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

People often find themselves in a position where they cannot close their Hotmail account. I'll look at why this might be, and why I'm confused.

I am trying to close this account that I have, but I can't, I don't know why? it says always that I have to close my Windows Live account before I can close Hotmail, and how do I do that? I never joined!

Actually, you did.

There's a common misconception around Hotmail and Windows Live that can lead to this scenario. I'll try to clear that up.

But I have to add: there's something about all of this that I really don't understand.

I see a lot of people getting very upset when, for one reason or another, they can't close their Windows Live Hotmail account.

What I don't understand is this: why? Why do you care so much?

"If you have a Hotmail account, you have a Windows Live account, because they're the same thing."

Closing the account will not necessarily cause email sent to it to bounce.

Closing the account will not notify anyone.

Closing the account will not stop spammers from sending email that "looks like" it came from the account.

Closing the account will not prevent a hacker who already has access to the account from continuing to have access.

So what's the big deal?

It's a free account. If you don't want it any more, delete the email, delete the contacts, and then just stop using it. Don't login; pretend it doesn't exist. If you're not using it why does it matter so much that you can't close it?

As you can tell, I don't get it. Closing a free email account simply isn't that important.

Remove all your information from the account and simply stop using it - that's all you need to do.

The common misconception: when you create a Windows Live Hotmail account, you're creating an account not just for Windows Live Hotmail, but for any and all of the Windows Live, formerly MSN, services.

If you have a Hotmail account, you have a Windows Live account, because they're the same thing.

In fact, that same account identifier - your @hotmail.com or @live.com email address - is your account login for services like:

  • MSN Messenger, now known as Windows Live Messenger, and Windows Messenger

  • MSN/Windows Live Photos

  • MSN/Windows Live Spaces

  • MSN/Windows Live Groups

  • Any custom MSN home page

  • Your old ".net Passport"

  • MSN/Windows Live Hotmail

  • more...

Any of those, and more, are all associated with your single login based on your hotmail or live email address.

And, you can't close one without closing them all - by closing your entire account. For example, if you close your Hotmail account, you're also closing your MSN Messenger account, because they're the same thing.

So make sure you want to close everything associated with the account when you decide it's time to close your Hotmail account.

Windows Live does warn about other services - particularly if you've ever purchased something through a Windows Live service, or signed up for a for-pay service. That, apparently, needs to be closed separately (I do wish they would say exactly what services it's located that fall into this category.)

But realize, that it could be just about anything you've ever done on MSN, Hotmail, Messenger, Windows Live or more - because it's all really one account.

And if you give up in frustration? Well, then you've done the right thing, because as I mentioned above, simply walking away from the account after removing any and all personal data is by far the easiest approach to take.

So tell me, what am I missing? What is it about closing a Hotmail account that makes it so important?

Article C3918 - November 1, 2009 « »

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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.

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22 Comments
Mark Jacobs
November 1, 2009 11:27 AM

I have a couple of email addresses that I've "closed" that is I stopped using them. I do, however, check them aoout once a month because a couple of times I've received an email from a long lost friend whom I hadn't contacted about my change of address who wrote me at that "closed" address. If you don't feel like logging on to that address you can add that acct to your email client and click on it periodically and comb through the spam and possibly find a valuable email.

Mary
November 2, 2009 4:44 AM

If an email account is closed, the email service provider will eventually allow someone else to choose that user name (the name that appears to the the left of the @ sign.) Even if your user name is unique, there's always the possibility that someone else will apply for and receive that name. Personally, I'm paranoid enough to not want someone else "impersonating" me. So as suggested, just stop using the email account but check it periodically for incoming mail.

jim
November 3, 2009 6:45 AM

but i don't use or want MSN, Hotmail, Messenger, or Windows Live. yet when i tried to remove windows live, NOTHING would run, so i had to restore to a previous date. i'm using a wimpy laptop w/o much juice, & all this sneaky windows crap that gets loaded on surreptitiously results in a very slow machine.

Ken Laninga
November 3, 2009 8:01 AM

SUPER, Leo, just yesterday I was "complaining" (lower case "c") that I thought I had closed my Hotmail account and then found to my surprise that it still existed. NO problem; I agree 100% with you. Thanks for the excellent answer and PERFECT Timing!

George C.
November 3, 2009 12:20 PM

In my case the email is of no concequence, its the other crap that occurs. The other crap?, the automatic MSN butterflies that appear in the FAVORITES tool bar everey month. How do I get rid of it?????

