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

Once messages are permanently deleted on HotMail they're gone. If you've lost important messages that were deleted on HotMail, or any webmail service, you need to rethink your approach to email.

I forgot to login to my HotMail account for a while, and today when I logged in it was suspended for lack of use. I re-opened it, but this means I've lost all my previous mails which included some really important ones.

Is there any way to get them back? In particular there was a folder which contained very important mails.


I know of no way to get your messages (or any contacts) back once they have been permanently deleted from HotMail. Whether it's you deleting them accidentally, or HotMail clearing the account for lack of use, permanent is permanent. The messages are gone.

Here's what I recommend you do ...

This will sound harsh, but you need to learn from this lesson.

Stop using HotMail.

I'm serious. Stop using HotMail, or for that matter any web-based email service for anything that you would consider to be "important".

If your email and your contacts are truly important, if losing them would be a serious problem for you, as it apparently has, then invest in a 'real' POP3 email account from an email service provider or from your ISP. Then use a 'real' email program like Outlook, or Eudora, or Thunderbird or any of a number of other good email programs that run on your machine to manage your email.

Then make sure to back up. Regularly.

Take control, and more importantly, take responsibility, for the safety of your email. If it's really that important, then relying on a third party like HotMail to "do the right thing" or even just to always be there is simply asking for trouble.

Don't get me wrong - services like HotMail have their place - they're useful tools when used for the right jobs. I have Hotmail and Yahoo accounts myself. But they're not appropriate for anything you would consider to be important. I hear too many reports every day of people that have lost their email, their contacts, or even access to the account for me to put it any other way.

Now, there is currently one alternative that's what you might call the best of both worlds: Google's GMail. It's a free web-based mail service that includes POP3 and SMTP mail download and send. It's a fine service to use as long as you make sure to download to your own mail client, on your own machine, and then back up regularly. Leaving all your information on Google's server is convenient and fast and all that, but if it's the only place you leave it, then when (not if) there's ever a problem you're back were you started - you're still screwed.

"Take control, and more importantly, take responsibility, for the safety of your email."

If it seems like I'm coming down hard on free email services - I am. Or rather, I'm coming down hard on people that rely on them too heavily.

If it seems like a pet peeve of mine - it is. I've written on it before.

It's not some random opinion or a prejudice I walked in with. I've come to this conclusion by the sheer number of people who ask similar questions: they've lost important emails, contact lists, or more - simply because there was a problem with their free web based email account. And I get these reports every single day.

Folks, "free" just isn't worth it if what you're dealing with is important to you or to your business.

Email and contacts: own it, download it, and back it up.

Article C2762 - August 20, 2006 « »

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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?

Dan Geiser
August 20, 2006 4:26 PM

Hi, Leo,
Both current versions of Outlook and Outlook Express can be configured to download e-mail messages from Hotmail onto your local machine just like the alternative you describe above using Gmail.

Dan Geiser

Leo Notenboom
August 20, 2006 4:36 PM

That's actually not true. New free HotMail accounts no longer support downloading into Outlook, and it's being phased out for existing account. This article has more:

Lenny Vasbinder
August 28, 2006 4:06 PM

Something you could have touched on with this person is whether they have the Google Desktop Search Program or one of the other ones. My GDSP saves a copy of each web page I visit so there is a chance they could do a key word search for hotmail emails they are looking for and they may find them on GDSP.

August 31, 2006 6:28 AM

please help me get my deleted hotmails deleted by hotmail clearing after i not using it for 1 motnth please help me

September 7, 2006 11:54 AM

I would like to know how to retreive a reply mesage from my hotmail account.

yousef amrani
November 4, 2006 6:37 AM

i need my messages back

November 5, 2006 7:02 AM

i need my deleted messages

November 25, 2006 9:30 PM

i want my all deleted messages back.

December 31, 2006 2:54 PM


Leo Notenboom
January 1, 2007 6:31 PM

Try to create the new address ... if it works, you can have it, if not, you can't.

