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Troubleshoot login challenges, 2-Step Verification, & sign-in issues

Google Workspace users and administrators might occasionally have difficulty accessing their accounts due to sign-in issues. There are multiple reasons for these issues—for example, forgotten passwords, or users being locked out due to login challenges.

As a Google Workspace administrator, refer to the sections below for common issues related to login challenges, 2-Step Verification, and sign-in issues. Follow these instructions to troubleshoot and resolve these issues for your organization.

About 2-Step Verification and login challenges

2-Step Verification

With 2-Step Verification, your users must sign in to their account in two steps. For example, after entering a password, a user gains access to their account only after entering a code that’s sent to their cell phone, or after using a security key.

2-Step Verification is sometimes described as a type of login challenge. As a Google Workspace administrator, you can deploy this type of login challenge for your users. For instructions and more details about 2-Step Verification, see Protect your business with 2-Step Verification.

Login challenges triggered by suspicious activity

If Google Workspace detects a suspicious sign-in attempt, or detects that an unauthorized person is trying to access a user’s account, that person is presented with a login challenge—an extra security question that asks the person to verify their identity. For example, Google might send a verification code to the real user’s phone. If the person attempting to sign in fails to enter the code, that person can’t access the account.

Unlike 2-Step Verification—which is deployed by administrators and is routinely required for each sign-in attempt—this type of login challenge is triggered automatically only when unusual or suspicious activity is detected. Suspicious login activity is behavior that falls outside the normal pattern of user behavior. This could be a user logging in from an unusual location or in a manner associated with abuse.

For more details and for descriptions of the different types of login challenges, see Verify a user’s identity with extra security and Add employee ID as a login challenge.

Instructions for common sign-in issues

Login challenge is preventing access to a user account

As a Google Workspace administrator, you may need to restore access to a user account when a login challenge is preventing access.

For example, you may need to sign in to a user account as part of the offboarding process when an employee leaves the company. Or you may need to restore access for an existing user or administrator, because the authorized user can’t verify their identity. For example, a user might not set up 2-Step Verification before the enforcement date, or a user might not have a phone signal and can’t get the verification code.

Solution: Temporarily turn off the login challenge

If a login challenge is preventing access to a user account, you’ll need to turn off the login challenge for that user to restore account access. It might take several minutes for this change to take effect on the user account. At that point, the login challenge is temporarily turned off for 10 minutes to allow you to sign in. For instructions, see Disabling a login challenge.

Important: If a login challenge is preventing access to a user account, changing the user’s password is not enough to restore access. You can only resolve the issue by first disabling the login challenge.

If turning off the login challenge for a user doesn’t restore access, you can also generate backup verification codes to recover an account. For instructions, see Recover an account protected by 2-Step Verification.

2-Step Verification is preventing access to an admin account

If 2-Step Verification is enforced at your company, administrators won’t be able to sign in to their accounts if they lose access to their 2-Step Verification method. For example, this might occur if an administrator leaves the company or loses their security key.

Solution: Work with another administrator within your organization

We recommend that you set up more than one administrator in your organization with access to the security settings in the Google Admin console. This way, if one administrator loses access to their 2-Step Verification method and is locked out of their account, they can work with another administrator to restore access. Setting up more than one administrator with access to the security settings helps you resolve such issues without contacting Google Cloud Support.

Solution (if needed): Recover the account

If 2-Step Verification is preventing you from accessing an admin account, and if there isn’t another administrator in the organization who can assist you with regaining access, you’ll need to recover the account. To begin the account recovery process, follow the instructions in Recover an account protected by 2-Step Verification

If you’re unable to gain access to the admin account using the steps to recover an account, you can recover your account through https://accounts.google.com/signin/recovery. For more details and instructions, see Reset your administrator password.

Unable to sign in to a former employee’s user account

As a Google Workspace administrator, you may need to restore access to an account for an employee who has left the company. You may know the password for the user account, but a login challenge might prevent you from gaining access.

Solution: Temporarily turn off the login challenge

If a login challenge is preventing access to a user account, you’ll need to turn off the login challenge for that user account to restore access. It might take several minutes for this change to take effect on the user account. At that point, the login challenge is temporarily turned off for 10 minutes to allow you to sign in. For instructions, see Disabling a login challenge.

Important: If a login challenge is preventing access to a user account, changing the user’s password is not enough to restore access. You can only resolve the issue by first disabling the login challenge.

User or admin can’t sign in because of a forgotten password

If a user forgets the password for their managed Google account (for example, their Google Workspace or Cloud Identity account), or if you think their account has been compromised, you can reset their password from the Google Admin console.

For instructions, see Reset a user’s password. See also Reset and recover passwords.

Admin needs to reset passwords for multiple user accounts

You can reset multiple users’ passwords in bulk. You may need to do this if you have many new users, or if you think accounts have been compromised.

For instructions, see Add or update multiple users from a CSV file.

Admin needs to reset their own password

If you're an administrator of your organization's Google Workspace or Cloud Identity account and you forgot your password, you can reset your own password to access your account.

For instructions, see Reset your administrator password. See also Reset and recover passwords.

Admin needs to reset another administrator’s password

To reset the password of another administrator, you must have Super Admin privileges. If you have Super Admin privileges, follow the same steps for resetting a user's password. For instructions, see Reset a user’s password. See also Reset and recover passwords.

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