What happened in the recent Hotmail outage

What happened in the recent Hotmail outage

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On December 31, 2010, a number of our users reported their email messages and folders were missing from their Hotmail accounts.  I want to take a little time to explain what happened, and what steps we’ve taken to fix this problem and prevent it from happening in the future.

In Hotmail, one way we monitor the health of the email service is through automated tests. We set up a number of accounts with different configurations, and then use automated tests to log into these accounts, simulate normal user activity and behavior, and report when errors are found. We use scripts to create and delete these test accounts in bulk. The way we delete a test account is to remove its record from a group of directory servers that route users and incoming mail to the correct mailbox. 

On December 30th, we had an error in a script that inadvertently removed the directory records of a small number of real user accounts along with a set of test accounts. Please note that the email messages and folders of impacted users were not deleted; only their inbox location in the directory servers was removed.  Therefore when they logged in, a new mailbox was automatically created for them on a new storage server that didn’t contain their old messages and folders.   This is why the accounts received the “Welcome to Hotmail” message. 

The issue was first reported on December 30th, and initially our support teams were unable to trace the source of the problem.  A “ticket,“ (notification that an issue needs investigation), was entered into our issue alert system on December 31st.  This issue was one that had not arisen before, and at first, we did not assign it to the correct team for action.  Additionally, because there were a relatively small number of reports, the volume wasn’t high enough to set off alarms. This meant we had a ticket in the system that was getting no action. 

We raised the priority of the ticket on January 1st after continued reports, and by that evening, we’d identified the root cause of the problem.  Our first step was to restore these users’ entries in the directory servers, which we did by early on the morning of January 2 PST.  We then merged their old email messages and folders with any new mail they’d received throughout the day on January 2nd. This required multiple passes to capture all the accounts and messages, so for some users, service wasn’t completely restored until January 5th. We completed the merge for 16,035 users on January 2nd and by January 5th had completed this for the remaining 1,320 users who were affected by this particular issue.

100% data recovery

I am happy to report that no user data was permanently lost in this particular incident, that is, we had 100% recovery of existing email and folders in the affected accounts. The only unfortunate exception to this statement is that, if you were affected by this incident and you didn’t sign in to your account between the time of the incident and the time your account was restored, then any messages sent to your account during that time would have bounced.

What we’ve learned

To prevent similar problems in the future, we’ve taken the following actions:

  • We are updating our infrastructure to use a separate code path for provisioning and removing test accounts, so that our testing no longer risks affecting real user accounts. 
  • We are changing our issue alert process so that when multiple users report missing data, these issues get a higher priority and immediate action.
  • We are updating our feedback process so that we can more clearly communicate status to affected customers through the support forums.

Other reports

We’ve also received reports of unrelated data loss issues, including people who set up a POP client (an email program on their computer or mobile phone) that, unbeknownst to them, was automatically deleting their messages from the server. Others found, after investigation, that their accounts had been closed as a result of not having signed in for 270 days.

If you think you’re missing email from your account, first check this Solution Center article on the most common reasons for missing email in Hotmail. If you don’t find a solution, be sure to report it in the Hotmail Solution Center Forums, as the more reports we get, the more quickly we can figure out and address your problem.

We apologize to the Hotmail users who were affected by this issue. Our commitment to protecting your data is a top priority for the entire Windows Live team. We will continue to investigate new incident reports as they come in, and we’ll share new information about these on this blog.

Mike Schackwitz

Windows Live Hotmail team

P.S. Here are a few related links you might find helpful if you’re having trouble with your Hotmail account:

75 Comments
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  • DiY
    1 Posts

    Please, restore emails of IT Community.

    Issue's details windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

    Thank you,

    Dmitry

    Microsoft MVP, IT community Lead

  • Good day Mike from the Uk. I joined otofind out a lot more info from being hacked a couple of days ago and i am waiting for  my temporary password from the Team team at Hotmail. I would to be honest have liked to have written with my details so that i could get in teh post a tempory access password to get my account back. I do hope that it was noticed that some one was hacking into my account by the amount of wrong passwords being tried by the hacker and that the account should have been blocked for 24 hours it would have detered the hacker and then we could have got in there quickly and changed the password.

    I am this morning going ot see if my password has srrived in a secure account and also t ohelp i have set up a brand new account and a brand new password that is difficult to attack.

    I do hope the rotton sod of a hacker leaves my folders alone. The rat said i was in sunny Spain and my father heard from my sister and even my Vicor phones me asking is i was alright.  I wish these people were hacked right back by Hotmail and our accounts returned back to us with an email saying that we had been kacked and to change our password right away.

    Wish me luck in getting my account back as it contains a lot of my 8 years worth of Family History to Virginia in 1663 onwards.

    Regards A

  • I have not been able to get onto my email quikquestionnaire@live.com for over 2 days now, I need it to carry out my university research project work and my posts on the support forum are going completely ignored. There appears to be no other way of getting in touch or trying to find out why I can't get into my account.  I just want this email to work! SO frustrating.

  • kay321
    6 Posts

    my email inbox is now randomly deleting emails and emails are continually being deleted.

