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

MSN Hotmail will delete your information, and even delete your account, if you don't use it often enough. I cover those numbers, and what you should really be doing instead anyway.

I'm about to go on a trip for a while, and I want to make sure I don't lose any of my on-line information. I keep a lot of important emails and contact information in my MSN Hotmail account. If I don't login for a while, how soon will Hotmail discard it?

You keep important things in your Hotmail account?

And only in your Hotmail account?


In case you haven't guessed, that's one of my pet peeves. Let's look at why, and what you should be doing. And we'll answer your question too.

The answer to your specific question is easy. From MSN Hotmail's on-line help:

If you don't sign in to your Hotmail account for more than 30 days, or within the first 10 days after signing up for a new account, all messages, folders, and contacts are marked for deletion, but the account name is still reserved. If the account stays inactive for a further 90 days, the account name is permanently deleted.

Let's analyze that a bit.

  • If you create a Hotmail account, and then don't use it for 10 days, your email and contacts are deleted.

  • If you've been using your Hotmail account and for some reason fail to login for 30 days, your email and contacts are deleted.

  • If you fail to login for 90 days the account name will be deleted - meaning that someone else could come along and create a new account, reusing that same name.

What's this "marked for deletion" thing? What it means is that your email might not actually be deleted on (say) the 31st day of inactivity - but it could be, when Hotmail gets around to it.

And once deleted, it cannot be recovered.

"...I regularly get reports of people losing important information from their MSN Hotmail accounts."

So now that I've answered your question, why am I so concerned about you keeping important things only in your Hotmail account?

Because I regularly get reports of people losing important information from their MSN Hotmail accounts. Be it because of account inactivity as I've discussed here, connectivity issues, accounts being lost or hacked ... it's a regular occurrence.

And there's no recourse.

I strongly encourage you to read my article on free email accounts: Are free email services worth it? for more details, and what I believe you need to be doing instead.

But if you insist on staying with only Hotmail, then yes, make sure you login at least once every 30 days, or your information my be irretrievably lost.

Article C2821 - October 25, 2006 « »

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?

Jorge Aguilar Quijano
October 27, 2006 6:25 PM

Hello, Leo. I have "Hotmail Plus" and I pay $20 dollars a year in Mexico. This account does not delete any messages no matter if you do not login in six months or in seven... Thank you, excuse my English, please... Jorge.

October 29, 2006 8:28 AM

How do i put an automessage up on msn?

Eli Coten
November 5, 2006 7:23 AM

I think Gmail might have a similar 90-day inactivity limit, but I'm not 100% sure about that. Could someone confirm?

November 8, 2006 5:21 AM

I believe GMail is 9 months. Don't for whatever reason use hotmail. I've had too many issues with them over ten years, and in addition the interface is crap.
Besides, unless you pay for the Plus/Live account you can't POP3 to back up your valuable data. Microsoft are bing left way behind again.

william reynolds
November 27, 2006 4:50 PM

i have not checked my email in about 2months my question is do i still have it

Leo Notenboom
November 27, 2006 4:58 PM

Any reason you can't just login and see for yourself?

Sharon Carter
December 2, 2006 12:12 AM

Why doesn't my hotmail open? I receive the following message, (pictures will not copy). My son's hotmail opens, so ithe problem is not hotmail, but rather something else. I do not know anything about windows "live," I only want access to my hotmail inbox.

Thank you,

"Windows Live ID is unavailable from this site for one of the following reasons:

This site may be experiencing a problem.

The site may not be a member of Windows Live ID.

You can:

You can sign in or sign up at other Windows Live ID sites and services, or try again later at this site.

attique chohan
December 27, 2006 9:31 AM

i want to make new hotmail ID.

January 5, 2007 7:54 PM

When I send a message to a client, my sent box is still empty like it didn't send it. How can I keep track of the messages I send if the sent box won't record them?
Thank You

January 31, 2007 12:14 AM

how to delete my hotmail?send me a message and teach me how?i have 2 accounts if i delete one will it affect the other one?

February 13, 2007 12:25 PM

I have tried many times with my "new" XP (yes, just as the most recent incarnation comes out, I opt to go from 2000 to XP)to sign in to a hotmail account I've had for several years. So "liveid" doesn't work and I get this message: You can sign in or sign up at other Windows Live ID sites and services, or try again later at this site.

My question is "what the heck does it mean?" What other sites and services? I have tried again, later. I'm so frustrated.

mable pope
March 5, 2007 4:38 AM

can I keep this address?

C.L.Beaumont - Rydings
March 5, 2007 11:23 AM

I have been in a fog of Windows Live Beta. I can't get rid of the thing. Can you? Also as I use my account with hotmail most days do I really have to sign in again? As it is I can't access my e mails. Please get me back to your site asap. Thank you.

Susie Jensen
March 11, 2007 3:34 PM

I have sent several e-mails out today. I went into sent mail and they are not showing up. I thought that they stayed 30 days. what's happening here. I wanted to move some of them to other folders and they should still be here for at least 15 minutes,

Leo Notenboom
March 11, 2007 5:06 PM

Hash: SHA1

You probably want this article:

Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


June 30, 2007 3:51 AM

I haven't been able to open any emails in my hotmail account for about a week now. it comes up with error on page down the bottom. i can log into my account i just can't read any of my emails! Please help!

