When 18,000 Hotmail users lost their messages just after New Year, serious doubts were raised about the third-party cloud-based applications involved. It was on 30 December that Windows Live Hotmail, ‘had an issue’ and 17,355 accounts were affected.

In a blog post the Windows Live Team explained the situation. “Customers impacted temporarily lost the contents of their mailbox through the course of mailbox load balancing between servers. We identified the root cause and restored mail to the impacted accounts as of 2 January.”

Microsoft is investigating, but according to comments on the blog there were many customers who were still without their accounts post 2nd January. Microsoft support was criticized as ‘lacking’ by one whilst another described Windows Live Solution Center as far from being ‘live’ and should be shut down.

Microsoft is apparently fixing accounts one by one – if you have a problem – go to a separate Windows Live help page and fill out a report.

Microsoft claims it is taking steps to ensure this will not happen again – which probably means it won’t. But, the incident again raises concerns about the risk involved when using personal email for business purposes – and this was not a human error.