  • I thought I'd posted a comment, but it is not listed at the bottom!

    I'm another of the people that lost all my emails along with the new year, which pretty much fits Mike's explanation. I found the Forums pretty useless. The "professionals" led me on wild goose chases with various explanations, none of which panned out. How you all didn't realize this was systemic is more than I can fathom! And i still don't have my emails before 1/1/11 back.

    i also have been having problems with your continual "maintenance", since before the emails disappeared, which so far has not shut me off altogether, but causes LONG time breaks in performing ANY tasks: going from inbox to a folder, sending ordeleting or moving an email, etc. Hearing that "maintenance" probably CAUSED the loss, makes sense to me. I'm about finished with you folks!

    Thanks to the other forum USERS, who respond sensibly and accurately to my & others letters! Otherwise I'd never have gotten here!

  • My old emails disappeared with the new year, which coincides with your explanation. They have NOT been recovered, though I have gone through your forums, getting various "answers", none of which panned out. YOUR explanation makes the most sense, but your staff has led me a wild goose chase in their explanations. I either had, or didn't have a POP 3 server (I don't think I do, but since I'm not entirely clear on how it would work, I'm not 100% sure). Various instructions were impossible to follow: Finding the option to prevent deletion of mail - there is no such option, I could find. The most helpful responses, were from other people caught in this fiasco. But still no old emails!

    I also have been having other problems, which may or may not be related, from before the emails disappeared. Various messages when I tried to move from 1 thing to another: from email to send, or delete, or move to, etc.  The message seemed to indicate "work is being done on the site". I often pressed "notify microsoft", but the problem continues.

  • Using quikquestionnaire@live.com to complete my university research project and can't access it, haven't been able to for over 24hrs now. Tried various ways of getting in touch, comment on help forums has been ignored alongside others.. total disaster just trying to get it sorted.

  • I have already sent an email to Windows Live, and have yet to receive a response. All of my emails prior to 12/15/10 are missing. In the past, I have been a paying customer of these services, and when Windows expanded my email storage (although compromising my privacy at the same time), I continued to use the service. Please restore the emails that were in my account, or at least respond to my inquiry so I know someone is working on this request. Contrary to this post, this problem has NOT been resolved, at least not for my email account.

  • @megazozo - The server issue has been resolved.  Please login to your account.  Thank you for your patience.

    @exw01 - Please see the email that I sent privately.  Thanks.

  • i am begging you!! - please unblock my account, it says there has been a maintenance problem, already for 6 hours. tomorrow at 9am i have 2 interviews and both addresses i have in the inbox. if i dont check the addresses i may lose the only chance to finally get a job! this CANNOT happen to me! pls help karolina.klebanska@hotmail.co.uk

  • i am begging you!! - please unblock my account, it says there has been a maintenance problem, already for 8 hours. tomorrow at 9am i have 2 interviews and both addresses i have in the inbox. if i dont check the addresses i may lose the only chance to finally get a job! this CANNOT happen to me! pls help karolina.klebanska@hotmail.co.uk

  • exw01
    1 Posts

    Mike,

    I have been trying to work with the Windows Live Help website, and am getting no help whatsoever. The morning of Friday, January 21, 2011 I discovered that all emails dated prior to November 2010 were deleted from my inbox. This resulted in 2000+ emails being lost from my account. The majority of these emails were very important, and I need them back. Non of the issues this blog and Windows Live have listed seem to explain what has happened to me. I do access my emails from my iPhone via Pop3, however I have double checked my settings and they have always been and still are set to "Never delete messages from the server". I have also spoken to my cell phone provider and they have confirmed that this is not a POP3 issue if that is what my settings were configured to. I'm outraged that this has been an issue for some many people, and nothing seems to be getting done about it. I am disappointed in Hotmail for not being able to recover my lost emails when this seems to be Hotmail's problem. I have an active account and have had this account since 1999. I would very much like some real help with this issue if at all possible.

    Thanks.

  • kay321
    6 Posts

    Dear Mike,  I have had no luck with Karla or any of the customer service team.  The main consensus from microsoft seems to be to blame my network provider and iphone.  I don't buy that but I have spoken to my network provider and given that microsoft own the server where my emails used to be (before they were deleted without my permission) I am inclined to believe them.  Furthermore, I have never downloads my old emails on my phone so it really does not make sense.  Given, the response I got I decided to cancel my emails going to my phone and my emails are still being deleted.  

    Can you please explain to me what is going on??

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Mike,

    Have you browsed the Windows Live Solution Center today.

    Apparently new software was implemented. The changes appear to be cosmetic, and currently the site's response time is terrible. The new software is buggy ... I keep receiving this message each time I submit a post:

    "We were not able to find the resource you were looking for.

    The specific page you  are trying to access is not available. If you have any support questions related to Hotmail, look for relevant solutions available at windowslivehelp.com/solutions.aspx

    In addition, there still is no specific forum for posting feedback about the Windows Live Solution Center, so there is no official way to let someone know about the site's current problems .... hence this post here.

