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Hotmail is Unreliable


Originally written 20060131

Hotmail deleted all my mail. When I accessed the account, it told me the "new" account was reserved for me. I was slightly upset, and wrote to Hotmail support. My entire conversation with Hotmail is included below. The main points are:
1. Hotmail has no backups. If anything is deleted, it cannot be restored.
2. The free Hotmail requires you to log in every 30 days using a web browser, or Hotmail will delete all of your mail forever. Using the MSN Messenger does not count as activity.
3. Even if you log in every 14 days with a web browser, Hotmail may have a problem with their logging, and all of your email will be deleted forever.
4. The only method for you to backup your mail is to open each one and save the webpage. This applies even if you pay Hotmail for the privilege of them maybe not deleting your memos every 30 days.

Lucky for me, I do not trust Microsoft. I used this account for free registrations on the web. It was mostly spam, and Hotmail's spam filters are useless.

FYI, Gmail allows you to backup your mail easily for free. Once upon a time, Yahoo Mail also allowed easy and free backups, but now it costs $20 per year per account.
Here are is our conversation:

From: Me
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2006 8:37:10 PM UTC
To: support_x
Subject: MSN Hotmail:I need something fixed.:My Mail:Missing Messages

Service:
MSN Hotmail

What type of problem do you have?
I need something fixed.
My Mail
Missing Messages

Full Name: Me
What e-mail address would you like a response sent to? XXX@hotmail.com
Primary e-mail address/member ID associated with the account you are inquiring about: XXX@hotmail.com

To ensure a quick resolution, provide as many details as possible, including the date and time the problem occurred, a description of what
you were trying to do, the detailed steps you took that led up to the problem, and details on any error messages that you received.

My Hotmail account reset a few days ago. When I logged in, it gave a message about it being reserved for me, then opened empty except for the Welcome memo. Please restore the other memos.

It may have been almost 2 weeks since my last login. I checked it around Christmas, and again around New Year's Day. That should not be near any of your limits for lack of use.

Frequency of the issue: First time
How do you access your Hotmail account? Web Interface *www.hotmail.com*
Who is your ISP? Other
Type of Internet connection: Cable Modem
Have you recently installed any new software (if you enter yes please add more comments in the text box above)? No
Which operating system are you using?: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Win98; en-US; rv:1.7.3) Gecko/20040910
Which browser are you using: Netscape5
Location: en-us - English (United States)
Type of Support: E-mail Support


From: "MSN Hotmail Support"
To:
Subject: RE: SRX1234567890ID - MSN Hotmail:I need something fixed.:My
Mail:Missing Messages
Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 05:53:06 -0800

Hello,

Thank you for writing to MSN Hotmail Technical Support.

Before anything else, please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your message. We recently received an extremely high
volume of email messages and we are working diligently to catch up.

My name is Glenn and you mentioned that your account has been reset. I understand how important it is for you to have your issue resolved at once and I am glad to be of assistance.

Our records show that your account, XXX@hotmail.com was marked "Inactive". This is the reason why you lost your stored messages.

Our system automatically marks a Hotmail account "Inactive" if it has not been accessed in the past 30 days. Once it is marked
"Inactive", our system automatically deletes all stored messages and returns incoming e-mail to the sender. If an account stays inactive for 120 days, Hotmail permanently deletes it. Please understand that we have to do this to prevent our system from cluttering up and adversely affecting the delivery of efficient services.

However, here are some recommendations in order to avoid the same problem in the future.

1. Sign in to your account at least once within 30 days.
2. Sign in to your account directly. You need to manually enter your password in the MSN Hotmail Sign-in page in order for our system to detect that you are still actively using your account. If you access your mailbox through MSN Messenger or e-mail client (such as Outlook Express) where you do not manually enter your password, our system will not be able to detect you actively using your account.
3. MSN Hotmail Plus package exempts Hotmail users from the account expiration policy. If you would like more information, please visit the link below:
http://join.msn.com

Thank you for your understanding. If you have other concerns, please feel free to write back and we will be glad to assist you.

Sincerely,
Glenn M.
MSN Hotmail Technical Support

From: Me
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 8:06:12 PM UTC
To: support_x_EN_SY
Subject: RE: SRX1234567890ID - MSN Hotmail:I need something fixed.:My
Mail:Missing Message

As I wrote in the request, I logged in on JAN 1. It still has not been
30
days. The mail reset around JAN 17. Please restore from backups.

