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Will My Email Be There If I Reactivate a Deleted Account? Don’t Count On It

Deactivation risks and reactivation promises unkept.

A Deleted Email Account

When you delete an account, the provider may not keep its contents in case you want to reactivate the deleted account. I have an alternative suggestion.
Question: I am thinking of shutting down my email address. But was curious if I do so, would Yahoo hold it for a length of time before permanently deleting it? And if I were to request to reinstate it, would emails sent to me still be there or not?

There’s a very simple answer to this one: no.

Even if the answer is yes, the answer is no.

Let me explain.

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Reactivate a deleted account?

Once you delete an account you should make zero assumptions about what will be preserved should you change your mind and want to reactivate it. The best approach is to pretend you’ve deleted it, act as if you’ve deleted it, and see if it matters. The only assumption you can make is that when you delete an account everything is gone immediately.

Make no assumptions

We might think we know how long Yahoo! (or any email provider) will hang on to your account in case you change your mind. It might be 30 days, 90 days, or something else.

It might also be zero days.

The real issue is, the answer could change tomorrow. If the answer becomes zero tomorrow, any decisions we make today are invalid.

And, no, I don’t think the answer will change to zero tomorrow1. But there’s such a simple way of avoiding the problem completely that I think assuming it’s zero is by far the best approach.

Assume the answer to your question is “no”. Assume that the instant you delete your account it’s gone forever.

What might you do differently?

Try pretending

I suggest you pretend you closed your account.

Seriously: stop accessing it, stop using it, stop giving that email address to anyone. Pretend that you closed it simply by acting as if it isn’t there. Maybe sign in every so often to make sure the account doesn’t go away for lack of use. But otherwise, be absolutely religious about not using it.

Does it matter? Do you find yourself returning to the account for some reason? Then you’re not ready to delete it.

On the other hand, if you never notice or care, then all is well. You can delete the account, or you can just stop logging in to it and let the service purge it eventually for lack of use.

Either way, your destiny remains firmly in your own control.

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Footnotes & References

1: Though, depending on the email provider, who really knows?

5 comments on “Will My Email Be There If I Reactivate a Deleted Account? Don’t Count On It”

  1. Are you killing off email altogether or just this account?
    Is the mail that presently exist in it still wanted?
    Does any new email come in that you want or from people you want to get it from?

    If the data is important, does that service have a way to dump the data so that you have an offline backup.
    If people (you want hear from) still use it, you might want to let them know. I did this with an old email address when I switched to gmail. I used gmails ability to collect the mail from it and their spam filter to only keep ones I wanted. I occasionally looked for emails with my old address and checked if I wanted to remind people that it was going away. Gmail will also let you set up an autoresponder that would just send back that message but I wanted to only do it for some of them.

  2. I had a Yahoo account that I stopped using. I kept it alive for years by checking on it once a month. I received an email from a friend I hadn’t heard from in years and re-initiated our friendship online. I closed the account because I didn’t like the email address. Then Yahoo Mail allowed adding an alias (alternate account name) and the option of adding a period in the address. I added the alias and now it’s the account I use for newsletters. I was I suggest never closing and account. You never know if you’ll hear from an old friend or contact and you may have a reason to want it again one day.

  3. How long does Yahoo or Outlook keep an unused account active?

    I had a Yahoo account and its purpose is to receive Spam mail and nothing of important nature.

    For almost 3 yrs I haven’t sign on to this acct. and believe me I didn’t even remember the password.

    Recently I wanted to check whether my stimulus check got mailed to me and the IRS told me from a phone call, that the info is explained in detail in the email they sent me when I originally established with them 3 yrs ago – which happens to be my Yahoo account.

    I clicked on the Forget Password link on my Yahoo sign on page and even the Username is invalid.

    How can I get this account reactivated again?

    It is not a life and death situation because I know the stimulus check will eventually reach my hands.

    in future what is the best way not to get into this mess? Tell the senders NOT to use this account? However they act like a kid and keep sending mails to this account.

    Thanks Leo & the staff

    • If Yahoo says the username is invalid, it means the account is closed and unrecoverable. You can try to open a new account with the old name to get any future email sent to that address but all old mail would be lost. It may or may not be possible to open an account with that address depending on how long it takes before Yahoo frees addresses of closed accounts to be used for opening new accounts. Otherwise, as you said, you can notify all of your contacts who have that address of your new address.
      I was able to find the status of my stimulus check by going to the IRS website


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