    If you want your customers to stop posting their complaints here, and instead use the Windows Live Solution Center, then someone really needs to take responsibility for fixing the problems at the Windows Live Solution Center (the changes made today are a step backwards)..

  • Windows Live Hotmail Team - PLEASE HELP!

    I am a highly technical user (Director of IT) that has been impacted by an event occurring in late December 2010.  I am writing on this blog as I've received no help via Windows Live Help.

    All of my email before December 16, 2010 has been removed from my inbox.  I did not delete my email and nobody else has access to my account.

    I had electronic receipts required by law for taxes as well as professional and personal email that I thought was safely in the care of Hotmail.  I have been a user of Hotmail for over 13 years.

    I need my email back.  I've tried every other means of reaching the appropriate support staff within Windows Live and I am hitting walls at every turn.  I am concerned that as every day goes by my email may be irretrievable and that cannot happen.

    Please restore my faith in Hotmail and your support teams - Please HELP!!!

    Gary Thandi

    {address removed}

  • Dear Hotmail Support Staff,

    I understand that something bad obviously happened to Hotmail a few weeks ago and that it is clearly an ongoing problem.  I say this because so far none of the responses to the posts on the Help Centre board by Hotmail staff have provided any way to solve this problem which appears to be affecting hundreds or thousands of its users.  

    My apologies if this seems rude, because I sincerely don't mean it to be rude, but why doesn't Hotmail just come out and admit that they don't have any way to recover the lost e-mails?  After 2 weeks of ducking questions with lame reponses about not being able to retrieve e-mails after a few days, using POP3 servers (which I and I suspect many others do not use), and for users to be sure to login at least once every 270 days and keep their passwords private, why not just be honest?  Quit passing the buck.  The error is at your end not ours.

    It's next to impossible that these hundreds or thousands of users all accidentally deleted years worth of e-mails at the same time.  Why not just explain to us what happened?  Be open about it.  People are more forgiving than you think.  It's not like we pay for the service that you provide.  And it is important for us as users to know if this problem could occur again.  

    If I don't hear anything back soon as to what happened or whether these (millions of?) e-mails are actually retrievable then I'll be switching my main e-mail account to another service.

    Thank you

  • Please help. This is my third attempt to request an assistance with missing emails. As many many more other hotmail users my messages disappeared from my active account and lost in the delteded mail folder.

  • We're doing some maintenance to improve the service. We apologize for getting in your way. Please try again in a few minutes. If it's been more than an hour, tell us you're still waiting

    I joined this blog using my gmail address as hotmail has become unusable. It's been 2 weeks and I get the above or other messages multiple times daily. For periods of hours, I can't get into mail, or it errors out every time I try to do something.

    I have had my msn.com address (same username as the gmail address I signed up with) for many years. Even though I have six email accounts, the hotmail one has been my go-to email account. The bulk of my private mail comes here. No I have to start sending everyone to my gmail account as this situation has gotten out of control.

    The forums on the help link are useless. No matter how many of the same complaints get logged, the moderators act as if each is unique and they are unaware of the widespread problems. Usually accompanied with instructions for optimizing your browser.

    There is also a service status link under Help which always states the service is running normally and the history shows no problems. Another useless and frustrating avenue for support.

    I don't know how Microsoft allowed this product to reach this point of uselessness, but I have had enough. I quit using yahoo email many years ago when it reached a similar state and now I have to do the same with hotmail.

  • kay321
    6 Posts

    @ skabooblester.  I am with Vodafone and tbh there is no way they would have deleted my emails from the server as it's set as NEVER delete.  Even when I have deleted emails on hotmail on my phone they are still in my inbox.  Furthermore, most of the emails botmail have deleted from my inbox I never looked on my phone!  

    @ Karla, When will you respond to my email?  I really want to find out what happened and if my situation really is unique.  As I have told you, my network provider are adamant they did not delete anything on pop3.  Furthermore, given that I have other emails with them and nothing has happened I am inclined to believe them.  It feels like you are just trying to fob me off to someone else without really investigating the issue.  Clearly, my inbox was deleted your end.

  • ¡Firedog
    16 Posts

    @Karla

    "I understand there are challenges on the forums.  Please be assured that we're driving to deliver support and services more effectively and efficiently."

    Does that involve hiring staff that know what they're talking about and have some experience of the programs they're supposed to be supporting? Or perhaps publishing some Help files that actually help? See this thread for an amusing example:

    windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

  • Im sorry to be posting my issue on here but im desperate. I have been on the other forum and they haven't replied in 5 days! I loast all my emails when i logged on on Friday night to hotmail.co.uk All my inbox was gone... 200+ messges from over 4 years! There are so many important things on it! I have not deleted them, they arnt in my trash and i havent touched them! Please Please look into my account, any details at all Please! There are memories and pictures which are my only copy. Please. lawson_chris@hotmail.co.uk

  • The situations where users see extended outages are definitely issues the Hotmail team is paying attention to. We will continue to invest both strategic and tactical solutions that will make service quality higher and reduce turn-around time when users do need support.

    The current incidences of “maintenance” that users are reporting are unrelated to the recent outage, but have been traced back to a bug that was introduced by a code change in December. The fix started being released to our servers last night, and should be fully deployed today.