January 7, 2007 7:55 PM

Hi Leo,
My myspace is deleted!
I did it up, when i got
back from my hols.. it was gone!!
Can i get it back?

January 17, 2007 9:38 AM

Hi leo, look, Ive read what you wrote, but, I deleted some mails, and now I want they back,so is there any chance to get them back?

Leo Notenboom
January 17, 2007 9:47 AM

If you read what I wrote, you know the answer is no.

February 2, 2007 3:05 AM

you must find a way for deleted mail because others are deleted accidentally please, please

Hyipo Network
February 2, 2007 10:13 PM

Leo, our problems are over. We can use Web-based email while protecting our important messages.

Why not use YPOPs, FreePOPs, or something similar to that. I think it's open source too.

and yes It's Legal cause it acts like a gateway and doesn't hack pop3 or anything.

Also people can use it to download emails and move it into the Trash then delete it.

People can also backup their emails onto USB Drives.

I hope this is on topic but I believe this information will help you and all your visitors.

sachin singh
February 21, 2007 7:33 PM

Dear Leo ,
I urgently need my all deleted messages on Hotmail upto 1 month before only.

April 11, 2007 8:30 AM

you mention backing up gmail to somewhere on your own computer... how do you do that?

Carolyn Powell
May 4, 2007 11:58 AM

Hi Leo,
Just a quick query. I've noticed that a batch of my emails have disappeared from my inbox. I only use this address for non-important emails, but just wondered why the have disappeared.
Can you help?

kate nolan
June 4, 2007 12:49 PM

hi leo i got a message from telling me how to confirm my email address and i accidently deleted the message and could not confirm my email address can u help me to get the message back from stardoll??

Leo A. Notenboom
June 5, 2007 9:12 AM

Hash: SHA1

I'm not familiar with stardoll, but most sites will allow you to ask for the
confirmation to be resent.



Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


June 18, 2007 10:37 PM

Hi,Leo!I was unable2access my hotmail ID for few months.But when I opened it a week ago,all my inbox items have been deleted.But my access to the account was not at all restricted. How come this happen?I treasured few important items in the inbox.I havent deleted them nor anyone did that. That's for sure. One thing more. I found the earlier version of hotmail is no more there. Plz help to get my mails back and let me know at [Email Address Removed]
Thanking you in anticipation.

August 16, 2007 6:13 PM

Hi Leo,

I transfered my yahoo mail history to my outlook but forgot to mark the "leave messages on inbox" and they got deleted from my yahoo inbox. However I've got them on my outlook, How can I forward them to yahoo again simultaneously so they end up separately as they originally where?

August 22, 2007 3:54 AM

I have clicked on unsafe mail by mistake on my hotmail and I have lost one of my emails, I try to look into inbox, deleted mail and junks it is not there, could anyone help me how to recover this email

October 15, 2007 7:14 AM

Hello Leo,
Like many people experiencing the same hotmail problems - I became a "victim" of Windows Live Hotmail myself losing all my Messages and Contacts twice in a short space of time. Naturally I use other e-mail Services like Outlook and IncrediMail to store and backup important messages.But.. it's not always naivety or stupidity of free Account Users to preasume that "things are safe" simply because they were safe for years. I totally blame Microsoft for the latest change in Hotmail Policies costing people the whole world of misery losing important or sentimental post. It's no good informing Custemers in "small print", or on some Help pages what will happen if the Account is not activated or signed in every 30 days, or even 120 as they now state.Or for that matter what will happen if you change from MSN Hotmail to Windows Live. It ought to be a PRIME MESSAGE IN RED, a prime Warning before MSN Hotmail changed to a "fancy" Windows Live. Have we all missed that message?? Did anyone said "hey all you free account users, be aware, all your messages will dissapeare".. I myself am not "stuck" in yesterday world and welcome Progress and Improvement!. It's that feeling of suddenly having egg on once's face and sinking dissbelieve that someone can take LIBERTIES with your stuff that angers me most of all. Without proper warning. I like to be naive when I chose so.. Being naive is'nt the worst thing that people might come over as. BULLING is. Not everyone constantly have acces to internet, some of us do have to attend things or people in our everyday life away from our computers and internet, but if in a process we find we are being ROBBED (that's exactly what Microsoft is doing with someones "property" and without any concideration!)- it's almost criminal. I had hotmail Account since Feb 2000 and kept all kind of, yes, sentimental messages and family pictures there. All gone. I have been giving that alternative address of mine to too many people to even remember. For the very first time in years it's not safe. Is that Progress?? Closing that Account in protest will not change a thing. Drop of water in the ocean. What else can be done??? Microsoft wouldn't be where it is now without us, Customers.. Trust me, I'm not a massive anty-Microsoft protester either. I simply like fair play.Kind Regards.

