A number of Hotmail users are reporting that late on New Years Eve their emails and email folders appeared to have been deleted.
Instead, their Hotmail account simply contains a welcome message standard to new accounts.
The problem is not specific to any particular country, and has caused a mass of complaints to be posted to the official Hotmail forums.
While Hotmail staff have tried to assure users that recently deleted emails can normally be recovered from Hotmail servers, so far there appears to have been no reported fix to the issue.
Free email services are convenient and easy to use, but rarely offer any protections against lost data because of limited contractual liability.
It’s certainly not the first time some Hotmail users have suffered problems with the service - back in 2008 reports were posted of user email addresses not even being recognised.
It remains to be seen whether Microsoft have any redundancy in the system to recover the lost data. However, rarely do such instances ever result in data being recovered.