days. 
  • You can transfer all types of content owned by the user, including documents, spreadsheets, and slides, but not Google Photos 

  • Step 6: Enter the email ID of the person you want to transfer the data. Confirm "Delete user/users."

Note: The user will be suspended until the data transfer is complete.

4. The Ultimate Solution to Avoid Data Loss- Backup!

When an employee leaves an organization, a sensible IT admin would back up the employee's data using Google Admin Console settings, delete the user, and reuse the account license. 
An even smarter admin will always be ready for this kind of scenario and will also have the backup of his entire Workspace along with the steps mentioned above. He will know that even though he can transfer the user’s files from the Google Workspace applications, he cannot restore data with their original permissions.  
Moreover, a backup solution can also facilitate cross-user restore – put back data into any user’s account, preferably the manager’s account for easy retrieval. If you have a backup application, you can reset the permissions and even transfer the file ownership to someone else. 

4.1. How can you Back up Google Workspace Data?

4.1.1. Google Takeout

Google Takeout is an effective tool for downloading data from all Google Workspace applications. To know more about how to backup Google Workspace using Google Takeout, click here

Limitations of Google’s Native Features:

  • Complicated recovery process

  • Google Takeout does not allow you to download files by someone else.

  • Google Takeout has a limit of 2 to 3 archives per day.

4.1.2. Take Google Workspace Backup using Third-Party Tools

Third-party applications like SysCloud help you to not worry about your data security anymore!  

SysCloud is a fully automated cloud to cloud backup and restore service for Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. SysCloud uses top trusted web services like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform to store data. 

Google’s native features to export and transfer a user’s data are time consuming and complicated. Whereas SysCloud offers a much more user-friendly approach to protect, back up, and transfer your data with a single click. 

SysCloud’s easy-to-use management portal lets you:

  • Search and restore files,

  • Export a copy of documents or accounts for local archiving, and

  • Run reports to monitor the status of your backups.

To learn more about how SysCloud backs up Google Workspace, click here.

5. Best Practices for Google Security before you Delete a User

To ensure seamless transfer of data as well as to protect the organizational data from illegal access, a Google Workspace admin can take the following steps before he deletes a user

5.1. Change the user’s password 

  • Step 1: Login to your Google Workspace using your admin credentials and go to Google Admin Console. 

  • Step 2: Go to users from the Google Admin Console page. 

  • Step 3: Hover over the user from the users' list and click on ‘Reset Password.’ 

Reset password
  • Step 4: In the Reset Password box, select an option, 

  • Automatically generate a password or, 

Automatically reset password
  • Create password

Create password manually

5.2. Revoke password recovery access 

Delete the user’s registered phone number and email id for recovering access to the organization account. 
  • Step 1: Login to your Google Admin Console and go to Users. 

  • Step 2: Click on the user’s name to open their account page. 

User recovery information
  • Step 3: From the recovery information option, delete the recovery email id and phone number.

Recovery information
  • Step 4: Click on Save to confirm the changes.

5.3. Remove multi-factor authentication: 

Disable the 2-factor authentication that requires the user’s phone to sign into the Google Apps account. 

Remove security keys that have been registered as the second step of authentication to access the Google Workspace account. 

  • Step 1: From the user account page in the Google Admin Console, go to the Security tab.

  • Step 2: Disable 2- step verification and remove all security keys.

2 step verification
  • Step 3: Click on Save.

5.4. Wipe copy of data on mobile devices

If the user was signed into multiple devices from the Google Apps account, it is advisable to perform a remote wipe of the complete account data. 

5.5. Remove OAuth 2.0 application tokens 

The user would have logged in to different applications using the single sign-on facility of Google Workspace. Although changing the password would automatically reset the tokens, it is a good practice to review the applications that have access via the Google Apps account and revoke them completely. You can sign into the user’s account and check the permissions here. 

5.6. Reset login cookies 

Since Google Workspace data can be accessed from multiple devices, if the credentials get verified, ensure that you reset the sign-in cookies of the user’s Google Workspace account access. After you reset the cookies, they cannot sign into the Google Workspace account, unless they have the new password. 
  • Step 1: Select the user from the user’s list in Google Admin Console. 

  • Step 2: Go to the security tab on the user account page and click on sign-in cookies. 

Reset sign-in cookies
  • Step 3: Click on Reset Cookies which signs them out of their accounts from all devices and browsers.

Confirm reset
Get actionable SaaS administration insights

We don’t spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

In this article

  • Introduction
  • Steps to Take before Deleting a User from Google Workspace
  • How to Delete a User from Google Workspace?
  • The Ultimate Solution to Avoid Data Loss- Backup!
  • Best Practices for Google Security before you Delete a User

Start enjoying faster and easier backups, today

Avoid costly data retention gaps and minimize time to recovery with SysCloud's cloud backup.Start 30-Day Free Trial