    As we make improvements to our system, we will post updates to this blog.

  • twa1
    1 Posts

    I am also missing all of my emails. Please help, thank you.

  • buss
    2 Posts

    My emails are still missing! It is unacceptable to suggest the problem has been fixed, when it hasnt!

  • As a follow up to server maintenance issues reported yesterday:

    @maat15, @Pguzi, @Bounty58, @Samzietsch, @emmybear, @amshoemaker,& Cindraly, you should have access to your accounts.  Please let me know if you are still having trouble.

    @esculapio69 - I sent you a separate email to check if you still need assistance.

    @DLH - I'm happy to hear that your issue was resolved as well.

    I want to encourage folks to continue to post any technical support issues at http://windowslivehelp.com.  We are working on improvements in response time and customer experience this year.  By using the support center, you help us understand the volumes of issues and types of issues that impact your experience with Windows Live products and services.  I understand there are challenges on the forums.  Please be assured that we're driving to deliver support and services more effectively and efficiently.

  • My email account has been down for over 24 hours due to maintenance issues.  I have been to the Hotmail forums and it seems that I am not alone with this dilemma.  The forum responses have all typically been the same for everyone and the answers provided don't work.  I am hoping that you will help with this very serious issue...a lot of people, like myself, work from home and rely heavily on our email communications.  Time is money, and the clock is ticking.  Please help!!!

  • My husband's hotmail account hasn't worked since this morning. He's tried 3 different computers plus his phone. My account is working fine. We tried calling customer support and got the runaround. He is extremely frustrated! He has several work-related emails that need immediate attention. His username is mfisherbsu

  • @kay321 who is your mobile provider if you dont mind me asking?  mine is tmobile, and my issues started right about the time i tried to respond to an email...my phone kept saying it couldn't send...however it was the whole time according to my fiance who yelled at me for sending the same msg over and over again...not sure that was what caused it...but convenient that was when i noticed it..

  • HOTMAIL - Ive had no access for 2 days now!! 48hrs!! I will be looking into whether microsoft is liable for any loss of income or anything, I was in the middle of closing a property sale and now?? Well I have no clue!! Instead of posting the same messages on peoples problems (resolution centre) why dont you the hell admit that you have f'd up and fix the issue.

    Its not my browser or connection or anything Ive done all those checks, nothing changes. My work colleague can access his account on my computer, but I cannot not??!!

    HELP NOW PLEASE!!

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @karla:

    Again, thank you for responding to individual customers and helping to address their specific problems on specific servers.

    However, if you browse the feedback given on the Windows Live Solution Center, you will see that the problem of extended maintenance outages (measured in days) is not restricted to a few servers. This problem has been occurring for years and continues to affect many many servers (and thus many many customers).

    Is anyone looking at the root cause of this ongoing problem that results in extended maintenance outages (measured in days)? Is no one at Microsoft interested in addressing this problem from a strategic perspective. Are you content with allowing this problem to continue to occur ad infinitum with daily posts from customers who complain that they have not been able to access their account for days due to "maintenance". Telling customers that "the servers that support your accounts are not experiencing any outages" or "Our Hotmail Operations team is currently working on an issue with the server that supports your account" will not address the root cause of this problem.

  • @maat15 - Our Hotmail Operations team is currently working on an issue with the server that supports your account.  I'll follow up when the issue is resolved.  Thank you for your patience.

  • @rebeccalynne, @lei9000, and @jtidaho -- Please let us know if you continue to experience maintenance messages.  Currently, the servers that support your accounts are not experiencing any outages.  Thank you for letting us know about ongoing issues.

  • @pgecko  I'm checking with our Support forum to determine the status of your request.  Have you also opened a ticket with tampabay.rr.com?  I am advised that rr.com mail is not hosted on Hotmail.  It may be that the email is still on your pc.  If you're using the Windows Live Mail client, we can try to trouble shoot any client issues.  Please contact me via private conversation to continue the discussion.  Thank you.

  • We're doing some maintenance to improve the service. We apologize for getting in your way. Please try again in a few minutes. If it's been more than an hour, tell us you're still waiting

    It has been 24 hours and I still can't access my hotmail account. I use this account for work and there are important emails and flight notifications I NEED TO ACCESS.

    When will it be sorted

    Sam zietsch

  • Did your improvements backfire? Seems a whole lot of people don't even have access to their accounts let alone be able to tell if any emails have been deleted. Some are reporting not having access for up to three days, personally I have been 'locked out' for a day, being told that  "We're doing some maintenance to improve the service. We apologize for getting in your way. Please try again in a few minutes. If it's been more than an hour, tell us you're still waiting."

    Have a look here, pages and pages of posts: windowslivehelp.com/forums.aspx

    And more specifically here (which is marked as resolved and clearly isn't): windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

    How about just answering some questions? Say what's going on and what we can expect.

