Steve Rubel notes that David Krane has a blog on which he recently complained about Yahoo Mail:

Today, I tried to log-in to my account and received this. ARE YOU FLIPPIN' KIDDING ME, YAHOO????? So what if I haven't logged in for four months (I'm not even sure that's the case)?! I've filled out your detailed registration profile. You know a lot of information about me. You have my phone number. You have my IM handle. You have an ALTERNATE e-mail address. My wife even worked for you for more than 7 years! Why no warning of any kind that you were going to shut me down???

I didn't realize that we nuke the mailboxes of accounts that haven't been used in four months. One year is what I would have guessed. Surely we're not out of disk space. We just had that big increase in allowable mailbox size not long ago.

I'd like the record to note that this *royally* sucks. Those 200 or so personal e-mails I was keeping with you are going to be missed. Great user experience, guys.

Well said. It does suck in royal fashion.

Anymore, I use my Y! Mail account for one simple purpose: reading office documents (mostly Word and Excel) when I'm on a Linux box. I can just bounce the message to and then use the built-in converters to see a reasonable HTML version.

But that's pretty rare anymore, so I end up using it about as often as I use the newer account. I guess I'm not really a web mail kind of guy.

Update: Check out Gary Price's story of My Blogspot Domain in which he is similarly screwed by Google. Is anyone else annoyed by all this customer screwing?

Posted by jzawodn at October 30, 2004 08:10 PM

Reader Comments
# Adam Trachtenberg said:

I got nailed by this as well. I was fucking pissed off. I've never used Yahoo! mail since.

on October 30, 2004 09:36 PM
# Tim Converse said:

Agreed that this is pretty bad, especially since as a Y! mail user I don't remember seeing the policy highlighted. Anyone who takes on the awesome responsibility of keeping your data serverside for you should be tellling you in very large letters about any circumstances under which you could lose it.

By contrast, I left $95 in a Chicago checking account and essentially forgot about it. Finally I got a notice from the bank after 4 years of account inactivity --- apparently there's a law that 4 years means abandoned, and the money would go to the state if I didn't reply. Why is this better? 1) 4 years, not 4 months, 2) a positive attempt to track me down, 3) it was only money anyway, not data ...

on October 30, 2004 10:25 PM
# Bryan Price said:

I can't even access my Yahoo! mail account. I've told support to restart it, do whatever, and it just doesn't work any more. Support is clueless as to the problem. Very strange.

on October 30, 2004 10:37 PM
# James said:

Gmail will delete your messages after nine months of inactivity, but they claim that they "cannot guarantee that you will be able to use your previous username again once it has been recycled." I'm not sure that's any better.

And Jeremy, I tried to include a link to the Gmail help page with their policy on dormant accounts, but your comment system says that's "questionable content" and won't allow it...

on October 31, 2004 12:21 AM
# Shantanu Oak said:

>> Anymore, I use my Y! Mail account for one
>> simple purpose: reading office documents
>> (mostly Word and Excel)
>> use the built-in converters to see a reasonable HTML version.

I am getting an error message whenever I click on "View Attachment" link next to the word attachment.

Internal Error
We cannot display your attachment at this time. Please save this attachment to your computer instead.

on October 31, 2004 12:26 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Whoops. Sorry 'bout that.

Fixed now.

on October 31, 2004 12:27 AM
# Aaron Wormus said:

Same thing happened to me. The address was used primarily for the YIM ID, but then I guess I didn't go on often enough (or logged in through GAIM) and when I went to check it one day, I was "politely informed" that everything was gone.

This is one instance when an unsolicited email to the secondary address wouldn't have been a bad thing.

on October 31, 2004 12:27 AM
# Gerald said:

jeremy, do you think it's a good idea to publish your email adresses. or is it a test for spam-filtering ;-)

by the way, at it worked this way:
Your group, ... , has been marked as inactive, because it has had no message activity in the last 90 days or currently has fewer than 2 members. If the group remains inactive for another 30 days, we will delete the group.

