Microsoft confirms Yahoo as phantom data culprit

In the continued investigation of the mysterious Windows Phone 7 phantom data usage, Rafael Rivera has managed to beat Microsoft to the punch and proclaim Yahoo email as the culprit. The mysterious 'phantom' data appeared earlier this month, using excess bandwidth on a users phone, leaving some customers with a higher than normal phone bill.

As Rafael from Withinwindows.com discovered, Yahoo's IMAP server is the root cause of the issue. As he investigated into the matter even further, he discovered that Yahoo's mail response server was sending approximately 25 times the amount of data a regular IMAP server would.

Although the communications aren't sending large chunks of data, times the number of emails you currently have in your Yahoo account, and you can easily rack up the extra few megabytes per sync.

A normal "fetch" response (AIM):

* 1 FETCH (UID 258 BODY[HEADER.FIELDS (MESSAGE-ID)] {81}
Message-Id: [contoso194089-0-1475496219-3-11262342655328369@CONTOSO.COM]
FLAGS (XAOL-RECEIVED XAOL-GOOD XAOL-GOODCHECK-DONE XAOL-CERTIFIED-MAIL XAOL-BILLPAY-MAIL $hasEmbedded))
...
OK FETCH completed

Now, Yahoo's "fetch" response:

X-YMAIL-UMID: 1_1231_AH9SAiosajdifsLGYp8
Delivered-To: rafael@withinwindows.com
Received: by 0.0.0.0 with SMTP id b14cs36932vcd;
        Wed, 24 Nov 2010 09:48:20 -0800 (PST)
[snipped]
Received-SPF: pass (google.com: domain of bxp60spbgycisj582h2kt@contoso.com designates 0.0.0.0 as permitted sender) client-ip=0.0.0.0;
DomainKey-Status: good (test mode)
Authentication-Results: mx.contoso.com; spf=pass (contoso.com: domain of bxp60spbgycisj582h2kt@contoso.com designates 0.0.0.0 as permitted sender) smtp.mail=bxp60spbgycisj582h2kt5hjwxuss6f@contoso.com; domainkeys=pass (test mode) header.From=dummy@contoso.com
DomainKey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; q=dns; c=nofws;
  s=200505; d=email.contoso.com;
  b=[snipped]+CKirfbuapQiU=;
h=Date:Message-ID:List-Unsubscribe:From:To:Subject:MIME-Version:Reply-To:Content-type;
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2010 17:48:39 -0000
Message-ID: [bxp60spbgychw1axh2kt.7412145937.3427@MTA915.CONTOSO.COM]
List-Unsubscribe: [mailto:rm-0bxp60spbgychw1axh2kt@EMAIL.CONTOSO.COM]
From: "Contoso" [dummy@EMAIL.CONTOSO.COM]
To: rafael@withinwindows.com
Subject: This is a test message
MIME-Version: 1.0
Reply-To: "Contoso" [dummy@EMAIL.CONTOSO.COM]
Content-type: multipart/alternative; boundary="=bxp60spbgychw1axh2kt5hjwxuss6f"
...
OK FETCH completed

Microsoft has since confirmed Yahoo as the culprit behind the Windows Phone phantom data. It's recommended that you disable data roaming (Settings -> Cellular -> Data Roaming) for the time being.

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42 Comments

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I don't see how that can be. I got the 'phantom' usage and I don't use Yahoo at all. Don't even have it installed. There is something else to blame.

MissingBonobo said,
I don't see how that can be. I got the 'phantom' usage and I don't use Yahoo at all. Don't even have it installed. There is something else to blame.

Course you don't have it installed, no one does, It's not an app!

Who uses Yahoo on a smartphone?? IMAP was cool 8 years ago, but I want to sync my contacts and calendar as well. Gmail, Hotmail, or Exchange is the way to go.

"Although the communications aren't sending large chunks of data, times the number of emails you currently have in your Yahoo account..."

"Multiplied by" would be a bit better than "times" here.

Funny that Android users come up now with this "oh yeah! that happened to me too!" stuff. And what about yahoo on Iphone? I'm glad that the problem was found, and that it is not at all microsofts fault. I'm also glad I don't use yahoo for my mail. And to those who think it was the feedback thing.... IN YOUR FACE!

Invizibleyez said,
Funny that Android users come up now with this "oh yeah! that happened to me too!" stuff. And what about yahoo on Iphone? I'm glad that the problem was found, and that it is not at all microsofts fault. I'm also glad I don't use yahoo for my mail. And to those who think it was the feedback thing.... IN YOUR FACE!