  • Pguzi
    1 Posts

    Please help...I have not had access to Hotmail in over 24 hours.  I have not had any response to my posts in the Solution Center Forums...except from users who have similar problems.  The msg I get is "We're doing some maintenance to improve the service. We apologize for getting in your way".  I've received this message for over 24 hours.  What can we do to fix this?  I am beyond frustrated.

    If I am on a server that is being maintenance, can my account be moved to a working server?  I have urgent need to access this account...my primary account for business and personal use.  

    Again, I need help.  Please respond or direct me to someone who can assist me resolve this problem.

    Thank you,

    {email removed}

  • maat15
    1 Posts

    Ok, ive been without hotmail now for 36 hours. Not only can I not check the inbox, but on msn it is showing I now have Inbox(0), yet as of yesterday, I had over 2000 unread emails, so whats happening here?

    Ive posted 2-3 times on the "support" forum, but it seems theres no one there because after 5 hours im yet to get a response?

  • DLH
    1 Posts

    On Jan. 4 my  MSN e-mail was hacked and the old "I was mugged in London" e-mail was sent to everyone in my contact list.  Since then I have been locked out of my account, even my secret question answer was changed.   I filled out the questionaire that was requested in the password recovery site and a private forum was created for me.  But it was reported back to me that they were unable to verify I was the owner of the account.  That was after waiting nearly a week to hear back from anyone.   The message I got touted how important security is to MSN....so then how was this clown able to get my account?????

    Today I submitted even more information from my account....folder names, contact names, subject lines.  I hope I hear back soon on this.    I work with a volunteer dog rescue and this has seriously affected my work with them.   My husband and I have been satisfied MSN users for 10 years,  but if I do not get my account back we will be dropping MSN will convince everyone we know to do the same.

    The e-mail I used to register here is obviously not my MSN account, since I cannot access it.   My MSN account is {email removed}, but don't try to use it because I won't see it!!

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @lei9000 and MondayBlues,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    My motivation here is the same as yours ... to point out to Hotmail's management that (based on the frequency of specific complaints in the Windows Live Solution Center) there are several strategic problems that are frequent, ongoing, and desperately need to be solved. These strategic problems are not, and cannot, be solved by the Windows Live Solution Center's moderators. The solution to these strategic problems will take direct involvement from Hotmail's management.

    Unfortunately, there has been no substantial response from Hotmail's management as to how (or if) these strategic problems will be solved. The only responses we have seen are tactical .... individual occurrences of these problems are addressed, while the root cause remains unsolved and the strategic problems continue to occur.

    @Hotmail Team:

    Among your 2011 objectives, do you have specific and measurable goals for solving the root cause of the strategic problems identified by your customers (both here in this thread, and on the Windows Live Solution Center) including significantly reducing the frequency and duration of the customer impact from these strategic problems? If so, can you please share those goals with your customers?

  • pgecko
    2 Posts

    What's going on now at the Solution Center?  Can't even access my comments.  No one has written back to address the problem with our lost email folders and messages.  This has become an exercise in futility, and no one appears to be taking responsibility for helping customers.  WHAT ARE USERS TO DO???? THIS IS AN ABSURED MESS!!! All our email folders and messages since June 2010 have disappeared!!!  I have posted previous notes to no avail.  Isn't there anyone at MS who can address this problem????  

    Disgusted!!!!

  • kay321
    6 Posts

    @ animeshis.  I totally understand your pain!  They have also refused to restore my inbox and even tried to blame my mobile network provider.  I am taking this up with the ombudsman as according to them hotmail advised them they will be restoring our data... doesn't sound like it does it?

  • lei9000 said, "@ Langware...your posts here and on help forum have been very helpful.  You seem to care more than the people responsible for Hotmail."

    I agree !  Everyone who votes that langware take over Hotmail support, say 'Aye' !  :-)

  • lei9000
    2 Posts

    The reason I joined this blog is because my hotmail account has been down for over 24 hours.  Like many others I get the server down for maintenance line.  I work in IT maintenance and understand the need to bring servers down.  An outage for the time period that my account has been down is unacceptable.  Heads would roll if we provided this kind of service.  Since its free I'm at your mercy.  I always preach to our customers about Single Point of Failure.  I didn't follow my own advice...I have had this account for over ten years.  Like all things one failure changes your perspective.  Whenever my account comes back up, I will be moving to your competitors for my main e-mail account.  Thanks for the years of decent service I appreciate it but I can't afford extended outages like the one I'm currently experiencing.

  • lei9000
    2 Posts

    @ Mike are you going to respond to langware?

    @ Langware...your posts here and on help forum have been very helpful.  You seem to care more than the people responsible for Hotmail.  Thanks

  • pgecko
    2 Posts

    We moved our PC to a new modem on Sunday,  just two days ago.  Our Brighthouse Roadrunner service rep. said she needed access to our PC to set up a new profile to associate with our new modem. We did NOT, I repeat, NOT change our email addresses.  We kept the same ones we were using before all our email messages and folders disappeared.  They are {address removed} and {address removed}. After the rep.completed her setup, all our email messages and personal folders we had created had disappeared. Nothing appears there anywhere since June 2010.  How could this happen??? How could our email just be arbitrarily deleted without our knowledge and consent??? This is unconscionable and unacceptable!!!!  PLEASE HELP!!!  THIS IS URGENT!! WE HAVE LOST VITAL, CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION FOR OUR WORK AND RECORDS AND ABSOLUTELY MUST RECOVER ALL OF IT ASAP!!   It must be somewhere on the RR server, and the person who handled our setup should be responsible to locate our information and restore it to our Live Mail...Any help ASAP would be much appreciated. Pgecko

  • I been reposting this question everywhere but I'm not getting a response I have two hotmail accounts and only one seems to be working. The other one keeps getting the maintenance message and it's been two days. How can I fix this? The email that is having the problem is {address removed}.

