According to Comfort, Raczkowski and Trigos-Arrieta, a dense subgroup D of a compact abelian group G determines G if the restriction homomorphism Ĝ → D̂ of the dual groups is a topological isomorphism. We introduce four conditions on D that are necessary for it to determine G and we resolve the following question: If one of these conditions holds for every dense (or $G_δ$-dense) subgroup D of G, must G be metrizable? In particular, we prove (in ZFC) that a compact abelian group determined by all its $G_δ$-dense subgroups is metrizable, thereby resolving a question of Hernández, Macario and Trigos-Arrieta. (Under the additional assumption of the Continuum Hypothesis CH, the same statement was proved recently by Bruguera, Chasco, Domínguez, Tkachenko and Trigos-Arrieta.) As a tool, we develop a machinery for building $G_δ$-dense subgroups without uncountable compact subsets in compact groups of weight ω₁ (in ZFC). The construction is delicate, as these subgroups must have non-trivial convergent sequences in some models of ZFC.