I'm not 100% certain, but I didn't think there was a Yahoo app for the iPhone (maybe messenger, which I don't think was causing this issue). I thought the Yahoo account can be configured directly into the built in iPhone email app.

RangerLG said,

I'm not 100% certain, but I didn't think there was a Yahoo app for the iPhone (maybe messenger, which I don't think was causing this issue). I thought the Yahoo account can be configured directly into the built in iPhone email app.

That's the same with Windows Phone 7 - there is no Yahoo app, it's just downloading email via imap using the built in email client - the problem being that Yahoo's imap service was sending far, far more data than it should have been.

Of course, it doesn't help when WP7 will shut off your Wi-Fi connection when the screen blanker kicks in. So, even if you are at home, on a Wi-Fi network, once your screen saver activates, you are back to cellular service for your data connection. This is definitely a Microsoft issue that they need to fix.

The Skeptic Canuck said,
Of course, it doesn't help when WP7 will shut off your Wi-Fi connection when the screen blanker kicks in. So, even if you are at home, on a Wi-Fi network, once your screen saver activates, you are back to cellular service for your data connection. This is definitely a Microsoft issue that they need to fix.

There isn't a setting for that? My Android phone does that by default, but I can make change that.

RangerLG said,

There isn't a setting for that? My Android phone does that by default, but I can make change that.


there is a setting to turn off cellular data connection and also to turn it off for specific services or while in roaming. It would be better if 3G/grps would turn off along with Wifi in standby mode. Or to have settings for this behavior.

In this case, I should redact what I said in the previous thread that Microsoft shouldn't have allowed this issue to occur, since it seems out of their hands. That said, had Microsoft called out Yahoo! on this in the first place, people could have taken steps to prevent the problems, instead of just mentioning a "third party" and providing no information and waiting for someone to figure it out themselves.

Microsoft PR should look into a topic called "Transparency and brand trust".

Majesticmerc said,
In this case, I should redact what I said in the previous thread that Microsoft shouldn't have allowed this issue to occur, since it seems out of their hands. That said, had Microsoft called out Yahoo! on this in the first place, people could have taken steps to prevent the problems, instead of just mentioning a "third party" and providing no information and waiting for someone to figure it out themselves.

Microsoft PR should look into a topic called "Transparency and brand trust".

Just maybe Microsoft wasn't 100% sure at the time and wanted to make sure first?

Majesticmerc said,
In this case, I should redact what I said in the previous thread that Microsoft shouldn't have allowed this issue to occur, since it seems out of their hands. That said, had Microsoft called out Yahoo! on this in the first place, people could have taken steps to prevent the problems, instead of just mentioning a "third party" and providing no information and waiting for someone to figure it out themselves.

Microsoft PR should look into a topic called "Transparency and brand trust".


They already said it was Yahoo, what more do you want, blood? Nutter.

neufuse said,

Just maybe Microsoft wasn't 100% sure at the time and wanted to make sure first?

I wonder if MS would have acted in the same way if the suspect was Google and not Yahoo, a MS "partner".............

Fritzly said,

I wonder if MS would have acted in the same way if the suspect was Google and not Yahoo, a MS "partner".............


MS has no problems to screw over its partners if you dont do what MS asks, they'll just walk over you (as a company). They've done it before, and will do it again

and dont forget, Apple and MS are partners too even tho they fight in some of the same areas
and google is just MS1990's style, ofc MS doesnt want to work together with a child versions of themselfs... search engines florished before, who now uses the once huge yahoo? the once huge altavista? etc..etc..? and google is starting to lose its market share (slowly tho).

testman said,
They already said it was Yahoo, what more do you want, blood? Nutter.

Reading comprehension fail. I said "in the first place", as per the following article: http://www.neowin.net/news/mic...phone-7s-phantom-data-issue

Try again, nutter.

@neufuse: Why couldn't microsoft have said "We have confirmed that is most cases the issue is Yahoo! mail, therefore we ask everyone experiencing issues to avoid using Yahoo mail through the mail app until a resolution can be found, and use the mail.yahoo.com web interface instead."? Humility isn't a sign of weakness IMO.

It might be Yahoo, but that's not the only possible reason behind high data usage. Sometimes cellular data might be used instead of wifi, so it's better to turn it off when WiFi is used. Also it's better to turn off sending feedback via cellular data.

might be a yahoo issue, but the bad press has already hurt WP7, since it was originally played off as a WP7 issue until people started to really look into it.... so the damage has already been done... you know there are people that will refuse to believe that it was not microsoft...