Me


From: "MSN Hotmail Support"
To: Me
Subject: RE: SRX1234567890ID - MSN Hotmail:I need something fixed.:My
Mail:Missing Message
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 14:23:11 -0800

Dear Me,

Thank you for writing back to MSN Hotmail Technical Support.

I apologize for not responding to you sooner. Every message that Hotmail receives is very important. Unfortunately, we recently received an extremely high volume of e-mail messages and are working diligently to catch up.

This is Joseph and I am writing in response to your inquiry on your e-mail messages which were deleted due to account inactivity. I understand how important it is to have your concern addressed immediately.

I have checked your XXX@hotmail.com account and I have confirmed that it had been inactive.

If you believe that you did not fail to sign in to your Hotmail account for at least 30 consecutive days (or within the first 10 days after you first created your account), please ask any of your friends or relatives whom you may have sent an e-mail to within the past 30 days to forward to us a complete and unedited copy of an e-mail that they received from your XXX@hotmail.com account. Please ask them to expose the "full message header" of the e-mail so that we can identify if the message originated from your XXX@hotmail.com account.

To forward mail with full headers

Using Hotmail:
1. Click "Options" on the upper-right side of the page.
2. On the left side of the page, click "Mail" and then click "Mail Display Settings." The "Mail Display Settings" page appears.
3. Under "Message Headers," select "Full" and click "OK."
4. Go to the "Inbox" folder, then open the e-mail in question.
5. Copy the entire text of the e-mail including its "full message header," then paste it in your outgoing e-mail.

If the recipient of your e-mail message is not a Hotmail member, please ask them to consult the Help associated with their e-mail program to determine how to view full header information.

I will investigate the incident as soon as I receive this information.

I look forward to hearing from you again.

Sincerely,
Joseph V.
MSN Hotmail Technical Support

From: Me
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 1:35:37 AM UTC
To: support_x_EN_SY
Subject: RE: SRX1234567890ID - MSN Hotmail:I need something fixed.:My Mail:Missing Message

So inactivity is now based on when a user last sent a memo from the Hotmail account. Not including these requests to have the mail restored, I have averaged sending about one memo per year during the 10 years I have had the account. You are saying I should expect my account to reset every month. Please confirm so I can accurately blog about the new policy and Hotmail's inability to restore from backups.

I can understand the high traffic. If you changed your activity logging policy, there would be many people with similar complaints.

Thanks,
Me

Hello,

Thank you for writing back to MSN Hotmail Technical Support.

This is Anna Marie and I have gathered from your correspondence with my colleagues about your concern about your XXX@hotmail.com account.

I understand how important this matter is to you. Please accept my apology if I was not able to respond to you sooner.

I know how much you want to restore the messages and all other information you lost in your account due to its inactivity. I regret to inform you that the deletions are permanent and cannot be retrieved anymore.

Here are some guidelines in order to avoid the same issue in the future.

1. Sign in to your account at least once within 30 days.

2. Sign in to your account directly. You need to manually enter your password in the MSN Hotmail sign-in page in order for our system to detect that you are still actively using your account. If you access your mailbox through MSN Messenger and others where you do not manually enter your password, our system will not be able to detect you actively using your account.

3. Save a copy of your messages you consider important to your computer or on a disk.
a. Open the message you want to save
b. Click the "Print view" button that is in the upper-middle of your Hotmail interface. A new window will appear showing you the print view of your messages.
c. On the "View" menu, select "Source". A notepad will appear containing the encoding of the message.
d. On the "File" menu, select "Save as".
e. When naming the file, put an extension of ".html" (e.g. getmsg1.html).
f. On the "Save in:" drop-down menu, select a directory.
g. Click "Save."

4. Subscribe for Hotmail Plus for your account to be exempted from account expiration. This offer includes:
- 2GB (Gigabytes) of storage
- Ability to send attachments of 20MB
- No graphical advertisements
- Exemption from the 30-day Hotmail inactivity policy
- 30 MB of MSN Groups storage

For more information on this and other MSN subscription plans, visit http://join.msn.com to see what is available in your market and for your local pricing.

Please accept my apology for the inconvenience this might have caused you.

Thank you for you patience and understanding. If you have other concerns and inquiries, please feel free to write back.

Sincerely,
Anna Marie O.
MSN Hotmail Technical Support

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