Empty email accounts, and some bad buzz for Hotmail

By Kip Kniskern | In News | Posted January 1, 2011 50 comments

In the past few days, a number of Hotmail users have been complaining on WindowsLiveHelp.com about a rather disconcerting issue: their Hotmail accounts, some up to 10 years old, appear completely empty.  No emails, no folders, nothing, just what appears to be a new account.  Here’s a description of the problem, from one of the forum posts:

My emails have and folders have all been deleted and I have a welcome email from Hotmail can you help please? It looks like my account has been removed and set back up even though I log in everyday so it cant have been inactive. My email address is {removed email address}.

The affected accounts appear to the users as new accounts, and they even receive a new “Welcome to Hotmail” email.  One of the moderators in the Hotmail forums confirms this:

We have already filed a report about this and we are currently investigating this issue. As I have checked the accounts, they are registered as new accounts. We will keep you guys posted once we have news on what needs to be done.

While (we hope) the affected accounts will be restored soon, the issue is beginning to get some traction among news agencies, tech publications, and blogs.  PC World posted on the issue early on January 1st, and a number of other sites have picked up the story, including BBC News and The Seattle Times (via the AP).  Some disgruntled users even set up a Facebook group, and posted directions in the Hotmail forums on how to leave voicemail for Hotmail Group Program Manager Dick Craddock and Corporate Vice President Chris Jones.

wth-Hotmail-Facebook-group

Microsoft has been quiet on the issue so far, except for this, to the AP:

"At this point it appears to be a limited issue, and Microsoft is working with individual users who are impacted. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers," Microsoft spokeswoman Catherine Brooker said in statement Saturday. She declined to disclose what caused the glitch.

If you’re having problems with your Hotmail account, be sure to report it on WindowsLiveHelp.com (and maybe join the Facebook group for good measure).  If you’re Hotmail, you might want to work on your PR damage control (yes, even on New Year’s Day – the internet never sleeps!)

Posted January 1st, 2011 at 5:31 pm
Category: News
Tags: Hotmail, Outage
  • Asrialys

    My e-mail address turned 12 yesterday and is still going strong. I’d be horrified if I lost my e-mails. Soon as I read this entry’s Tweet, I closed Windows Live Mail so that it wouldn’t sync, just in case.

  • Asrialys

    My e-mail address turned 12 yesterday and is still going strong. I’d be horrified if I lost my e-mails. Soon as I read this entry’s Tweet, I closed Windows Live Mail so that it wouldn’t sync, just in case.

  • Jennmarquezlaw

    I can acess my e mail I need my e mails for urgent!

  • Jennmarquezlaw

    I can acess my e mail I need my e mails for urgent!

  • brianm76

    Multiple instances of your emails are stored in more than one data center so it is highly unlikely that anyone’s emails would be lost but the news sites (like this one) don’t bother telling you that. Why?

    • adnan

      Cos it’s more hypeworthy and fun this way. But I agree with the fact that ms needs a way better pr program

      • brianm76

        I 100% agree that MS needs to be more proactive in reaching out to it’s users who have reported issues. But the headlines and the facebook pages, etc are absurd.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      We said that “(we hope) the affected accounts will be restored soon”, and focused on the larger (and perhaps more serious) PR problem. The fact is that we don’t know if the emails are ok or not. We’re hoping they are, and we’re hoping that Microsoft sheds some more light on the subject, soon.

      • brianm76

        If I am not mistaken there were comments posted from an interview done with someone at Hotmail (I have searched and can’t find just yet but I know I read about it somewhere) about how it would be highly unlikely emails would be deleted due to multiple instances of data across multiple data centers. The only reason emails would be deleted would be accounts that went inactive. Do you recall this?

        • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

          We’ll see if we can find the reference, and agree that the backup infrastructure for Hotmail makes it unlikely that the emails are deleted. However there’s probably a lot more at play, as it seems to be the connection of Live IDs to the data store that seems to be missing (somewhat wild conjecture, here). Even if the emails are “safe”, if they’re not accessible via Live ID, does it matter?

          • brianm76

            I agree. Even if they aren’t lost not being able to access them even for a few hours is still a problem. I also don’t think that the lack of communication from MS is due to the holidays but a problem among many web services where they rely too much on forums and outsourcing for support and it takes too much time to get real issues noticed.

    • Melrose

      Actually brianm76, about 5 years ago Hotmail deleted all the email in my account, reportedly for not being accessed for more than 30 days. This was in spite of my logging on nearly every day. I permanently lost all my email since I opened the account in 1999, as MS claimed there was nothing they could do.

