What is Google Authenticator?
Google Authenticator is a two-factor authentication (2FA) app developed by Google. It provides an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a code in addition to the password during the login process.
The app works by generating a unique, one-time code that is used as a second factor to verify a user’s identity. When logging in to an account that requires 2FA, you must enter both their password and the current code generated by Google Authenticator. The codes are generated using the Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) algorithm. This uses a shared secret key and the current time to generate a unique code that is only valid for a short period of time.
Google Authenticator can be used for a variety of online accounts, including Google services, social media platforms, and financial services. The app is available for free on both iOS and Android devices.
If you’re reading this, chances are you either lost your phone or have a new phone and need to use Google Authenticator. If this is the case, let’s explore your options.
Using Google Auth with a Lost Phone
If you have lost your phone with Google Authenticator installed, you may still be able to regain access to your accounts by doing one of the following:
Try to recover your lost phone: If you think you might be able to recover your lost phone, try using Google’s Find My Device service to locate it. If you are unable to locate your phone, this won’t work.
Contact the service provider: Contact the service provider where you use 2-factor authentication (2F.) Explain that you have lost your phone with Google Authenticator installed and need to regain access to your account. They may have a process in place to help you reset your 2FA. This will help you regain access to your account.
Use your backup codes: Many services that use Google Authenticator offer backup codes. These can be used to regain access to accounts in case you’ve lost your phone or can’t access Google Authenticator. If you have backup codes, use them to sign in to your account and then disable and re-enable 2FA using your new phone.
Use an alternate 2FA method: If you are unable to regain access to your account, you may need to use an alternate 2FA method. SMS or email verification are two examples of this. You can use these until you can set up Google Authenticator on your new phone.
Avoid losing access to your accounts if you lose your phone with Google Authenticator installed. You can do this by making sure you have backup codes for all the accounts where you use 2FA. Store these codes in a secure place. Additionally, consider using a password manager that supports 2FA. Password managers can simplify the process of managing and recovering 2FA codes across multiple devices.
Setting Up Google Auth on a New Phone
If you get a new phone, you will need to transfer your 2-factor authentication (2FA) codes to the new phone. You will need to do this in order to continue using the app for generating codes. Here are the steps for transferring your codes:
- Install Google Authenticator on your new phone. In order to do this, download and install Google Authenticator from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android) on your new phone.
- Deactivate Google Authenticator on your old phone. To do this, open the Google Authenticator app on your old phone and go to the “Settings” menu. Select “Transfer accounts” and follow the prompts to deactivate the app.
- Transfer accounts to your new phone. After deactivating Google Authenticator on your old phone, you can transfer your accounts to your phone. Open the Google Authenticator app on your new phone and select “Begin setup.” Choose “Scan a barcode.” Scan the QR code displayed on your computer screen or enter the secret key manually. This will transfer your 2FA codes to your new phone.
- Verify your 2FA codes. After transferring your accounts, you should verify that your 2FA codes are working correctly. Test each account by logging out and logging back in. Each time you will have to enter the 2FA code generated by Google Authenticator.