Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Your IP address is available to every website you visit, including Hotmail.

Does Hotmail store the IP address of every computer used to login to a Hotmail email account even if no email was sent from some of those computers?

In this excerpt from Answercast #12, I look at how and why IP addresses are stored and speculate on how long Hotmail might keep them.

Does Hotmail store your IP address?

"Probably" is the best answer that I can give you.

I will say this: almost every website and web server (and Hotmail is nothing more than a website) is probably logging the IP address of all of the computers that download pages from that site.

For example, when you visit Ask Leo!, when you posted your question, my web server kept a log. It said that "this IP address" visited "this page" and on "this time and date."

And I'm sure that services like Hotmail and other large email services are doing exactly the same thing.

It's a fundamental way that most web servers behave. They simply log all accesses.

Do they keep IP addresses?

The real question with a service like Hotmail, a service that's used so incredibly much, is how long do they keep those records? How long do they keep those logs?

I know that on a service like mine; on a server like mine where it's just a single website, and I've got a certain amount of traffic, and I have lots of disk space on the server, it really isn't an issue. The logs don't accumulate to be that much.

However, Hotmail is visited by millions of computers every day. Those logs must be enormous. There may not be a reason for them to keep them forever. They may elect to decide to delete them after a certain amount of time.

How long do they retain IP address logs?

The question is: what's that certain amount of time?

It could be an hour; it could be a day; it could be a week; it could be a month; it could be years; we simply don't know and Hotmail isn't saying. They will not tell you because they reserve the right to change that behind the scenes on a whim. As soon as they make it public, they're restricted from being able to do that.

So, the short answer is "Yea." They probably do have your IP address and every IP address of every computer that is used to login to Hotmail.

They have it for at least awhile.

There's no way to really count on it. The bottom line is that unless you have a court order that will force them to turn over that kind of information they won't provide it to you any way.

Article C5252 - April 26, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

1 Comment
April 27, 2012 8:35 AM

When you send someone a message through Hotmail, your IP address is passed along to the recipient in the e. mail's header.

The IP address isn't obvious, as the full header is not normally displayed by e. mail applications and web mail pages. However, if you select something like "View message source" (as on the Hotmail drop-down next to "Reply"), you should see it.

Hotmail is not the only free e. mail provider to do this.

That's actually unrelated to the article. For the record I've found email systems like Hotmail and Gmail and others to be VERY inconsistant about including the IP address in the header. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.