    Thanks

  • Hi Karla,

    Seeing your mail earlier gave me hope. But as I feared, my emails were not restored. I checked my private support request on Windows live help, and they have written a one liner that my problem cannot be resolved by them.

    I also sent you an email earlier, but no response.

    I hope you can do something to help me out. There must be some way at least to restore my mails.

    I am willing to pay a fee, if that is required.

    Please help me Karla, you can't imagine how important and sentimental all those mails were. Thousands of them.

    In my angst I also wrote the following message to the windows live support guy who wrote me a one liner saying he could not resolve my problem ( but the status of my request says "resolved", huh!)

    "

    WOW !!! Excellent !! You guys just write a one liner and you think its all right???? Huh!!

    How can you shrug off all responsibility? Its not me who deleted all my old messages. Neither was my account compromised.

    Still all my mails were gone. Its your fault. And all you support staff can do is write a one line saying you cannot restore them.

    Its pathetic on your part.

    How is it possible that you dont have a backup of your server??

    Even if so, why should I have to suffer due to your fault?!?!

    I am completely dismayed and disappointed in you guys.

    Shameful !!

    "

    I am not this kind of a person, but all those mails I lost have made me lose control. Once again, Karla, please help me out.

    My ID: animeshis@msn.com

    Thanks * Regards,

    Animesh Chauhan

  • jtidaho
    1 Posts

    We can not get any help to the "standard" hotmail blog, so I am trying you. This "maintenance" message we keep getting for days in a row is not reasonable. We are left without any perspective on when our email service will be re-established. CAN YOU PLEASE HELP ??? My email stopped working yesterday early morning, came back today for about 5 minutes and has been broken since then. My email address is {email address removed for safety}.

  • I also lost almost all my mails in the inbox (only 5 or 6 were kept). It happened today in the morning. I signed in and later, every mail except those 5 or 6 I mentioned disappeared! Spam, deleted an Drafts are still kept, though.

    Could you please fix this? It is very important for me to retrieve some mails.

    I wait for your reply.

    Thank you for your help.

    Regards.

  • JKB
    2 Posts

    Just noted one thing...my Hotmail account works fine on Internet Explorer, but it doesn't on Google Chrome. May be this might be the case with others.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    I'm sorry to repeat myself, but no one is addressing the overall strategic problem, that regularly results in extended maintenance outages (often measured in days). This problem has been going on for several years.

    Thank you for addressing  individual customer's problems here, but unless someone solves the root cause of the regularly reported extended maintenance outages, the problem will continue to occur ..... other servers/clusters will experience extended maintenance outages, and additional customers will be impacted.

    Maintenance outages measured in days should be a rare occurrence ... instead extended outages are occurring far too frequently (as indicated by the frequency of customer's posts in the Windows Solution Center). Please tell us how you plan to address this strategic issue in 2011.

  • @WKG - We have identified a possible root cause of your lost email issue and restored the data.  Please see the email that I sent to you offline and let me know if you need additional assistance.  Thanks!

  • @sugarbear746, @kay321, @animeshis, @dogwuver, @miloz11, and @bllr, I sent you emails as follow up to your data loss/sign-in issues.  If you still need assistance, please contact me via email or through private conversation on the blog.  Since we need to acquire contact email information to resolve support issues, we need to communicate offline.  Thank you.

  • vlc
    1 Posts

    What is going on with your mail servers?  Mine is 132bay but there are hundreds (thousands?) of posts on the hotmail forums with the same 'server maintenance' inaccessibiltiy message just in the last few days.  I am lucky in the sense that my issues didn't begin until last Thursday, but since then, it has been an absolute nightmare.  I have had the @msn.com email adress for 14 years or more and never encountered the issues and lack of adequate answers as I have now.  Most responses I see for others (including mine from Thursday) are "I checked your account and its working now" - give me a break.  I'm still down since 5am this morning with a few minor bursts of email delivery.  At about 6:00pm est my outlook mailbox was suddenly filled with the new mails with sent times of over 8 hours ago.  But, since that brief - what seemed like a 'batch push' - the server is down again.  Has microsoft just decided that managing email servers are just NOT part of the business model any more?   132bay ... is WHERE I WANT TO GO TODAY (or more precisely, where I want to BE pretty much 24/7!)  On one of the forum posts it was suggested I post here to ensure you are aware of the issues on the forum - so I have.  Thanks for reading.