November 24, 2007 6:30 PM

my husband deleted his windows hotmail by mistake with important mail on there is there any way possible to retrieve his hotmail?

November 30, 2007 6:39 AM

i have read your site about deleted messages and inactivity and not being to retreive them. But i hear that all emails are kept on a adatabase by law for 1 year is this true? Does that mean the police can retreive emails even if the account was deleted say back in april 07?

December 14, 2007 9:13 AM

I'm a paying hotmail customer. Yesterday a day and a half of both my inbox and outbox disappeared. I contacted customer support and they are giving me the excuse that an "unauthorized person" accessed my account and did this. Do I have any hope of retrieving these messages from them? Thanks

December 25, 2007 4:53 AM

i just recently accessed my account again and have difficulty receiving certain mails. i read of this 30 sign in period and am not sure what the problem is. I have access my account but don't receive some emails.
Appreciate your assistance.

December 31, 2007 2:05 PM

i left my msn messnger running and someone deleted my important contacts. they were email adds of people who live very far away and all i had to contact them were their email there anyway of getting those deleted adds back or seeing what contacts got deleted? please help.i am really upset.they were all childhood friends.

John Reid
January 15, 2008 10:49 AM

Amongst its numerous weaknesses relative to MSN hotmail, Windows Live has a very nasty habit of incinerating newly prepared emails when the send button is hit. No confirmation is given of to whom the email is going, AND no email appears on sent list. It just evaporates and I know of no way of retrieving the carefully prepared text. Can you tell me how and why this occurrs and is there any action one can take to retrieve lost email or to avoid its loss. Copying the text prior to hitting the send key is a solution but easily forgotten and cumbersome. How can Microsoft produce such crap product. MSN never had this type of fault. Why go backwards in product development??? Appreciate your thoughts and help on this one.

March 11, 2008 6:49 PM

I just don't get it. I received ALL my bills on hotmail; sentimental documents; business; personal; and so more hotmail. What is that. Shouldn't they give a warning to copy or delete our files. Now I don't know what to do. Everything is lost...Thanks Leo.

July 22, 2008 3:08 AM

leo my email is not opening ???

August 15, 2008 12:12 PM

I deleted an important email the other day that i recently found out that i need. I deleted it originally and then it went into the deleted folder and then i deleted the "deleted" folder. Is there anyway to recover the emails i deleted out of the deleted folder?

September 12, 2008 3:31 AM

i have read your site about deleted messages and inactivity and not being to retreive them. But i hear that all emails are kept on a adatabase by law for 1 year is this true? How could i retrieve these emails?

I read all comments but did not get any answers.

I've never heard of such a database, and don't believe it exists. I know of no way to retrieve your emails. None.


Noel S. Gonzaga
September 20, 2008 11:50 PM

I just realized that one day somebody sending mesagges including me using my email. The messages is like shopping lines. Even my contacts was lost. How can I retrieve it? Even my msn messenger I cant retrieve it. All my contacts had disappeared.

Please help me.

Karyna D
October 13, 2008 5:16 AM

i was copying all of my friends msn addresses and i hadnt put them on my new account yet when my silly little brother closed everything of screen including all my copied mates which i had pasted into a document, the document didnt save and now i cant get my frind back. is there anyway possible i can gett all my msn friends back, because they r childhood friends :(

November 6, 2008 4:49 AM


November 15, 2008 9:44 AM

I had someone on my live mail say hi to me and they were not on my contacts list.... what is going one

November 26, 2008 1:04 PM

I can't believe you're suggesting to store important e-mail on your physical hard drive. I agree that hotmail is not reliable, but gmail (and others tell me yahoo) is perfectly reliable and allows you to take backup copies or any other information whenever you want.

