Being forced to transition Google accounts: what I can, and can’t, take with me

I have two accounts: james.cridland@gmail.com and the Google Apps/ GSuite account james@cridland.net. I’ve used the @cridland.net one for the past seven or eight years. I now need to stop. Here’s how hopefully it won’t break everything.

Edit: I’ve kind of completed this work now, so I’ll edit my experiences in here, just in case it helps someone else.

Some background that isn’t very relevant

I have recently moved from the UK to Australia. In spite of being the account admin, Google won’t let me change my @cridland.net account to be in Australia, because I once tried out Google Helpouts and so apparently got a Merchant Account, which means — even though I never got any payments — Google point-blank refuse to change the country my account is based in.

Google Play’s terms of use, clearly stating that if I violate the T&Cs, I will get my entire Google account terminated.

Meanwhile, if I use Google Play in future then I might find my account terminated for trying to pretend I’m in the wrong country. This could be an automated account ban, and I might not be able to appeal. This is a business risk I can’t, obviously, take. (As a Google Apps admin, I’m hoping this won’t take down my entire domain; my family use those accounts too.)

And my @cridland.net account will pay UK VAT on things like Google Drive space. I don’t want to pay 20% more, and in a currency I don’t use. Edit: actually, they don’t charge VAT to UK companies who are VAT registered. I’m not anymore, but can’t change that. But I am not liable for VAT in Australia anyway. So.

I’ve tried escalating this with Google, but they’re not helping me, and I’m understandably extremely unhappy about it, but can’t do much more. (If you can help, please do.) But so...

Here are the individual things I think need to do

I think therefore I’m going to:

  1. Use my @gmail.com account (which is transitioned over to be Australian) as my main signin account on my Chromebook and my Android devices.
  2. Remove my @cridland.net account entirely from my Chromebook and my Android phones: since I run the risk of it being terminated if I use it in connection with Google Play. [For the Android devices, this probably means a complete factory reset.]

It turns out this isn’t entirely simple to achieve. Here are the things I did.

E-mail: I’ll forward email for james@cridland.net over to my @gmail.com account, via the Google Apps Admin page. I’ve not got much live (‘to-do’) email in there. “Reply as” will let me respond from the correct email address, with the drawback that Outlook users will get “from james.cridland@gmail.com on behalf of james@cridland.net” in their header. They’ve had that before; they’ll cope.

Google Play / Android apps: Google doesn’t offer any way of transferring ownership of apps over to a new account, so I need to do an audit on the apps I’ve bought on the @cridland.net account, and repurchase the ones I want to still use. Edit: in the end, there were about three: Pocket Weather, Pocket Jelly, and the Pujie Black watch face. Surprising. And, for the record, I didn’t mind giving more money to the developers. I did lose all my progress in Ingress, but that was a good excuse to remove that time-suck from my phone.

Google Play books, movies, paid-for music: I’ve a few, but only a very few. I’ll lose access to these altogether, I suppose: this is the big sticking point in the TOS.

Google Play music locker: I have around ten thousand uploaded songs in my @cridland.net account. I could use Google Takeout, I think, to download these, but I suspect I don’t need them (and that’s a lot of data to download). Edit: I’ve missed precisely one album, a Beatles remix album. I can always download and upload that one.

Google Drive: I can share the @cridland.net files with @gmail.com and then ‘copy them to My Drive’, with the new functionality that they’ve just rolled out. I can’t transfer ownership of files outside my domain; nor can I easily flick between drives on my Chromebook. I need to get this sorted relatively quickly, since my 100GB free space runs out in early February; I’m currently using about 35GB. Edit: I shared the files as above and it worked well. One small issue is that if someone shares a file with me as james@cridland.net I can’t see it without logging on as that account and sharing it over to my Gmail account. My space issue quickly disappeared after I noted that Google Maps gives Local Guides — people that review and take photos of places in Google Maps — 1TB of free space. So, I’ve got that then.

Google+: It looks like I can transfer over my connections to my @gmail.com account. I’ll need to give that address to new people who want to follow me on… wait, this is Google+ we’re talking about, nobody wants to do that.

Google Calendar: I can export then import my calendar details. I’ve done this relatively recently, so that’s okay. I don’t quite know, however, how this setup will handle a calendar invite for @cridland.net (a Google account) or @crid.land (not a Google account). Does anyone know? Edit: I’ll tell you: it copes just fine. If you send me an invite to james@cridland.net, it forwards over to my Gmail account, and I can then accept that invite within Google Calendar.

Google Contacts: I can export/import these too. Edit: I didn’t; I started afresh. I figure that I can still log into Google Contacts occasionally to search for people if I need to.

Google Photos: I have 3,444 photos in there at the moment: so that’s probably 4GB of data. Ech, that’s a lot. But they’ve all been backed up to Flickr automatically anyway, so I’ll just start afresh, I guess. No nice “three years ago” photo mosaics though. Edit: I did just that, and now have all my Flickr photos in Google Photos.

Google Hangouts: Well, tough. If I can’t sign into my account, I can’t use Hangouts. But I’ve not much money left in there for phone calls (and they’re 20% VAT chargeable anyway). The chat feature is used by literally four people, all of whom can use Facebook Messenger (which is actually quite good).

Google Location History: Well, tough, too. I love this feature, and it’s been spying on me for the last however many years. I guess I’ll need to start afresh.

Android Wear: I need to reset my watch and associate it with my new account. That’s cool. On the upside, at least I’ll get proper support with a @gmail.com account. Support for some Google Now features with a Google Apps account is iffy; and Google Now basically is Android Wear.

Google Authenticator: I don’t need to do a complete reset on my phone, but it hasn’t had one for a few years, so it probably makes sense to do that. This means I need to log into the accounts I use and disable two-factor authentication, and then re-enable it again. I’ve done this relatively recently, and it’s a faff, but that’s all it is.

Google Notes: Tough, you can’t transfer these. I’ve lots of notes. I can share them, though they’re still vulnerable. Edit: I’ve not missed a single one.

For everything that I currently log into via Google, I need to somehow switch, ideally. I’m not too fussed about this, even though some will need brand new accounts opening, perhaps. I’m not worried about logging in via @cridland.net (particularly via VPN to the UK) when I absolutely have to, but I just don’t want to do anything more than that, lest it upset the Google automatic account deletion system.

So, that’s that then. Cheers, Google!

Edit: after discovering Google Maps Local Guides, which has given me lots of free space in Google Drive; and then reinstalling the Google Opinions app which gives you, seemingly, about 30 cents each time you visit a variety of large Australian stores, I’m probably not particularly out of pocket. It’s also interesting seeing the additional features that you get with a Gmail account instead of a slightly hobbled business one. Particularly, I get additional search results in Google with my personal stuff (handy), and a few more useful alerts in Android Wear. And one of my worries — that my email would be full of Google adverts — hasn’t come to pass, since Google’s experimental Inbox By Gmail doesn’t have adverts in, for now, anyway.