Dan
November 3, 2009 7:14 PM

Microsoft will gather some data most of it useless from keeping the account open. The agreement that you signed electronically by pushing "I agree" will stay. You just have to wait for the EU to slam them with another privacy violation. Best is to uninstall or block as much as possible of Microsoft products to plug some information that my leak that way. It is a matter of trust.

Charles Tilley
November 3, 2009 11:22 PM

What's wrong with Hotmail? I receive a lot less spam with their service. With Yahoo!, I receive up to 25 or 30 spams each and every day. Someone (usually a crook from another country) is always sending "money transfer" requests or inheritance from people I don't even know. Never once have I received such crap on Hotmail. We live in a free country, do as you wish, but I love Hotmail (and Operamail is also good, but not as good as Hotmail).

Alex Netherton
November 5, 2009 6:18 AM

Hey Jim, it is not that you are subscribed to Windows Live or Hotmail, it is that you are letting it (Windows Live or MSN Messenger) run at startup. No amount of opting out of accounts or closing them will help. Go to the "Start" button (or orb, if in Vista), go to "run" in XP, type in "msconfig" (without the quotes), go to the "selective startup" thingie, and find Windows Live or MSN Messenger in there , and turn it off. Problem solved.You can have a hundred Windows Live accounts, and if you do this, you will never be aware you have them.

baldo134
November 11, 2009 5:04 PM

I have used HOTMAIL for many nears and have much info stored there. I have two questions: 1. How do I download the contents of Hotmail to my computer? 2. How do I remove the recently added "Windows Live" portion from my computer? When I added it I was assured that I could remove it if not happy with it. I am not happy. But I am unable to uninstall it. I also used a beta uninstaller for WL, but the beta will not open on my Powerbook G4 Mac. Ron

carlos
November 26, 2009 6:58 PM

I had an old email account on hotmail that I believe has been hacked and I cannot seem to delete the darn thing - Why isn't there a way to just delete it in one shot? why do I have to wait 270 days to close something I don't want? I know it is free and all but i don't want to be associated with this thing any longer - will someone please help me? Thank you.

Please read the article you just commented on. I don't see why you need to do anything at all.
Leo
27-Nov-2009

paul rogers
December 13, 2009 3:23 PM

If Hotmail is a web-based opertion and Windows Live Mail is simply a "program" on your computer, it would seem seem that the Hotmail account is more exposed, more vulnerable, and since both use the same id all of your emails end up in the Hotmail account, whether you like it or not. That would be my reason for wanting to eliminate it.
Why couldn't you close the account, which, as you said, would close all of them, then reopen Windows Live Mail only with a new account id, and eliminate the Hotmail that way if you wish?

Blue Moon
December 28, 2009 11:36 PM

I had two hot mail accounts and two MSN identities. I closed them both. In my case I did that because someone I did not want contacting me was doing it anyway. I could block that person on MSN, but I couldn't block them from sending me e-mails. I can't be bothered to go in and periodically check an unused hot mail account, why should I? As long as this person continued sending me e-mails the account would have been technically "In Use". The 270 day thing makes me laugh. It was easier for me to close and then delete the unwanted accounts. I now have a new @live account, a new MSN identity, and this person is no longer able to contact me. The entire process took maybe 5 minutes, and it was worth it as far as I am concerned. The relief I now feel because this person cannot find me is total and utter joy. Oh and the second hot mail account I had, 2260 spam messages in the last three months, real actual spam, the nigerian stuff, you name it, that account was completely overrun with spam.

arak seepoom
April 12, 2010 4:49 PM

so does this mean microsoft does not really close your account for 270 days? if so, this is just another example of microsoft continuing to jerk users around.

mariana
May 4, 2010 8:31 AM

It is important for me to close and get rid of any MSN related accounts (hotmail, messenger, windows live, etc) beacuse it has obviously been hacked into and many obscene emails have been sent from my account, many scams pop up in my messenger everytime I use it and even my facebook, that was registered under a hotmail account has been tapped into. You don't seem to understand HOW IMPORTANT it is these days to proctec personal information. It is NOT sufficient to just STOP USING the account becasue I signed in after a month of supposedly cancelling it and I find again emails that have been sent out of my account by somebody else than ME! How do you stop that form happening if you cannot close the account!!!????

lucas
July 1, 2010 8:05 PM

Look Leo, I really appreciate your care and attention, but...If the Msn is actually mine I have the right to close it just when I want. I don't want pretend that I haven't it anymore...But it seems to be impossible. So my question is: "Am I the real owner of my account?"