Yakuzing said,
Yahoo has been a virus to society for about a decade

As a Yahoo User, I can vouch for that. Remember when they had cases of multiple services doing the same thing? Especially Yahoo 360 and Mesh. That so confusing.

And they are so slow in improving Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Groups. Yahoo Groups is going backwards, and Facebook Groups is gonna smash it once Facebook adds File Dropboxes.

This is very similar as to why we have blocked Yahoo on our corporate network. We found that Yahoo's IM client would get into a loop with its banner ad providers and eat all our bandwidth.
Yahoo = crap coders.

Around Christmas time I checked my bandwidth usage on my Android phone and within 3 days I went from 400megs to 2.5gigs with barely any usage. All thanks to Yahoo Mail and Messenger. Mostly my fault for forgetting to uninstalling it after checking to see if it was any good, but still. No reason for it to suck that much data. Now I just keep data off when not in use and make sure to never install anything from Yahoo again.

Sounds like this could be solved by a Yahoo server reconfiguration without many ill effects, since I can't see they need all this security-related information. That's more like internal info for their own mail service, i.e. DomainKeys and authentication results as for why something may have got filtered as spam, etc. It already *is* filtered though, so this stuff sounds mostly useless by the time it reaches people's phones.

Why are only WP7 users affected? Only WP7 users use Yahoo mail? Only WP7 users are observant? Sounds weird and none of the explanations make sense.

dsbig said,
I have yahoo on my android phone and I had to disable it because it was draining my battery and network

Very interesting. I guess issues with Yahoo go well beyond WP7...

M_Lyons10 said,

Very interesting. I guess issues with Yahoo go well beyond WP7...


I've got Yahoo! mail on my oh-so-unfashionable Symbian phone, can't say that i've noticed this as a problem at all TBH, (nor any excessive battery drain for that matter) but then again I get unlimited internet for free on my pre pay tariff, so not overly fussed either way

I dont know why anyone would use Yahoo for anything - it grated my when I had to create an account just to use flickr!

duddit2 said,
I dont know why anyone would use Yahoo for anything - it grated my when I had to create an account just to use flickr!

Contradiction?
You don't know why anyone would use yahoo for anything, but then chose to use a yahoo service

duddit2 said,
I dont know why anyone would use Yahoo for anything - it grated my when I had to create an account just to use flickr!

Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger User here. I'm trying to get rid of Yahoo lately, except for Mail and Messenger.

- Yahoo Flickr: I use Facebook and deviantArt.com for photos

- Yahoo Groups: When Facebook Groups relaunched, I immediately migrated to it.

- Yahoo Messenger: Still a bit dependent on it, because of my contacts, and we use it at work. Trying to replace this with Facebook Chat.

- Yahoo 360: I smelled that these will flop. Good thing I migrated all my blog posts to Facebook Notes.

- Yahoo Mail: Most difficult to get away from. I am hoping Microsoft will buy Yahoo Mail, and back it with the Windows Live UI and Servers. And no, I won't use GMail, Google is Evil when it comes to privacy.

thenonhacker said,

- Yahoo Mail: Most difficult to get away from. I am hoping Microsoft will buy Yahoo Mail, and back it with the Windows Live UI and Servers. And no, I won't use GMail, Google is Evil when it comes to privacy.

u know what ... MS doesn't buy anything to save people. Everything they do, they do it for business not you.

thenonhacker said,

- Yahoo Flickr: I use Facebook and deviantArt.com for photos

Ohk...now it's time to try Flickr. Facebook makes image quality very poor and deviantART? Ohh com'on man good photographers never go there.

Am I talking to a Yahoo Employee here?

Faisal Islam said,
u know what ... MS doesn't buy anything to save people. Everything they do, they do it for business not you.

Huh? Who claimed that Microsoft is Not doing it for business?


Faisal Islam said,
Ohk...now it's time to try Flickr. Facebook makes image quality very poor and deviantART? Ohh com'on man good photographers never go there.

I don't need Flickr and their Paid Pro subscriptions just to support higher-resolution images, when I can get those for free on deviantArt.

Plus, maybe you're confusing Facebook with Friendster? Cuz all the High-Res Photos uploaded to Facebook looked at par with the ones on Flickr.

I hope that the rumor where Facebook will acquire Flickr comes true. While waiting, check this Flickr to Facebook Uploader. People wanted this, so here it is: http://www.keebler.net/flickr2facebook/

Recon415 said,
Funny, because I saw users post here on the first article that it was yahoo.

Yeah, it has been known for quite a while that Yahoo was to blame. But now we have proof and, additionally, Microsoft has confirmed it.