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As long as you're in good standing with Linden Lab (not delinquent with billing or otherwise in violation of the Community Standards and Terms of Service) your Second Life account can remain inactive indefinitely. This means that your avatar and inventory will continue to be stored on the Second Life servers.

If a Premium account cannot be billed, it will never be deleted.  After a period of time, the account will go into delinquency.  At that point it is still possible to access the account and settle the balance. 

More detail on inactive accounts: 

More detail on what happens if you are having trouble paying: 

 

 

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That's anyone's guess.  I suspect that even the Lindens don't have a rigid rule.  Each time this question has been asked here in the forums, we have gathered widely differing opinions.  We're all residents, so the best we can say is that old, unused accounts do seem to vanish, but we don't really know how long it takes.  The best guess is at least five or six years.  If you're really concerned, of course, log your old accounts in every once in a while to rejuvenate them.  :)

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As far as I am aware, free accounts last forever.  One possible exception:  If you belong to groups that charge their members a percentage of their expenses (and many do), your $L balance may eventually go negative.  Possibly LL deletes such accounts if enough time passes or the negative balance is large enough.

Premium accounts will be deleted if LL cannot charge your payment method and you fall far enough into arrears...maybe three months or so.

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6 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

As far as I am aware, free accounts last forever. 

True everybody thinks that, and even said by officials, but it's not ....

I know for sure, free accounts, went on hold or deleted from search in the past, might be not all, but it happened to quite some,  If you don't remember the exact details these are lost forever. They also don't show up when using the lost password tool or by email.

6 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

Premium accounts will be deleted if LL cannot charge your payment method and you fall far enough into arrears...maybe three months or so.

Grumpity tells different just above you

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7 hours ago, Ethan Paslong said:

True everybody thinks that, and even said by officials, but it's not ....

I know for sure, free accounts, went on hold or deleted from search in the past, might be not all, but it happened to quite some,  If you don't remember the exact details these are lost forever. They also don't show up when using the lost password tool or by email.

Grumpity tells different just above you

Well...oops.

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I had one that I created in 2008, but only logged her in a few times.  I then lost the password and never got around to doing anything with the account.  I resurrected it early last year and though I had to give LL some details about the account in order to get a password reset, she was still there with intact inventory -- roughly 10 years inactive.

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