Can I still access my old Hotmail account if Microsoft has moved it to Outlook?
There is, unfortunately, a potential security problem with recycling email addresses. If you have used these Hotmail addresses to sign up for any other services, such as Facebook, then you may be at risk. One of the new users could ask a service for a password re-set on one of your accounts, and that service will send the re-set email to the old address. The current (wrong) user will then be able to change the password to your account, and take it over.
Obviously, this is easier with email addresses based on recognisable names. If your account was something anonymous likethen they may not know your real name, unless they receive emails intended for you. But it's not hard to guess that someone who used as an email address will have Facebook and other accounts under the same name.
It's therefore important that you make sure that none of the services you use today – especially any financial services – is linked to one of your old Hotmail addresses.
Of course, once Microsoft has closed an account, further emails will be "bounced": they will be marked as undeliverable and returned to the sender. Sensible people and properly-run companies will notice these bounced emails and stop using that address to email you. However, people who rarely send you email may not see any bounces, or may not act on them.
The problem is about to go beyond Hotmail. Anyone who has ever used a Yahoo email address to sign up for services should also make sure they have a firm grip on that account, or remove it from other services. In a blog post on 12 June, Yahoo's Jay Rossiter announced that "We're freeing up IDs, that have been inactive for at least 12 months" so other users can claim them. If you didn't log on before 15 July, then you have probably lost your moribund Yahoo email address.
As I have been saying for more than a decade, it's better to register your own domain name and use that as an email address. If possible, pay for it for a decade in advance. You can, of course, lose a domain name by forgetting to renew it, but at least you only have to remember to do it every two, five or 10 years. For details, see my earlier answers Master your domain and Solve email problems forever by setting up Gmail with your own domain.
Never lose your emails!
For backup purposes, I set up email accounts in pairs, on different services. I use one as the primary email account (with my own domain name) and the other as a forwarding address. In other words, everything sent to the main email address is automatically forwarded to the second account. It's quite common for people to be locked out of one email address, through no fault of their own, but I reckon I'd be very unlucky to be locked out of two at the same time.
It's also a good idea to use a proper email program such as Microsoft Outlook, Windows Live Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird or possibly eM Client 5 to download and answer emails. Email programs are quicker than web-based email, can consolidate many different webmail accounts in one place, offer many more features for sorting (by sender, by subject line etc) and searching, let you answer emails while you're offline, and guarantee that you have copies of your emails even if you lose access to your account. If you use the IMAP setting, or the more powerful Microsoft Exchange protocols, then you can leave copies of emails on the server. This means you can still access your emails from different PCs and other devices while on the move.
Both Gmail and Microsoft free personal email are suitable free email addresses, and there's not much to choose between them nowadays. Sadly, I find Yahoo mail now almost unusable, and I'd recommend against using it.is a good premium service but it only costs $4.95 per year for home users, and $15 per year for business users; there's a 60-day free trial with no credit card required.
Happily, you no longer have to log in to Hotmail every month to keep your mailbox. Microsoft free personal email , Hotmail and other Microsoft services now stay active unless you fail to log on for 270 days, which is almost nine months. The old rule about logging in within the first 10 days still applies.
Both Gmail and Microsoft free personal email encourage you to enter an alternative email address and a phone number to help you to recover an account if you have problems logging in. If you do have problems, it's very handy to have a security code sent to your mobile phone... as long as you don't lose your phone.
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