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How to Permanently Delete Your Hotmail and Windows Live Account

Delete your Microsoft Hotmail Windows Live account

Over the last decade, Hotmail has seen the lion’s share of complaints from both paying customers and free users.  Someone on YouTube even recently wrote a rap video that explained rather intelligently several of the problems that plague Hotmail; and if you have a Windows Live email account, the only difference is the domain name.  Many people nowadays have turned to Google or Yahoo! for their free email solution.  If you’re one of those people, you probably have an idle Windows Live Hotmail account laying around and here is how you can delete it.

 

Despite the transition many have made to Gmail and other services, Microsoft still claims 360+ million Hotmail/Live users.  Could that truly be accurate?  Possibly, but it might not be people actually using the service.  We’ve looked before at how to go about permanently deleting a Facebook account, but I think Microsoft may have Facebook beat in terms of deletion-difficulty.

Important information about deleting your Windows Live Hotmail account.

  • You cannot close a Hotmail or Windows Live account that is linked to a paid subscription such as Hotmail Plus or MSN Premium.  You must first deactivate the paid subscription to return the account to “free” status.
  • Hotmail is managed by your Windows Live account and hence connected.  You can’t close just the Hotmail account without closing the entire Windows Live account.
  • It takes 270 days to actually close the email account after putting in the request.  The entire Windows Live account itself will not close until 365 days have elapsed.
  • Once you close an account it should stop accepting new email messages.
  • Interestingly, even after 365 days of inactivity, your Windows Live ID and password will persist on the server unless someone attempts to register a new account using your exact Live ID.  (This worked for me with an account I haven’t used in over 3 years.  I was able to just log right in, although all of the data was wiped.)

 

Step 1

Sign in to your Hotmail or Windows Live account.  Now open up your Hotmail inbox.  From your inbox Click Options > More options…* from the box that appears in the top-right corner, just below your username. 
Once the options page loads, Click Account details (password, aliases, time zone) under the Managing Your Account subheading.

*Interestingly enough, I couldn’t find a button to access account options anywhere else on live.com.

hotmail tab on windows live website

hotmail options and more options hotmail account details page

Step 2

Scroll down to the bottom of the account details page and Click the Close your account link.

close your hotmail account

Step 3

Now you’ll likely see a page like the one in the screenshot below, which basically tells you that you cannot close your account because of reason xyz.  It’s hogwash, all of it.  But on every Live Hotmail account I attempted to close I ran into this or a very similar window.  Basically you’re blocked from deleting, unless you know the secret deletion URL that bypasses this whole process.

can't close hotmail account, paid services that dont exist 

Step 4

If the above steps didn’t work for you, which is likely, you’ll need to use the super-hidden deletion link: Click here to go directly to the account closure confirmation page.

Hotmail will notify you of what we already know, it will take 270 days to permanently close the account.  Geez, and I thought Facebook’s 2-week policy was bad!  Well, at least Hotmail isn’t publicly displaying your emails…

Click Close account and don’t sweat it.  If you want your account back all you have to do is login and the whole deletion process is canceled.

the real closure link

Assuming that the close account button worked this time, you’ll see a confirmation page lettin you know your account data will be deleted.  About that: Before writing this I let an account sit closed for two weeks.  Now, I just reactivated it and all of my email messages and contacts are sitting right where I left them.  Perhaps by a “few days,” Hotmail really means a “few months.”  Maybe it doesn’t even delete your messages until the 270 days are up? I don’t know, and I sure don’t want to cancel it halfway through to find out; it’s a possibility.

your account data probably won't be deleted

Conclusion

Deleting your Windows Live Hotmail account is a lot harder than it should be, unless you know about the secret closure-confirmation link.  The deletion process also takes a lot longer than it ought to, 270 days?  Come on!  That makes Facebook’s 14-day day deletion period seem like nothing.  Microsoft may tout it’s 360+ million Hotmail users, but I’m willing to bet that a good chunk of them are just people who are no longer active and haven’t deleted their accounts yet.  With that all said, I also don’t really see a reason to delete your Windows Live Hotmail account.  Microsoft has one of the best privacy policies out there, and if you leave it idle for more than a year it should just delete itself anyway.

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30 Responses to How to Permanently Delete Your Hotmail and Windows Live Account

  1. calia June 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    haha, love the sad faces. I didn’t know it was such a pain to delete a hotmail account. It was way easier than this when I deleted one of my Gmail accounts. -The process was also instant, no 270 day wait period.

  2. ez-r June 9, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    The 270 day wait period is ridiculous. And no, they don’t delete your emails or contacts until the entire time period has elapsed.

    Here is the better way to delete your live/hotmail account.

    1. Delete all of your emails, contacts, personal information, pictures. Everything! Delete it all. Don’t leave any of it on the live website.
    2. Change the password to something you’ll never remember, so that you can’t login by accident or otherwise.
    3. Wait 1 year.
    4. Create a new account using the same email address, this will permanently ensure that all of the data from your old account is scrubbed from the hotmail servers.

    That is all.

    • Andre July 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

      “3. Wait 1 year.” LOL

  3. andrea June 10, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    the link is not valid anymore

  4. Pseudonomoys July 12, 2011 at 3:36 am #

    The reason for the 270 days is that the next user won’t get email addressed for you and you can’t access old web accounts. Phone numbers in Australia have a 180 day (6 month) dormancy period as well so that just say the previous owner was a hot girl you won’t get love sick puppies continually emailling you. ;)

    • MrGroove July 12, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      Very good point. People should think about this before they delete an email account. Probably deserves a full write-up on this very topic. Thanks.