20 days after the first warning:
This is our second and final notice to you.
Your group, ... , has been marked as nactive, because it has had no message activity in the last 90 days or currently has fewer than 2 members. If the group remains inactive for another 10 days, we will delete the group.

as i lost my password (i started the group years ago) and it had been not more than a testgroup i let it fall.


on October 31, 2004 04:01 AM
# Aaron said:

Okay... and now for the obvious question. Why don't you just use OpenOffice to view your documents?


on October 31, 2004 05:16 AM
# danielcole said:

To Aaron: I use OO all the time, although at work the newer version of M$ Office (2003?) saves Excel files that OO cannot (yet) parse - they come up as multi-page garlbydegook.

on October 31, 2004 05:32 AM
# Matt said:

Same thing happened to me a few months ago:

Luckily the stuff I cared about was in the address book and that was saved.

on October 31, 2004 06:21 AM
# Don said:

What's the real difference between 4 months and 9 months? I'd guess that it increases your likelihood of coming back from 0.1% to 0.05%. If you haven't checked an email account in 2 months it seems to me incredibly likely that you don't care in the slightest about the account.

on October 31, 2004 08:16 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Habit. OpenOffice either sucked or barely existed several years back.

on October 31, 2004 08:35 AM
# Don said:

Just now reading his post. Interesting he doesn't actually say when he last logged in to yahoo -- it could have been after 9 months, which, as James has noted above, would have given him a better user experience than gmail because of the lost username.

on October 31, 2004 08:52 AM
# danielcole said:

This brings to mind the whole discusion about what happens to your life online when your life off-line gets the final unplugging. With millions of emails being passed around replacing paper-letters and millions (billions?) of digital camera pics taken, what personal information will our great-grandchildren have about us if our letters and correspondence can be so easily lost?
A question to Jeremy: What's the procedure at Yahoo for a family member to gain access to a deceased family member's emails? Any difference in policy between spouce and life-partner?

on October 31, 2004 01:51 PM
# Lynne said:

My yahoo email dissapeard as well. One of the most annoying parts is because I still use the username on Yahoo messenger, I'm unable to sign up again with the same name.

on October 31, 2004 03:50 PM
# Scott Johnson said:

I have had this happen to me once before as well. What made it particularly annoying, other than losing all of the My Yahoo and Yahoo Yellow Pages settings that I had saved, wast that it was almost impossible to unsubscribe from some Yahoo Groups mailing lists once my account had been deleted. I found this type of accound closure to be very unprofessional and annoying.

on October 31, 2004 04:05 PM
# Aaron Brazell said:


It must just be Excel, or features of Excel, because we use Office 2003 at work and I have Word documents generated in 2003 that I read at home, or at school, or on my laptop in OO.

Ah well, no biggie anyways.

on October 31, 2004 05:16 PM
# Chris Shiflett said:

Here is a possible solution (not that it's hard to think of one - this sounds like a case of not thinking at all).

Solicit a secondary email address, and a month before an account is set to expire, send an email and an IM (in case they use Yahoo IM). If the user doesn't provide a secondary email address, doesn't use Yahoo IM, and doesn't log in within the threshhold (whatever it is), there's not much you can do.

A bigger issue I have with Yahoo Mail is being unable to report a bug. I've been using it for years with the same bugs (bugs get more annoying with time), and I've tried multiple ways to communicate my list to Yahoo. A better feedback mechanism would be very helpful for a number of reasons, especially if someone paid attention to it.

on October 31, 2004 10:27 PM
# Anonymous coward said:

what i'd like to know is why in gods name is mr krane still using Internet Explorer? is he a spyware fan or something?

on November 1, 2004 01:51 AM
# Henrik said:

My girlfriend got her Yahoo! Mail hacked by someone, who changed her "real name" to something very nasty and this person also deleted all her email.

I, as her boyfriend, of course contacted Yahoo! to try and restore the lost email and / or take action against the person who did such a thing; no valuable response from Yahoo! at all.

Yahoo! didn't even foward my request within their organization, but demanded from me to use the proper form, and so on.

I felt very disappointed by Yahoo! Inc, and from that day and forward neither my girlfriend or I use Yahoo! for email or similar tasks. (needless to say that I host her and mine email nowadays)

Thanks for a good and informative post, Jeremy.

on November 2, 2004 12:55 AM
# said:

And just for contrast, Hotmail deactivates in 30 days. I honestly don't see why this is such a surprise.

on November 2, 2004 05:36 PM
# popper said:

use yahoopops to pop or backup your yahoo/hotmail emails to your local machine.

on November 2, 2004 10:58 PM
# Minger said:

Did Google's PR guy mention Gmail's security hole?