  • bllr
    4 Posts

    Sorry Mike, but here's yet another whose lost emails/contacts haven't yet been restored. Moreover, I've posted twice on the Hotmail forum and made a post to the WindowsLive helpline and haven't heard anything from anyone. Several years worth, up to Dec 27th. All gone. {email removed}. Are you able to get anyone to investigate for me?

  • JKB
    2 Posts

    The situation is definitely not fixed. I can log in to my account but cannot open any of the emails (recent or old).

  • HELP! I can't log into my e-mail account and I keep recieving the following message "We're doing some maintenance to improve the service. We apologize for getting in your way".  I've recieved this message for over 24 hours.  What can we do to fix this?

  • WKG
    1 Posts

    My emails came back but they didn't stay!!

    They went into my inbox where they stayed for a couple of days and then deleted themselves! Now every email that goes into my inbox deletes automatically after i have read it. I have tried moving them back but they delete again! After 2 or 3 days they disappear altogether from the deleted file so it is completely useless.

    I have set up a gmail account and forward to that, so that i don't lose everything.

    I have posted numerous times on the Windows Live Support Forum but have had no reply and nothing done.

    IT IS CERTAINLY NOT FIXED.

  • miloz11
    1 Posts

    Please help!  I have lost years of emails, many of which have things and information I need for myself and my business.  This is quite serious for me. I also have been trying to use the help desk, and keep receiving a yellow message which makes no sense.  It says there is a problem detected which may effect my ability to use certain products.  Since i still have and can use my email, this seems wrong.

  • Just a quick,. slightly off-topic comment & question:  I've read many individuals here and at the Windows Solutions forum saying (in conjunction with this latest Hotmail incident) that many old emails **in their inboxes** have/had been lost.  

    I'm no expert on this, but isn't there supposed to be some sort of long-standing conventional email wisdom about NOT storing email in one's inbox ?  I recall back when I was using OE that that was the case.  "Create your own folder," an OE newsgroup contributor would say, "and move emails out of the inbox so you don't lose them."

    Now, I realize that many, many users also experienced the (temporary ?) loss of all of the mail from ALL folders in this 'event,' so this 'tip' wouldn't have done much.  But still I'm wondering if Hotmail tech support has any advice as a general guideline: Is it, in fact, still theoretically safer to keep one's email in a created, personal folder rather than in the inbox ?

    I guess this incident will (hopefully) provoke many Hotmail users, esp. those with many old, important, sentimental emails, to get in the habit of either a) backing them up at another provider (like having Gmail routinely POP one's Hotmail account or having Hotmail auto-forward to Gmail), or b) downloading them to an offline client like Windows Live Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird, etc., even if one prefers using the web client for daily email sessions.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Mike:

    A few hours of downtime (once per months) due to maintenance is reasonable. However, I'm sure you would agree that not being able to access ones account for days due to "maintenance" is excessive. Yet, if you browse posts in the Windows Live Solution Center, you will see that this is a very common problem ... customers frequently cannot access their account for days due to "maintenance".

    Since extended maintenance outages (measured in days) are such a commonly reported problem on the Windows Live Solution Center, what strategic actions are being taken significantly reduce the frequency and duration of extended outages?

  • I have been unable to read my mail for 2 days now. This is the message I get "We're doing some maintenance to improve the service. We apologize for getting in your way. Please try again in a few minutes. If it's been more than an hour, tell us you're still waiting." There is no place to go to "tell" them. What is going on and when will it be fixed? Improvements? What improvements? Not being able to read your e-mail is not an improvement.

  • Hi ! I hope you can help me. When I logged in the morning today all my mails were there. But soon after in afternoon, all my old/read mails were gone from the inbox.

    Please help me and restore the emails. I am sure you have a backup or something. I reported it to the hotmail solutions team too, but since most users there are unhappy with the support I am worried. Please help.

    My Inbox had a lot of important documents and sentimental mails. I am so sad and cant believe this is happening with hotmail. I trusted hotmail so much and felt it was safe, but you deleted/lost all my mails.

    Please help me.

    My ID is {removed email address]

    Thanks in Advance

  • kay321
    6 Posts

    @Antonia Blume - It is for the account I have register, do you want me to send it again?  Let me know your email address as I don't want to on here.  Honestly, this is really upsetting me and I can't believe hotmail are doing this to me.  How can you delete all my emails from the beginning? I have some really important documents in the emails, and also like many people some sentimental ones from loved ones that are no longer here.  I have so many security information contained in the emails you have lost!   Call me naive, but i never really thought you would trest our data with such little respect - I trusted you.  I really want an explanation and understand how you can lose all of my data?  Hotmail was one of the first email addresses I ever had and I always felt safe using it but this has really cast doubt in my mind what you are doing with our data and it's left me devastated as how you can just delete so many years of my life.  The responses I have got from your team so far have been so unhelpful and no one seems to really want to help me.  I think this is getting serious and I hope you will help me, but I will also try to seek attention and answers elsewhere.

