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Messages deleted on HotMail: can I get them back somehow?


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 …

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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

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.

Do this

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62 comments on “Messages deleted on HotMail: can I get them back somehow?”

  1. 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.


  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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??

    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)


  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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

  14. Leo,
    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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. I just don’t get it. I received ALL my bills on hotmail; sentimental documents; business; personal; and so forth…no 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.

  18. 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?

  19. 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.


  20. 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.

  21. 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 :(

  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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

  25. 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…..

  26. Hi,
    I have “lost” an email of mine….it 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??


  27. 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
  28. 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.

  29. 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.


  30. 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?

  31. 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 :)

  32. 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!

  33. 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 ?

  34. 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 ?

  35. 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.


  36. 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.

  37. 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,

  38. 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

  39. 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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