I say always leave it on hardware that has redundancy and backup built in, not on an inexpensive personal computer hard drive.

You're missing the point of my position.

If you keep it on GMail (or Hotmail, or Yahoo or whatever), and you lose your account for any reason - then everything is gone. Period. You might get lucky and regain access, but from what I hear from people in this position that is by far the exception, not the rule. Most people lose everything. Gone. Period.

I agree that leaving it only on your own hard drive is just as bad. You must backup. The point is that by taking responsibility for your own email and your own backups on your own hardware, you can back up, and you can restore from account loss or other problems that may occur on a "free" web-based service.

- Leo
December 10, 2008 2:29 AM

Is there a way where I can setup in hotmail, if I accidentally delete my messages from the "DELETED" file, that I could retrive it back?

That's exactly what the article you just commented on answers.
- Leo

December 10, 2008 6:44 AM

i want my contact list back i have use my acount for over 2 years and now when i opened it again its all gone... how can i get it back i have important contacts in there

B. Lacy
February 8, 2009 1:25 PM

Altho I now know that deleted emails cannot be retrieved, when I looked in my recyle bin and found a .bak file which I think contained the deleted (desperately important) hotmail draft. I restored it but don't know where it went if it worked. A complete and onerous search of the computer comes up with nothing.

Is there a chance it could be "hiding" somewhere on my computer? (MSN support has been of no help)

PS I did read your article, but still wonder.....

February 24, 2009 6:04 AM

I have "lost" an email of has just dissapeared, I know it sounds really strange, but I cannot find it anywhere and I definately did not delete it. I did all the relevant searches..
Surely that cannot just happen??


J. Schmeets
March 9, 2009 11:53 PM

I just logged into my Hotmail after not accessing it for about six months and everything is gone... my emails, my archives, my contacts... everything. I am astonished and upset. How could this have happened? Is it the new Windows Live interface that did this?? So many years of valuable information is gone it appears... HELP!!!!!!!!!

This is totally expected and been like this since Hotmail started. Your account will be emptied after a period of inactivity. For Hotmail I believe it's 3 months, perhaps only 1 month. I know of no recourse. It's yet another reason not to rely on free email accounts for anything important.
- Leo

Sheryl Spencer
August 19, 2009 12:42 AM

I thought I lost mine too because I did the same thing. I deleted some emails and folders that I was sorry I did. I was suprised to find out though, that when I went to my email through Windows Live (that you can open up through the email tab in msn messenger) they were still there! So if you have msn messenger, try to open up your email icon on that and you might just find a nice suprise.

August 28, 2009 4:14 PM

yes! you might be able to recover some of your deleted messages on the windowslive help team. Here you have to create an account and you will be able to post your problem and they will try to help you.

the link is:

September 8, 2009 7:42 PM

Leo's got it all wrong, as commenter above posted, you can get deleted messages back if you ask the help team fast enough, before the messages are purged from the servers. no idea how long that takes, but i got mine back bcause i asked thm 24 hours after I had deleted everything.

All wrong? I'm glad you got your messages back, and perhaps there's some hope, but the vast majority of people in your situation who try what you've tried are unsuccessful. In most cases and with most free services, one you delete something it's gone. Besides, it's a much safer assumption to make.

November 13, 2009 2:59 PM

Please advice, i received and email im my hotmail inbox, i clicked on it to open and a message came up "can not be opened" and the email disappeared, why ? what happened hear?, can i get this email back?

January 18, 2010 6:03 AM

Can I back up some email message on Hotmail by a
storage somewhere?

February 7, 2010 9:37 PM

I have lost all emails, saved emails and contacts in hotmail, I have reset the password but now the emails still keep being deleted any thoughts??