    • jonas November 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

      I deleted my account more than 540 days ago with all the necessary steps just like above AND believe it or not
      I tried it out:

      I registered again with the same emailadress as before and it was not possible!!! So I guess Windows keeps all your information for ALWAYS!! that is reallity after more 540 days!

  5. Mandy March 24, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    Link worked great for the LIVE account I wanted to close, but I get the same hogwash warning with respect to the HOTMAIL account I want to delete. Any tips?

  6. Bill April 13, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Thanks so much for providing that link. I was so tired of my account getting hacked. I had deleted all my contacts and they still got spam from me every so often. I’m just hoping that by logging in to xbox live it doesn’t reactivate the service.. Thanks again!

  7. Maiya April 15, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    Thankyou! i’ve been trying to work out how to close it for ages! :L

  8. Jason April 20, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    Austin,

    You, Sir are AWESOME!! That link was golden.

    Thanks for the help!!

  9. Helpful Tip June 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    I simply changed my Windows Id to DeleteMe@live/hotmail.com and that got rid of my old Live ID instantly.

    Now of course it is transferred to the new id, but if you delete all the information on the account prior to changing your ID, your golden. Now just leave the new id alone forever, and try logging in with the old one. It will not exist anymore.

    This helps you get rid of your windows id with your actual name in it like, @live/hotmail.com.

  10. MH July 2, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    I’ve been trying to delete my account for weeks and I couldn’t because of an error message. The link in Step 4 worked perfectly, Thank you so much! i just wish they really just delete it like gmail does instantly.

    • Steve Krause July 6, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

      Yeah I agree. I think they keep it around so if someone hacked your account and delete it, it will stick around for awhile. That said, they should have a better confirmation process to instantly delete it using a mobile txt MSG perhaps….

      That said, welcome to my blog groovypost! Hope to see you around the site!

  11. Katie July 6, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    When I tried to close it on my own, it said ‘temporary proplem blah blah blah’ but the link worked thanks so much! :D

    • Steve Krause July 6, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

      You are very welcome! Glad it worked and welcome to groovyPost!

  12. Stacey Frith-Smith July 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    Austin: tried your link tonight and got the “blah blah” temporary problem message. Help?

  13. Ryan McCarthy July 18, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    OK, here is my issue.
    Hotmail claims I have one or more paid accounts. This stems from my previous ISP (Verizon), where you could link the two accounts and receive MSN Premium for free. I closed the account I had with my Verizon account and forgot about the linked accounts.
    On top of this the link provided by Hotmail is not valid, because Verizon no longer offers the option of linking accounts.
    I contacted MSN and the rep I spoke with said she closed MSN Premium account and I could close my Hotmail account 30 days later. A little over 30 days later I tried closing the account and I discovered that I was still linked with my old Verizon account. So I called MSN and was told it would take 90 days and not 30 days. It has been about 9 months and the link still appears. I find this annoying and can’t seem to find a way out.
    Any thoughts?

  14. Emily September 10, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Wanted to thank you for this information. I’ve been trying to close it for a while. Just followed your instructions using the “super hidden deletion” link and it worked great. Thank you for taking the time to post this!

    • Steve Krause September 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

      HI Emily!

      You bet. It’s my pleasure. I’m glad it all helped you out!

      Thanks again for the feedback.

  15. JEK September 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    why the hidden link doesn’t work for me? It says the option is not available for my account

  16. 京子3000 November 18, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    That’s just ridiculous! I mean why would I want to wait 270 days!? -_-

  17. najia January 7, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    delet my account permanently

    • Steve Krause January 7, 2013 at 10:08 am #

      Hello.

      Just an FYI that I cannot delete your Facebook account. You need to follow the steps of my article in order to do that yourself.

  18. Tim March 8, 2013 at 4:14 am #

    Hi Steve,

    your article is great.

    Unfortunately Microsoft has deactivated the functionality of the link that you provided in step 4. If you click on Close Account you’ll get an error message (temporary problems, pls try again). I have given up.

    Not allowing customers to get out of a service is torture. I was never a friend of MS-bashing, but this is the end of my loyalty.

    Any idea what I can do? Even posting this issue on the MS community website is not possible – guess they are swamped with this..

    Cheers, Tim

  19. Sam June 18, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    Hi,

    I just used that link and it worked just fine. Said ‘account has been deactivated’.

    This was driving me mad going in bloody circles just to get out of a service that had nothing ‘linked to it’whatsoever. Another -1 to Microsoft in my opinion. That is after Windows 8 (-1), Windows phones (-1), XBOX One (-1)…

    They’re turning into a real pain in the arse. Thanks for sharing that link, bloody Microsneaks.

    Thanks,

    Sam.

  20. loella July 28, 2013 at 1:00 am #

    link not working :(

  21. n July 28, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    For those of you trying, NEW LINK:

    https://bay176.mail.live.com/mail/CloseAccountConfirmation.aspx

    • Steve Krause July 28, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Thank you for the new link. Will need to update the article.

  22. Lance August 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I try to close my hotmail account but it takes me to a server error message and to try back later…been trying to close it for two weeks becuase it is sending weird messages and I am starting to look unprofessional.

    Called support and they told me there was nothing that anyone could do and I would have to jump through the hoops on their website.

    Any ideas how I can get this done?

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