Hotmail outage explained and fixed

Windows Live Hotmail received a massive issue one week ago, a crisis that left thousands of users without any messages in their inbox, except a "welcome to Hotmail" default email. After numerous reports on the Internet, the Windows Live team acknowledged the issue and posted an update about the issue.

On December 30, 2010, reports began to flood the Internet that users had a blank inbox. So what exactly happened? According to the Windows Live team blog, the team always tests new accounts with upgrades and usability of their service with scripts to help test for performance and find issues. When issues are discovered, the team looks into them and corrects them. When these accounts have extinguished their use, they are deleted.

However, due to a bug in the system, a number of real accounts were accidentally deleted during this purge, leaving 17,355 users with an empty inbox. Microsoft quickly diagnosed the issue and corrected it. By January 2, 2011, a total of 16,035 users had received their inbox back and by January 5, 2011, the remaining 1,320 users had been recovered. In total, 100% of the users affected by the issue had been corrected.

The strange thing about this issue, is that it's similar to a story we ran back in October about a user named Andrew Harnaman, who logged into his inbox one day and found it to be empty. According to recent contacts with Andrew, he never did recover those lost emails.

The Hotmail team went on to say they have learned from the issue and took precautionary measures to make sure an issue like this never occurs again.

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19 Comments

rakeshishere said,
Moral of the story- Do not store everything on the cloud
depends how important or secure it needs to be... cloud is perfectly fine, plus i'm sure the companies supporting whatever cloud services you use have much much better backup solutions than you do!

rakeshishere said,
Moral of the story- Do not store everything on the cloud

Not necessarily. If the same thing had happened locally with your emails, you'd have been screwed unless you had a decent backup solution. At least with the cloud you get backups to restore from.

BGM said,
depends how important or secure it needs to be... cloud is perfectly fine, plus i'm sure the companies supporting whatever cloud services you use have much much better backup solutions than you do!
Well my computer doesn't randomly delete the entire drive...

Pam14160 said,
A good reason to stay away from the "Cloud."

Not necessarily. If the same thing had happened locally with your emails, you'd have been screwed unless you had a decent backup solution. At least with the cloud you get backups to restore from.

Majesticmerc said,

Not necessarily. If the same thing had happened locally with your emails, you'd have been screwed unless you had a decent backup solution. At least with the cloud you get backups to restore from.

How would the same thing happen to our local emails though? I don't know about you but I have never had all my emails deleted randomly.

Hotmail has 364 Million users according to comscore. Whatever the actual number. 17,355 users is 0.00005% of their user base! Hardly a massive issue...

For those of you stating not to use the cloud because of this happening to Hotmail, please reflect on the years past news stories as an example. AVG sends out an update that cripples Windows. I believe McAfee did this same thing this year. Viruses can erase harddrives, or make your system not boot without having to totally reinstalling Windows. Harddrive totally dies. There are tons of things locally that can actually happen, even with a backup your not guaranteed it made it through whatever happened to your computer. At least the cloud has the resourses, money, and people to try to make sure your data is safe and secure. Just like the article states, Microsoft learned a lesson after it happened in October. Had it not happened then 17,000 users may have been without their saved email.

I made a Hotmail account and I had not even used it or given the address out yet, but when I finally logged in for the first time a week later I had spam waiting for me. I've had my Yahoo account for nearly ten years and I still rarely get any spam. So not exactly a great first impression of Hotmail.

Spammers send spam to every possible email address they can generate. Johnsmith1@... would be spammed easily but jsmith2468356@... would be less likely to be.

You know what cracks me up about Hotmail is that when I'm writing an email using Hotmail, the actual word "Hotmail" itself is automatically underlined as misspelled. Granted, I'm using a very obscure web browser called Firefox, so it may be a function of this brand new browser not being familiar with (caring about) the couple of Hotmail users out there (364 Million, someone mentioned). I feel like my mother-in-law who still uses AOL for her email!

When have you ever seen the word "Hotmail" in the dictionary? Same goes for nearly all products, brands or companies. Use right click > Add to dictionary if it bothers you.

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