Thanks :)

John D Butler, FSS
September 21, 2010 10:00 AM

Hotmail with a good email client like MSN premium is as safe as any email which is to say not very.
Never send anything by email that you would not mind seeing on the front page of your newspaper.
If important information information is received by email make a hard copy. All email is hotmail and disappear like hot air and like hot air can end up anywhere!

Dee Boulier
October 9, 2010 12:20 AM

I had someone write a 3 page nasty article about me and it got erassed. It's going to court.How do I go about contacting the help team for facebook to try to get the article back ?

Dee Boulier
October 9, 2010 12:22 AM

I had someone write a 3 page nasty article about me and it got erassed. It's going to court.How do I go about contacting the help team for facebook to try to get the article back ?

October 18, 2010 10:53 AM


Please read this article which discusses your recovery options for the various ways that Hotmail accounts can be lost or compromised: What are my Lost Hotmail Account and Password Recovery Options?

October 27, 2010 10:09 AM

They can't wipe out all the personal things with just a 30 days rule. So I'll sue Microsoft for it.

March 11, 2011 5:39 AM

i losed my all messeges and contects deleted for my mistake its very very importent for me please help me and recover my all data please,i hope u ll help me my hotmail data

Please read the article you just commented on. It answers this question.

Hari Shankar Aryal
June 30, 2011 12:53 AM

i deleted my message just 20 minutes ago and i need that again..

Mark J
June 30, 2011 1:36 AM

If you deleted your email recently and didn't clear your trash, it should still be in your trash bin. The trash bin is only cleared out after a day or so.

October 27, 2011 5:29 PM

I have emptied my " Deleted" folder on hotmail accidentaly and I GOT them all BACK! It is POSSIBLE by an option called " Rcover deleted messages" that is on bottom of screen in the folder " deleted" . I did it within an hour though. not sure how long they stay there.

December 26, 2011 3:49 AM

Deleted e-mail and I want to restore

February 7, 2012 1:58 PM

Thanks Leo for the article & strong recommendations, which I'll sure follow and make follow.
Hotmail lost all emails in my account =(, not contacts nor all old details. I wander in despair.

I wonder, and thought I'd just ask Leo:

What sort/depth of backup do you think Hotmail has? simply none? even for users that pay service?
You worked at Microsoft. What's behind Hotmail's so-called "auto-restore" in deleted email folder? What may their "solution center" moderators have as recovery options?
Why would motivate a hacker to delete all emails in an account?
Now what interest has a free provider in carelessly ruining internet-unsavvy / freewheeling users (fair enough) by not being at least a little safe & reliable? Why seeking to then be trashed after trashing accounts? Is Hotmail just floating above all that? Did they actually recovered people's accounts early 2011 after making the news?
Any good reason to delete an account at all? Why does Hotmail delete account contents after 270 days without user-specific notice to their alternate email? (whereas Gmail tells you 'why delete when you have so much space') Can't people get unexpectedly in hospital say for 9 months?
If it's a matter of memory space, why does Hotmail spam all their own users' accounts with auto-promo daily feed, where they could just provide links all around their pages?

Can we call a provider "free", when they make so much money on showing so many ads around emails?

Thanks again Leo,

March 21, 2012 11:05 AM

one day i tried to enter to my hotmail inbox after 8 months i got it back but choking thing will come later when i discover that all my mails are deleted i was so upset cause i had some important mails i tried to get them back but unfortunately i couldn't get, but i read that there is no possibility to get them back and i hope that MARINA tell me how could you get them? plz tell me :) thank you all

July 18, 2012 11:03 PM

My Hotmail acct. was completely wiped out today even though I was logged in just a few hours before. I'm not sure how to retrieve anything. I did try their deleted email retrieval , I'm here so you see that didn't work. Still waiting for an answer. Thank god I had nothing important on that site. From what I've read in the forums, this has been a problem since at least Jan. of this year, but don't panic everyone, you'll be happy to know they're "looking into the problem". 7 months? Really? You guys are awesome!
All sarcasm aside, I hope everyone can get their email and files restored. Good luck

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