"The flaw which was discovered by Goldshlagger and was tested many times by Nana's editorial board had shown an alarming success rate. In order not to further jeopardize mail boxes' owners, we will only disclose that the process is based upon a security breach in the service's identity authentication. It allows the hacker to "snatch" the victims cookie file (a file planted in the victim's computer used to identify him) using a seemingly innocent link (which directs to Gmail's site itself). Once stolen, this cookie file allows the hacker to identify himself as the victim, without the need of a password. Even if the victim does change his password afterwards, it will be to no avail. "The system authenticates the hacker as the victim, using the stolen cookie file. Thus no password is involved in the authentication process. The victim can change his password as many times as he pleases, and it still won't stop the hacker from using his box", explains Goldshlagger."

on November 2, 2004 11:29 PM
# Tony said:

A simple search for the word 'inactivity' in Y! Mail help pages shows you that it's 4 month of inactivity

If you havn't used your y! mail account in 4 months, what's the big deal. You can always re-activate the same account again. You would loose your old emails though

on November 8, 2004 01:36 PM
# alisa said:

I received an SMS today telling me that my Yahoo account had been hacked, and leaving an international number to phone. Thinking it a hoax, I deleted it.
I arrived home to discover that my password has in fact been changed.
I really, really, really need my email account - stupidly, my entire web-existence is hooked up to Yahoo.
Does anyone know how to hack back into my own account to reset my password? (Yahoo's 'remind me of my password' feature is telling me either my dob or post[zip]code are incorrect.)

on November 22, 2004 09:04 PM
# Bob said:

I rec'd an offline from an old friend with a link to her new website. I clicked on it, got the yahoo sign-in page, and resigned in (er, duh). No surprise, I was being hijacked by someone else who had theyr messenger hijacked. I contacted Yahoo, with a long list of all the personal data they asked for, with the exception that I couldn't remember the exact AOL address I had 7 years ago. Guess what? You have to know everything, not just DOB, question/answer, name of your first dog, and the rest of questions. Yahoo insists they can't do jack without the EXACT answers to every question. I even implored them to at least disable my stolen account so that others won't get attacked, and they simply say
'For security reasons, if you are unable to supply us with the correct
information, we will not be able to offer assistance with this account.
Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.

Gee, Ruby, don't mention it. It doesn't help that my DSL provider is SBC Yahoo, they just don't, and never have, given a damn about customer service.

on December 11, 2004 02:14 PM
# mr wigles said:

yahoo mail is the worst thing i have ever used. it is the worst email service every made who ever came up with.

on January 22, 2005 07:56 AM
# Phil said:

First, if you cant check your email in a timely manner then you shouldn't have the account in the first place.
Second, it's free, quite ur bitching! You get what you paid for, NOTHING! be thankful it was free.
Third, If you don't like what they did, tough shit! refer to my second point.
I check mine at least once a week or at least every three weeks, but use MSN Premium for my main email which cost me $10.00 a month and has lots of bonuses that I use. It's worth its price.

on July 5, 2005 08:07 PM
# Henry said:

I paid for yahoo's premium service and got horrible service. i've had an account since 1997 . i paid for enough space to have 200 folders to store emails from my customers . each folder had 3-5 emails in it . 3 times in the last 2 years yahoo wiped out all the emails stored in the folders . i use this for my business and check it daily . when i finally found a phone number and talked to customer service , they were absolutely no help . i even spoke to a supervisor in sales. i tried to point out to him that if they are going to be offering business services and web hosting that they should at least treat paying customers with a little respect and maybe even try to solve the problem . he just didn't care , i mean not at all , not even sorry about your luck .

on July 6, 2005 05:20 AM
# henry said:

yahoo's phone number 408 731 3300. pass it on

on July 6, 2005 05:33 AM
# K-Tenacious said:

It used to be 3 sucks..I just personally lost all sorts of personal emails from old friends I had before hell froze over while I was in Boston, MA and they were all turned against me. I wanted the emails to read and remember genuine friendships I once had that were maliciously destroyed to try and kill me from the inside out.

This shit sounds crazy, but its the truth folks.

on November 10, 2006 12:42 PM
# Packy said:

I got one for ya... I had 7,000+ email messages in my Inbox in Outlook Express. I kept getting messages from Yahoo to upgrade my email. So, I did. I chose the "express" install (bad choice). I couldn't get it to install correctly. I have spent 8 years doing desktop support so I think I know what I'm doing. I spent 4+ hours on the phone with freaking India. The upgrade wiped out my 7,000+ messages in my Inbox. No way to get them back. NO instructions with the upgrade tells you it's going to wipe out your Inbox in Outlook Express. It just does it. The F'ing Yahoo helpdesk is worthless. If I kept a copy online I probably could have got my 7,000 messages back but I did not have that option turned on because it's a pain in the ass to me. Thinking of suing the bastards. So, watch out. Pass the word...

on August 23, 2007 02:25 PM
# Vlad said:

Errrm.... these are all FREE services yet you guys complain about them..? You get what you pay for in this life. If you want reliability, then pay a small fee for a commercial service otherwise stop bleating when your free service provider stuffs you.

on November 29, 2007 09:06 AM
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