      Maybe the fear of bad press will instill greater action in these circumstances…

      • brianm76

        Something that happened nearly 5 years ago is hardly applicable to what is happening to some accounts today. Since you can offer no proof that you logged in everyday and MS says you failed to login within 30 days I would have to error on the side that has the records than the side that only states they logged in every day…sorry :)

        • Brianmisretarded

          @brainm76 not only are you ignorant, and a ms fanboy, you are unable to listen and process dates in your pea size brain. ….you must be a system admin or db admin responsible for much data loss, but trying to protect their worthless job….sorry :)

          • brianm76

            How childish of you to post such nonsense. Do you have anything of value to add here?

        • Melrose

          @Brianm76. What happened 5 years ago is ABSOLUTELY applicable to what happened to Hotmail accounts this past week. It shows that it is an ongoing problem that can affect everyone. Just because ones account is maintained by a major corporation doesn’t mean that it is completely safe – not then and still not now – in spite of all the talk about cloud storage and computing. There is still a very real need for backup provisions.

          And how could YOU possibly know that I had no proof that I had logged on in the past 30 days? I had both printed emails and my windows history as proof.

  • brianm76

    Multiple instances of your emails are stored in more than one data center so it is highly unlikely that anyone’s emails would be lost but the news sites (like this one) don’t bother telling you that. Why?

    • adnan

      Cos it’s more hypeworthy and fun this way. But I agree with the fact that ms needs a way better pr program

      • brianm76

        I 100% agree that MS needs to be more proactive in reaching out to it’s users who have reported issues. But the headlines and the facebook pages, etc are absurd.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      We said that “(we hope) the affected accounts will be restored soon”, and focused on the larger (and perhaps more serious) PR problem. The fact is that we don’t know if the emails are ok or not. We’re hoping they are, and we’re hoping that Microsoft sheds some more light on the subject, soon.

      • brianm76

        If I am not mistaken there were comments posted from an interview done with someone at Hotmail (I have searched and can’t find just yet but I know I read about it somewhere) about how it would be highly unlikely emails would be deleted due to multiple instances of data across multiple data centers. The only reason emails would be deleted would be accounts that went inactive. Do you recall this?

        • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

          We’ll see if we can find the reference, and agree that the backup infrastructure for Hotmail makes it unlikely that the emails are deleted. However there’s probably a lot more at play, as it seems to be the connection of Live IDs to the data store that seems to be missing (somewhat wild conjecture, here). Even if the emails are “safe”, if they’re not accessible via Live ID, does it matter?

          • brianm76

            I agree. Even if they aren’t lost not being able to access them even for a few hours is still a problem. I also don’t think that the lack of communication from MS is due to the holidays but a problem among many web services where they rely too much on forums and outsourcing for support and it takes too much time to get real issues noticed.

    • Melrose

      Actually brianm76, about 5 years ago Hotmail deleted all the email in my account, reportedly for not being accessed for more than 30 days. This was in spite of my logging on nearly every day. I permanently lost all my email since I opened the account in 1999, as MS claimed there was nothing they could do.

      Maybe the fear of bad press will instill greater action in these circumstances…

      • brianm76

        Something that happened nearly 12 years ago is hardly applicable to what is happening to some accounts today. Since you can offer no proof that you logged in everyday and MS says you failed to login within 30 days I would have to error on the side that has the records than the side that only states they logged in every day…sorry :)

        • Brianmisretarded

          @brainm76 not only are you ignorant, and a ms fanboy, you are unable to listen and process dates in your pea size brain. ….you must be a system admin or db admin responsible for much data loss, but trying to protect their worthless job….sorry :)

          • brianm76

            How childish of you to post such nonsense. Do you have anything of value to add here?

        • Melrose

          @Brianm76. What happened 5 years ago is ABSOLUTELY applicable to what happened to Hotmail accounts this past week. It shows that it is an ongoing problem that can affect everyone. Just because ones account is maintained by a major corporation doesn’t mean that it is completely safe – not then and still not now – in spite of all the talk about cloud storage and computing. There is still a very real need for backup provisions.

          And how could YOU possibly know that I had no proof that I had logged on in the past 30 days? I had both printed emails and my windows history as proof.

  • http://macrosofter.wordpress.com/ quikboy

    These ‘special’ Facebook groups are lame. Once people forget or care less about the thing the group was about, the pages eventually get neglected and piled up with spam and take up a chunk in your list of groups you’re in.

    It does indeed suck for anyone’s e-mail account to have vanishing e-mail issues and such, especially as e-mail is becoming a neccessary way of communicating for all types of things. Luckily it’s isolated, and perhaps not too much could be potentially lost with relatively new accounts. Hope it gets resolved soon. Unfortunately, all the Gmail fanboys are going to jump over this despite the fact it could happen to any provider and Gmail has had several issues before too.

  • Anonymous

    These ‘special’ Facebook groups are lame. Once people forget or care less about the thing the group was about, the pages eventually get neglected and piled up with spam and take up a chunk in your list of groups you’re in.

    It does indeed suck for anyone’s e-mail account to have vanishing e-mail issues and such, especially as e-mail is becoming a neccessary way of communicating for all types of things. Luckily it’s isolated, and perhaps not too much could be potentially lost with relatively new accounts. Hope it gets resolved soon. Unfortunately, all the Gmail fanboys are going to jump over this despite the fact it could happen to any provider and Gmail has had several issues before too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RobertMillePhotography Robert Miller

    Hi, as one of the people who lost their email wiped clean of all data. It appears that most of the people who have lost content are long time users of hotmail like me from 1999. I do question Microsoft’s contention that it affected limited accounts. There are perhaps over 25,000 who have been active in the microsoft forums. And I image that just shows about one tenth of the problem. As far as their help with individual users I got an email from them with a canned response sorry for the problem, the problem is under investigation. And we will inform you and get you updated through this email. Then, they also say in the same communication that the complaint is resolved and delete the communication. Much like all my emails have been deleted except for one saying welcome to hotmail.

    • brianm76

      I have had my account since 1998 and my second account since 2002 both are working fine with no issues and have never had any issues. Not saying that you are not experiencing this issue nor do I dispute the fact that Hotmail’s Support is lame (so is any other web service support for that matter try getting something done quickly through facebook support :)

    • Brainm76

      The truth is you are just one, or 25k or more people. Microsoft has their money in the bank, and does not care. You have a free email service, free as in free beer, and everyone should thank Microsoft for said free services. Next you will complain you need this ‘free’ account for your worthless WP7 phone, and all your phone contacts are lost too? Basically, life is fair, and you get what you paid for…or you made a big mistake and got an WP7. Figure it out. Good luck. … sorry. :)

      • brianm76

        Is this the best you can do? Spoofing somone’s display name? Someone needs to take their meds!

  • http://www.facebook.com/RobertMillePhotography Robert Miller

    Hi, as one of the people who lost their email wiped clean of all data. It appears that most of the people who have lost content are long time users of hotmail like me from 1999. I do question Microsoft’s contention that it affected limited accounts. There are perhaps over 25,000 who have been active in the microsoft forums. And I image that just shows about one tenth of the problem. As far as their help with individual users I got an email from them with a canned response sorry for the problem, the problem is under investigation. And we will inform you and get you updated through this email. Then, they also say in the same communication that the complaint is resolved and delete the communication. Much like all my emails have been deleted except for one saying welcome to hotmail.

    • brianm76

      I have had my account since 1998 and my second account since 2002 both are working fine with no issues and have never had any issues. Not saying that you are not experiencing this issue nor do I dispute the fact that Hotmail’s Support is lame (so is any other web service support for that matter try getting something done quickly through facebook support :)

    • Brainm76

      The truth is you are just one, or 25k or more people. Microsoft has their money in the bank, and does not care. You have a free email service, free as in free beer, and everyone should thank Microsoft for said free services. Next you will complain you need this ‘free’ account for your worthless WP7 phone, and all your phone contacts are lost too? Basically, life is fair, and you get what you paid for…or you made a big mistake and got an WP7. Figure it out. Good luck. … sorry. :)

      • brianm76

        Is this the best you can do? Spoofing somone’s display name? Someone needs to take their meds!

  • Prj68

    it sucks, i’ve lost all my contacts, in both personal and work email accounts. hotmail needs to fix thier problems asap or face further problems. not happy

    • brianm76

      That sounded like a threat…

  • Prj68

    it sucks, i’ve lost all my contacts, in both personal and work email accounts. hotmail needs to fix thier problems asap or face further problems. not happy

    • brianm76

      That sounded like a threat…

  • Mysticgeek

    No problems here with my live account

  • Mysticgeek

    No problems here with my live account

  • Gregorioparedes

    No puedo entrar a mi cuenta , he perdido contacto con personas e instituciones , y no existe mejoría ni explicación al hecho del cierre de windows live hotmail

  • Gregorioparedes

    No puedo entrar a mi cuenta , he perdido contacto con personas e instituciones , y no existe mejoría ni explicación al hecho del cierre de windows live hotmail

  • Mimfma360

    a mi tambien me pas lo mismo, perdi la mayoria de mi correos pero eso fue hace aproximadamente un mes y quisiera si es posible que sean recuperados
    gracias.

  • Mimfma360

    a mi tambien me pas lo mismo, perdi la mayoria de mi correos pero eso fue hace aproximadamente un mes y quisiera si es posible que sean recuperados
    gracias.

  • Tiny_muppet

    hi i lose my msn hotmail as well it won’t work for me
    tiny_muppet@hotmail.com

  • Tiny_muppet

    hi i lose my msn hotmail as well it won’t work for me
    tiny_muppet@hotmail.com