Actually, if we want to play the game of semantics: no you are not. Hotmail is. And it's by their terms of service that they allow you to use it.
Leo
02-Jul-2010

Malide
July 18, 2010 10:21 PM

My ex won't leave me alone, I've change and deleted all my former account, this is the only one that I can't. Even though I've told him not to email me numerous time he still does and he claim that I emailed him first he just replied, but he can't produce any of my email. Now every1 believes that I'm the clingy stalker when in reality it's him

So stop using the account that he's contacting you on. Just stop. Ignore it, log out of it, and never ever sign into it again.
Leo
20-Jul-2010

Carrie
October 9, 2010 7:04 PM

I have a ton of people emailing me telling me they are getting spam from my old Hotmail account. I have tried to close it, but it says my account is linked to a paid service. I don't pay for anything. Maybe I did a long long time ago? Who knows.... I just want it to close! Any suggestions???

I'd send you to this article: What are my Lost Hotmail Account and Password Recovery Options? - in particular I'd have you check the Hotmail support options.
Leo
09-Oct-2010

marcelle
October 11, 2010 3:52 AM

I have tried to stop my account and to no avail and I have had issues with someone hacking this account and contacting my young nieces pretending to be me and asking them to undress etc..this is horrendous and one of my friends has said there is a suicide site that comes up when you google my full name and that the guy on this site has my profile page with all my hotmail details including when I am signed in and I have tried to find out what to do, help me please .

In your position I would contact the police.
Leo
11-Oct-2010

Gilbert
November 14, 2010 8:11 PM

Interestingly enough I tried your method 5 years ago. I walked away from my hotmail and haven't used it in years. However, just recently, my account was hacked and is now sending spam email under my name to my old contacts list. This is the reason people want to delete their accounts. Having old accounts in your name is a recipe for trouble, and there's no earthly reason why the desire to close an account should annoy anyone. We want to save MSN the data space for a service we don't use, and we want to save ourselves the hassle of coming back years later to change passwords for an account we don't use just because someone hacked it when we couldn't figure out how to delete it.

Concerned email user
November 27, 2010 6:56 AM

I get the impression that people really aren't getting the help they've come for. I don't want to 'stop using my account' or 'ignore it', I want it closed. It should not be this hard to close an account. I've attempted canceling my Microsoft account, per the instructions that I got once trying to close my hotmail account. I'm getting taken in circles and I don't want to just 'not check' my hotmail account. It was compromised and people are receiving emails from 'me'. I've changed my password, I've deleted all of my contacts, to no avail. I just want the account closed.

Your account was compomised? You must (MUST) have control of an account in order to close it. This article, already on Ask Leo, discusses recovery options for the various ways that Hotmail accounts can be lost or compromised: What are my Lost Hotmail Account and Password Recovery Options? - Personally I don't believe closing an account helps, since eventually the email address is returned to the available pool and someone can then create a new account with the same email address. All the machinations to close it simply aren't worth the effort. Tell all your contacts to ignore email coming from the old account and move on.
Leo
27-Nov-2010

Andreas
December 9, 2010 10:38 AM

I found this (finally). It closed the account once and for all for me. Cheers //Andreas

1. Go to http://mail.live.com/mail/CloseAccountConfirmation.aspx

2. Log in with your Windows Live ID and password.

3. Click on "Close account."

captureMMstature
January 18, 2011 9:32 AM

Is it really so hard to answer the question instead of questioning the help you are suppose to give us? Then when people have genuine reasons for trying to gather this information you don't answer. And what's with the 9 points under this comment box, you are clearly hiding your inability to put your words into action, or give a logical explanation for your unhelpful attitude to simple question and answers.

I question because closing the account will not achieve what people actually think it will - read the article and you'll see that. And if you check the related links you'll find that I do answer the question directly in How do I close my Windows Live Hotmail account? - if the account has been compromised that simply may not work, and you might well be completely out of luck. At that point you want this article which discusses the recovery options for the various ways that Hotmail accounts can be lost or compromised: What are my Lost Hotmail Account and Password Recovery Options?
Leo
18-Jan-2011

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