  • I'm happy that ya'll are so happy but the thing is, I haven't been able to access my Hotmai in almost a week now, and no matter where I go for help, I am very disappointedl. No one gets back to me and no one fixes my hotmail account. And I'm reading this over and over and over again on blogs here and everywhere else. Ya'll just zapped zillions of our accounts!  I've had that email address for over 10 years!  And NEVER had a bit of trouble with it.  I keep good virus protection on my pc so I don't get viruses. However, this time my account was HACKED (I know because my friends said I was sending them ads for Viagra and penile implants . . . . I'm a heterosexual woman who has no need for anyh of those things . . .) shheesh!  Anyhow, after that, one day it said they were 'performing maintenance' and should be fixed within 4 hours. That was 5 or 6 or more days ago. I getting PISSED!  I was expecting urgently important mail and I NEED TO ACCESS my account. If anyone is out there, anyone who gives a rats' patoot - PLEASE HELP ME!!

    I agree with another poster who said:

    "However, given the large number of customer complaints, could your heuristics be flawed and could you have managed to lock out many legitimate customers along with the hijackers. Again, how about a response from Chris or John to this question:

    Is there any correlation between the large number of customers currently complaining (on the Windows Live Solution Center) about not being able to access their Hotmail account and the new process that Microsoft implemented to lock out hijackers from compromised accounts?"

    Thanks

    Nuttybird2000

    {email removed} but good luck reaching me there!

    Thanks for listening to me - I know nothing will help, I'm beyond thinking anyone will ever help me. I used to love MSN and even Windows LIve - althought I was an avid MSN Groups user for nearly 10 years and was quite upset last year when they shut us down - I continued to use my hotmail account because it's always worked for me. Now, I'm on my way to check out the other email sites out there, tosee where else I might settle down.

    Take care all.

  • I lost over 10 years of emails and folders and NONE have been restored. Windows help said I had not logged in 270 days. That makes no sense since emails from 2009 to the present are still in the inbox. Can you look into this?

  • @kay321, @Rahul Sharma, and @buss: I've had someone investigate your accounts and none of them appear to have been part of the New Year's outage discussed above, and there appear to be different issues for each of you.

    buss: It looks like your account was disabled due to inactivity for more than 270 days. They’ve temporarily re-enabled it. If you will try signing in to it on the web at http://mail.live.com, you will reactivate it, but you must do so within the next few days for this to work. To prevent this from happening again, be sure to sign in on the website (not in Outlook or another email program) at least once every 270 days. Let me know if this works.

    Rahul Sharma: According to our records for your email account, the account was deleted by you. Is that not the case? Or are you talking about a different email account than the one registered here on the blog?

    kay321: They couldn't find any unusual activity for the Hotmail account that you registered on this blog with. Are you talking about a different email account? If so, please provide me with that email address.

    I hope this helps.

    Antonia Blume, blog editor

  • langware
    154 Posts

    Some clarification on my previous suggestion ...

    I saw this in your "What we've learned" section"

    "We are changing our issue alert process so that when multiple users report missing data, these issues get a higher priority and immediate action. "

    I am just suggesting that you not restrict the improvements (to your issue alert process) to only "missing data" reports, but that the alert process be improved to address any issue that receives multiple reports (over a reasonable threshold).

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Mike Shackwitz (and Chris Jones):

    Thank you for your very thorough and informative post mortem report!!!!!

    One suggestion ... regarding this statement you made:

    "Additionally, because there were a relatively small number of reports, the volume wasn’t high enough to set off alarms. This meant we had a ticket in the system that was getting no action."

    From the perspective of anyone who was browsing Hotmail's forum on the Windows Live Solution Center at the time this problem began, it was very obvious that a serious issue was developing that affected many customers.

    Perhaps the alarm threshold level (for customer complaints about a specific issue) needs to be re-examined?

  • buss
    2 Posts

    I am still missing all my emails. Please help me.

  • No, not all users got their emails back. I am still waiting for my emails for windows live id {address removed}.

  • controlz
    145 Posts

    Thanks for sorting everything out. I wasn't effected by this, but a lot of people were. May I suggest one thing: get rid of the account expiration. Everyone would like Hotmail better if that was the case. Also, make Hotmail storage officially unlimited, like Yahoo! Mail does. Thanks in advance.

  • kay321
    6 Posts

    I have had all my emails dating back to around 2007 (at least) deleted!  Many of these were sentimental and also contained documents for my records, all gone!  I asked your customer service team to help and first of all they just deleted my question without helping me. NOw, they are saying they are deleted forever!  Please can you help me get my emails back as this is really distressing and I can't believe this is happening.  I have another hotmail account which I used to use pop3 and this did not happen!

  • mwebb
    2 Posts

    That's all very lovely, but it's a shame it takes 17000 missing mailboxes before the problem will be taken seriously.

    The same thing happened to me in mid 2009, but I didn't even get a response from your support team. It was on an account I use daily and did not use POP3 on (it may not have even been available then.)

    There's not much to be done for my missing mail now, and I'm an otherwise happy Hotmail customer. But surely you could develop a tool that will let your support team identify the cause of the problem (whether POP3, account expiry or something more mysterious that needs to be investigated) so that users aren't left wondering and you can catch problems before they affect so many people.

  • Glad to see things all set and improvements made.