August 31, 2007 2:51 PM

i cant be able to open my account for last four days.but other account open through my laptop.its urgent please tell me what should i do.

Rosemarie Teresi
September 15, 2007 2:18 PM

I had MSN Hotmail , how I ended up with Windows live I hate it ! How can I get my old set up back with MSN ????????????????

Leo A. Notenboom
September 17, 2007 9:09 AM

Hash: SHA1

You probably can't go back - Windows Live Hotmail is the replacement for the
old MSN Hotmail. More here:


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


April 17, 2008 12:11 PM

Hi Leo:

Wonderful website here. I am having a problem trying to set up my son for email. I have a Dell Computer and have installed Windows Live and the MSN Hotmail. I have both icons on my desktop. Today I went to CONTROL PANEL and added my son as a user. I set up his desktop, etc. Looks great. Even the email icon was there already. I opened it and of course it can not be used as he is not set up for an email account. I closed out of his area and went to my area. I am the computer administrator, obviously. Went to my email and MSN area and looked for add user. Couldn't find a place to do that. Thankfully my hubby has not asked for his own area on the computer,just uses my email address and stuff to search the internet. But for my son, I wanted him to have his own spot. He is twenty years old and will be moving back in with us after losing his job in the housing industry. Can you tell me how to set up email for him? I went to HOTMAIL and MSN on the internet and tried to see if there was a place there to add people. The MSN and HOTMAIL go directly to my account page. I was afraid to temporarily allow his account to have administrative privelages and then install either MSN or Live because I thought it would wreck my settings on the computer. I am totally lost and need your help. I want to have this set up for my son so that when he arrives in a week this is ready to go.


amanda johnson
June 15, 2008 2:54 AM

never use msn for anything important. mine regularly deletes everything. i will log on and all my emails and instant messenger contacts are perminantly gone. i use my account daily so theres no period of inactivity, just msn deciding to mess me around. never use it as your main email account.

June 21, 2008 8:16 AM

How does this relate to Windows Live Messenger? I mean, if my msn account is closed, will my name disappear from my contacts contact lists? If so, does this happen after 30 or 90 days?

June 26, 2008 3:18 AM

this is outrageous! my hotmail account is deleted, and worse, I lost all my MSN contacts! can you feel me? all these people i will never speak to again, thanks microsoft

July 7, 2008 12:34 PM

I have had e-mails stored in folders in my hotmail box for years and when i logged in today they had all but vanished. I only have new -emails received left, can i get them back. i have searched through deleted etc.

July 10, 2008 12:15 PM

Why can't I open my hotmail messages? I can open my hotmail account but can't read any messages. Please help me urgently with your kind reply. Thank you in advance, Lazarus

July 16, 2008 8:41 AM

why in the hell would they replace completely their old setup with this new one and not tranfer information to it? thievery is why. this is the second company to completely switch over to a whole new format and not save the information to the new format. how can they do this with absolutely no notice to their customers? MS wants yahoo only to f*** it up more than it already is. both companies steal emails and close accounts, this is just not right. anyone doing any kind of business with either will be extremely dissappointed. yahoo groups is the pits as well.

Jean Edwards
August 16, 2008 12:34 PM

telephone number for grandmas kitchen

August 20, 2008 1:53 PM


I've said it over and over and over again: never use a free service like Hotmail for anything important, especially a business. More: Are free email services worth it?


Richard Mustered
September 13, 2008 10:33 PM

I switched from ATTT to COM cast some how my hotmail account password (doorgunner) got changed my hotmail was rick_mustered@ I have it for years yes bring out the ruler and I'll hold my hand out. I've stored letters jokes pictures having to due with Am Vets post 30 when I try to change it it sends the msg there if I try to go though live it wants me to change that password TY in advance for your time and help.

Aftab Ahmed
October 15, 2008 8:51 AM

I have many information in my account, how can Hotmail delete my information ? It is not good . They have very bad thinking.

October 17, 2008 7:18 AM

since they have changed the format I can receive my mail but I cannot scroll down to read it, and I see no place to send mail out,

October 18, 2008 11:28 AM

I've read several of your comments here but I have one question. If an account owner has not used the account in 90+ days and an email is sent to that acct., will it bounce back mailer daemon or will it appear to have gone through as though the acct. is still operable?

It may, or it may not. We don't know, and even if we did, we couldn't count on it. This article has more: When will Hotmail return an undeliverable message?

Realize also that after some period of time a new user could come in and open a new account with the same email address, at which point email "shouldn't" bounce, but instead be delivered to this new account.
- Leo

November 8, 2008 2:14 AM

I logged on my hotmail yesterday and it was a totally new version and it lost alot of my attached pictures...Im a dog rescuer and I need the pics of these dogs Im trying to save.

