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