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
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.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
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
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
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.