How Do Google’s 2-Step Verification Backup Codes Work

How Do Google’s 2-Step Verification Backup Codes Work
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When it comes to safeguarding your online presence, Google’s 2-Step Verification (2SV) is a familiar shield. The concept involves an extra layer of protection beyond a mere username and password. An OTP (One Time Password), often dispatched via email or text, is an integral part of this process. But what if access to your designated email or phone number is no longer available? This is where the ingenious feature of verification backup codes comes into play.

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Verification backup codes serve as a lifeline, particularly in situations where conventional means of authentication fall short. Imagine being in a scenario where you are without access to your typical OTP delivery channels; these codes become your digital passport. Especially when on the move, Google, among other platforms, provides these backup codes to ensure secure access as a last resort. Typically, users safeguard these codes by printing them, creating a tangible copy for emergencies.


Activation and Management of Google’s Verification Backup Codes

Google ensures the flexibility of managing and securing these backup codes. The ability to deactivate or replace them is a pivotal aspect of this security feature. This becomes crucial when concerns arise about the security of these codes, such as misplacement or suspicion of compromise. Deleting or replacing codes is a straightforward process, akin to refreshing a webpage. By refreshing, the old unused codes expire, and a set of 10 new codes is generated.

How to Generate Google’s 2-Step Verification Backup Codes: A Step-by-Step Guide

Setting up Google’s 2-Step Verification backup codes is a prudent step in enhancing your account’s security. The process is similar across various platforms, be it Android, iOS, or a PC browser. The following steps guide you through the setup process:

  1. Open Chrome browser and tap your Google profile, click on “Manage Your Google Account.”
Google’s 2-Step Verification Backup Codes: Open Google account settings
Open Google account settings
  1. Select the “Security” tab within your Google Account.
  2. Scroll down and click on “2-Step Verification.”
Google’s 2-Step Verification Backup Codes: Click 2-Step verification
Click 2-Step verification
  1. Input your password when prompted.
  2. Scroll down and click on “Backup Codes.”
Click Backup codes
Click Backup codes
  1. Input your password again as prompted and click on “Get Backup Codes.”
Get backup codes
Get backup codes
  1. Choose to either “Print Codes” or “Download Codes.”
    • “Print Codes” allows you to save as a PDF or send it to a printer.
    • “Download Codes” generates a .txt file that you can save.
Backup your Google account codes
Backup your Google account codes

Considerations and Drawbacks of Google’s Verification Backup Codes

While these codes offer an additional layer of security, they are not without their drawbacks. One notable limitation is their vulnerability, akin to writing down a password on paper. The level of security they provide hinges on how effectively they are kept away from prying eyes.

Drawbacks of Verification Backup Codes:

  • Security Concerns: Like a written password, these codes are susceptible to theft or unauthorized access.
  • Convenience Issues: Memorizing the 8-digit codes is challenging, and carrying a physical copy at all times poses its own challenges.
  • Limited Application: Despite their utility, only a limited number of services, including Google, have implemented them.

Securing Your Verification Backup Codes: Best Practices

Given the inherent vulnerabilities, securing these backup codes is paramount. Here are some best practices to ensure the safety of your verification backup codes:

  1. Physical Storage: Print the codes and store them securely in a location not easily accessible.
  2. Password Manager Usage: If using 2SV for team access, consider storing codes in a password manager as file attachments. Ensure the password manager used is secure, with a robust recovery code that is easy to remember or securely printed.
  3. Prevent Compromise: Be cautious to avoid compromising situations, such as leaving printed codes unattended.

By following these best practices, the vulnerability of these backup codes can be significantly mitigated. Awareness and diligence in managing these codes are key to ensuring the integrity of your online accounts.


In the realm of online security, Google’s 2-Step Verification backup codes stand as a valuable tool. While not flawless, their strategic application and secure management contribute significantly to fortifying your digital fortress. Understanding their nuances and employing best practices ensures that these codes remain a reliable ally in the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity.