Hotmail messages vanishing for some users

Microsoft's free email service, Hotmail, has recently begun showing a number of users empty mailboxes for no apparent reason.

The bug -- which has seen many Hotmail users swarm to the official forums complaining after it first appeared on the 31st December -- appears to remove or at least display all folders as being empty and won't show any emails, with affected accounts appearing as brand new accounts and users even recieving the welcoming email.

"Hotmail deleted all my emails and made it like a brand new account," one frustrated user posted. "Please help. I don't care about deleted emails, but everything else is extremely important."

It's unclear if messages have actually been deleted, although more than likely they are being hidden by a bug or problem with the Hotmail platform. Some users report being able to login once and seeing one or two recent emails, before logging out and back in again then finding their inbox completely empty.

Users frustrated at the time it's taking for the problem to be solved have even headed to Facebook, creating a group to raise awareness about the bug and the seemingly slow response from Microsoft to provide a solution. 63 people have so far joined the group.

Microsoft has now acknowledged the problem, but told the BBC the issues only affect a "small subset" of users and should be resolved soon - there's no current timeframe for a fix to be made available. In the meantime, the company has apologised for the problems, saying they are "sorry" for any inconvenience caused.

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67 Comments

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Majesticmerc said,
Maybe their mail servers are just running android and they went to someone elses inbox?

Actually the Hotmail servers are running on beowulf clusters of HTC Heros with replicated microSD storage

andy2004 said,
also see here :

http://www.neowin.net/news/hot...es-hundreds-of-users-emails

And its not a small subset of users. Microsoft have known about this for some time now but continued to fob people off on their joke support page.


Here's a tip...if this was a widespread hotmail issue, everyone's inbox would be affected. That isn't the case, hence it's an isolated issue.

And "hundreds of users emails"...you do realize hotmail has over 300 million active users right? So its an isolated issue that affects a very small percentage of people.

And not to mention, hotmail / gmail / yahoo w/e are all free email services. NOWHERE do they state they guarantee your emails will never be lost. If you are worried about losing them, back them up.

/- Razorfold said,

Here's a tip...if this was a widespread hotmail issue, everyone's inbox would be affected. That isn't the case, hence it's an isolated issue.

And "hundreds of users emails"...you do realize hotmail has over 300 million active users right? So its an isolated issue that affects a very small percentage of people.

And not to mention, hotmail / gmail / yahoo w/e are all free email services. NOWHERE do they state they guarantee your emails will never be lost. If you are worried about losing them, back them up.

Sorry but your information is flase. Its not a small subset of users hundreds of people have been complaining for months and months about this issue on their support page. Dont feel as though you have to defend hotmail to me heck ive used it a long long time but im sorry for the last 4 to 6 months if you read hotmails own support page there are widespread reports of users suddenly losing emails through no fault of their own.

Yet again it's an ISOLATED issue. If you can find me PROOF of at least a million users then yeh I'll take you seriously and say its a widespread issue.

Also let me ask you a question. Would you put your money in a bank that doesn't have some sort of insurance / guarantee? No right? So why would you store important information on a public email that offers you no guarantee without any backups?

Perhaps someone used an iPhone to access Hotmail via Pop3 and the 2010 bug cleared them out. It's only a matter of time before we have another Apple screw-up - MS with this, Google with the sms problem.

well my mom suffered from this issue and she its **** of this thing i told her before to change to gmail but well...

eilegz said,
well my mom suffered from this issue and she its **** of this thing i told her before to change to gmail but well...

This could happen to any email provider. Microsoft would be one of the most secure when it comes to this. For example when it comes to photos in SkyDrive they back it up 4 times on 4 different servers.

mackenziepricee said,
This could happen to any email provider. Microsoft would be one of the most secure when it comes to this. For example when it comes to photos in SkyDrive they back it up 4 times on 4 different servers.

And even if it wasn't the case, this might be just a database reading bug or something similar, messages or/and backups should still be there.

What is going on with all software today? Everything seems to have bugs, today I tried sending a picture text using hancent on my Droid and instead of attaching the pic I took it decided to send an old 1

zerokool316 said,
What is going on with all software today? Everything seems to have bugs, today I tried sending a picture text using hancent on my Droid and instead of attaching the pic I took it decided to send an old 1

1/1/11 must be tricky for most software

snelson said,
I haven't been able to sign in to my account for two days.

MS does need to work on their support and response time to events but I am guessing the response on this one is a bit slower due to decreased holiday staffing. 2 days is a bit much to not have access I will give you that for certain. Have you attempted to access through Windows Live Mail on your desktop to see if that works? I haven't seen anyone post if that has worked or not. So far (fingers crossed) no issues with my hotmail accounts here.

brianm76 said,

MS does need to work on their support and response time to events but I am guessing the response on this one is a bit slower due to decreased holiday staffing. 2 days is a bit much to not have access I will give you that for certain. Have you attempted to access through Windows Live Mail on your desktop to see if that works? I haven't seen anyone post if that has worked or not. So far (fingers crossed) no issues with my hotmail accounts here.

Thats not an excuse because of Holidays. Also as i was told in mt experience if you read the story when i brought it to neowins attention they cant recover anything after 24 - 48 hours !

andy2004 said,

Thats not an excuse because of Holidays. Also as i was told in mt experience if you read the story when i brought it to neowins attention they cant recover anything after 24 - 48 hours !

Who said anything about it being an excuse? It is a simple fact that if a company cares about its employees it is going to let them off on and around the holidays. There will be people staffed but fewer than normal. That is a balance companies must have as they must also keep their employees happy.

Here comes all the comments hating on Hotmail and praising on Gmail by loyal Gmail users. Not that this is a pretty isolated event, it could possibly happen to any big-name e-mail provider, and considering that these events aren't more widespread with Hotmail having millions upon millions of users as a reason to switch to Gmail or some other e-mail provider.

Quikboy said,
Here comes all the comments hating on Hotmail and praising on Gmail by loyal Gmail users. Not that this is a pretty isolated event, it could possibly happen to any big-name e-mail provider, and considering that these events aren't more widespread with Hotmail having millions upon millions of users as a reason to switch to Gmail or some other e-mail provider.

I use to swear by GMail, but all the little "security" features they've added has really ****ed me off, I use Hotmail now.

Quikboy said,
Here comes all the comments hating on Hotmail and praising on Gmail by loyal Gmail users. Not that this is a pretty isolated event, it could possibly happen to any big-name e-mail provider, and considering that these events aren't more widespread with Hotmail having millions upon millions of users as a reason to switch to Gmail or some other e-mail provider.

Yes, they come out of the woodwork anytime something even the smallest negative thing is said about an MS product.

xtruder said,

I use to swear by GMail, but all the little "security" features they've added has really ****ed me off, I use Hotmail now.


You can let hotmail use your gmail account, its what im doing atm. Got all my mail on both Hotmail as on gmail \o/
gmail is fine, but i just prefer hotmail's style. Plus it has build in MSN instead of Gtalk which noone uses

Quikboy said,
Here comes all the comments hating on Hotmail and praising on Gmail by loyal Gmail users. Not that this is a pretty isolated event, it could possibly happen to any big-name e-mail provider, and considering that these events aren't more widespread with Hotmail having millions upon millions of users as a reason to switch to Gmail or some other e-mail provider.

Well, does hotmail support IMAP? what about full SSL session? Anyways, if Gmail didn't exist then you guys would still be stuck with 2 MB space and no pop3 support and BTW hotmail is still bloated with big and ugly graphical ads. They only woke up after Gmail scared the hell out of them

Shadowzz said,

Plus it has build in MSN instead of Gtalk which noone uses

Well, all my old MSN contacts are now showing up on Gtalk. I haven't run pidgin for more than a year already, as everyone was disconnected there. I'd guess it might have something to do with people getting Android phones, maybe.

Anecdotal evidence though, as worldwide there's obviously more people using MSN than Gtalk, but it comes down to what your contacts use.

weizman said,
i'm one of those users that lost over 4000 emails....

You haven't lost anything. Most email services and this includes Hotmail keep multiple copies of your emails in multiple data centers so that it would take a major event to lose your emails. Should you still make backups of your emails, sure if that helps you sleep better. But if it is that important you might want to make a hard copy

brianm76 said,

You haven't lost anything. Most email services and this includes Hotmail keep multiple copies of your emails in multiple data centers so that it would take a major event to lose your emails. Should you still make backups of your emails, sure if that helps you sleep better. But if it is that important you might want to make a hard copy

to bad i just got a new hard drive on new years eve afternoon when i still had my emails available, and went to have them download to my mail client this morning and they had vanished.

This happened to me but a month ago. I didn't know how to contact them about it. I cleared out all my recent emails but I realized that my message history only went back to September. All my emails from September and years ago is all gone.

The cloud is highly over-rated. Download your email to a dedicated client. As mentioned, Hotmail allows POP3 for all users. Would you go to the post office to read your paper mail and leave it there for them to store for you? No. So why on Earth would you do it with email?

No problem here across 4 different hotmail accounts (4 different bays too) so I'm guessing this is probably an isolated incident.

Also...I wonder if these people realize it was New Years, and the vast majority of people are off work. Hence MS probably has limited customer support.

"Hotmail deleted all my emails and made it like a brand new account," one frustrated user posted. "Please help. I don't care about deleted emails, but everything else is extremely important."

What else do you have on your hotmail lol?

/- Razorfold said,
What else do you have on your hotmail lol?

I was thinking the same thing. I'm pretty sure that deleted e-mails are a big deal and I can't think of anything else that is on Hotmail...

Tanshin said,

I was thinking the same thing. I'm pretty sure that deleted e-mails are a big deal and I can't think of anything else that is on Hotmail...

I think what is meant is that the emails he/she deleted aren't important, but the ones still in inbox etc are.

metallithrax said,

I think what is meant is that the emails he/she deleted aren't important, but the ones still in inbox etc are.

Hotmail now have many other things other then email. You have skydrive attached to it and if the whole hotmail account if wype, it could mean skydrive, msn messenger and everything else attached to it.

metallithrax said,

I think what is meant is that the emails he/she deleted aren't important, but the ones still in inbox etc are.


Then forward them to another email? Back them up?

Hotmail now have many other things other then email. You have skydrive attached to it and if the whole hotmail account if wype, it could mean skydrive, msn messenger and everything else attached to it.

Doubt it, they're stored on different servers in different locations.

Phil D said,
Microsoft seems incredibly concerned about the bug.

Yeah, right. Like the router advertising flooding issue... it's by design!

I just read of Paul thurrot and it seems that is one of the internet non-confirmed news, like the black screen of death that was reported, and of course, was totally false. I mean, it is ridiculous how false information can quickly spread through the internet.....ohh well, I still have my email and all the useful features.

ccoltmanm said,
Hotmail was around before the cloud phrase.

Already a group on FB? Geez another wasted FB page.

2 Pages now but both have less than 100 people each and are really stretching this issue thin LOL

This is why I love pop3 with Gmail instead of Imap. I have a backup of all my emails in thunderbird as well as on my 1TB backup drive.

warwagon said,
This is why I love pop3 with Gmail instead of Imap. I have a backup of all my emails in thunderbird as well as on my 1TB backup drive.

Hotmail has POP3 too... get with the times.. lol

warwagon said,
This is why I love pop3 with Gmail instead of Imap. I have a backup of all my emails in thunderbird as well as on my 1TB backup drive.

This is why I run my own email server