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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