I have no answer on recovering anything lost in your Hotmail account. It happens with unfortunately regularity for various reasons. It's one of the reasons I so strongly recommend that you never use a free email account as the sole repository for anything important. Back it up, somehow, and/or use a commercial email account with support.
- Leo

Imelda J.Grantham
November 11, 2008 12:29 AM

How can I open my e-mails.I have been a member of msn since 1996.I have new e-mails and I cannot even read my new ones.I can see senders but I cannot open or read them.Do I need to pay every year or did I cancel my account accidentally?I need answers to these questions.ASAP

Anne Alban
November 25, 2008 6:02 PM

Where did my email account go, it just stopped working.

David Banzhof
January 12, 2009 11:07 AM

I have a msn account,I used to have in my account that I could send pictures faster I just cant think of it.I think it cost $19.95 a year can you help me I mis what ever that was.Thanks Dave

January 19, 2009 5:34 PM

I have had this e-mail address for 7 years and now you cancel it. what it up. I got no notice. now I do not have an E-mail address & can not get into it.

I didn't cancel anything. I am not Hotmail. I am not Microsoft. Without knowing more about your situation, I also can't help.
- Leo

John W. Miller
February 2, 2009 10:22 AM

I want to keep Windows Live Photo Galley, But I want to delete my MSN account cause I don't use it.If I deleter, will I loose It?

Bev Tonander
February 7, 2009 6:48 PM

I just got Quest yesterday and I cannot pick up my e-mails from the [personal email address removed] address. What has happened to them? There are about 60 or more I haven't even had the chance to read yet. When I put in [personal email address removed] it gives me the quest hotmail address. I need to get them back. I don't want to be sorry I went to Quest.

raymond simms
March 20, 2009 6:47 AM

when I try to forward an e-mail I keep getting asked to verify my account.How do I do this?

Ruffo de Cuba
April 6, 2009 7:38 AM

I unknowingly opened a account and can't open my hotmail account now.I have a lot of unread mail in that account and don't want to lose them.Pls. let me know how to recover them.
Thank you.

First off, Hotmail and Live are the same thing ... it's Windows Live Hotmail now. So you actually just have two accounts. You should be able to Sign Out of one account by clicking Sign Out in the upper right, and then sign in to the other account.
- Leo

Ed Courtney
April 13, 2009 4:45 PM

I acquired the above address about two months ago, about the time I acquired a computer. The first odd thing I noticed was McAfee insisted on calling me by XXXX name and wouldn't/couldn't straighten it out. I resolved that by using TrendMicro.

Then I found that Ebay and Dell Store also insisted I was XXXX name and Ebay still does. Too bad, plenty more will gladly accept my money.

The topper was when I received a credit union monthly statement Emailed to my address under name XXXX. I didn't open the statement and apparently the credit union corrected their records, after I notified them.

This explains what happened with my new Email address. Thanks.

July 9, 2009 7:15 AM

I cancelled my Hotmail account manually. How long before it's deleted?

lyn owen
January 18, 2010 7:55 AM

Is there anything I can do about my hotmail acct. I still have although no emails coming through, have cleared all old emails to clear the way. folders etc are still there It maybe that they have are closing me due to inactivity, although all emails are synchronised with my incrediamail acc. I didnt realise that that they are still kept on hotmail as well, so they weren't deleted there. Can this be rectified to enable me to continue using the acc. Not sure if answer will be recd by email

Robin Wallace
March 29, 2010 2:29 PM

I have been receiving an email from windows live about closing down my account which I use everyday for business and personal reasons saying that if I don't send in my email address, password, birthdate, and country then my email will be closed within 48 hours. Do you know what this is or what is going on?

It's a SCAM - more here: Is Windows Live Hotmail about to close my account?

April 19, 2010 1:54 PM

If I hace active my hotmail accoount, but I synchronised it with POP3 through gmail, so I dont open it directly from hotmail server but have my hotmails msg on gmail, does it counts as openning, or any way i have to got to hotmail every 30 days and open it?

January 10, 2011 11:58 AM

I haven't logged into my account for over 5 years, and emailing it gives system undeliverable. I try to create a new account using that name, and it says unavailable. Any idea whats up?

February 25, 2011 5:27 PM

i havent logged on to my account for nine months. And before that over a year. Today i remembered my password and my account is still there, and spam keeps filling the inbox.

It's very possible that using other services like Windows Live Messenger, or other Windows Live services using that same account would keep it open.

May 5, 2011 5:41 AM

How long does your msn email address stay active for? 9 months ago my friends msn email address was closed and now all of a sudden it's working again, could it be my friend or a different person? i'm not getting any answer.

Mark J
May 5, 2011 5:48 AM

@Carla: the answer to your question can be found in the article,

August 13, 2011 11:13 AM

I delete my hotmail account on hotmail and the service of windows live and don't opened since. ( I did all the steps, good) But I open a different account before delete this one and make as a friend on windows live the account I was about to delete... But when open this new account on live messenger the old account it's still there... I don't want to go to the old account and try to delete again,(since I know if I do this will reactive it) but my question is...How long does it takes to be delete? I read your post and say 90 days's not just inactive I DELETE... following all the steps.. on 29 July 2011.. It's also 90 days? And can someone still send messages to this old account? Thanks in advance

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.