How to recover old email accounts

If you need to get information from an old email account you haven't logged into for a little while, you may find yourself at a loss when it comes to remembering your old login credentials. You can try tapping in common usernames and passwords you've applied to other accounts, but if this doesn't work, you'll need to use your email provider's account recovery tools. Before doing so, it will be worth bearing in mind that some email providers lock or permanently delete accounts if they haven't been accessed for a certain period of time. You won't be able to recover a permanently deleted account.


Go to the Gmail account recovery page and fill the "I don't know my password" checkbox if you've forgotten the password associated with the account you want to recover.

Type the address of the account into the box provided and click "Continue." Enter the last password you remember for the account on the next page or hit the "I don't remember" button if your memory fails you.

Verify a mobile number or secondary email address you linked to your old account if the last password you remember doesn't work. Google will then send you instructions on how to reset your password. If you can't reactivate your account this way, you'll be asked a series of questions about your account and email usage. Google will then contact you via a secondary email address to inform you if the details you've provided are enough to unlock your account.

Microsoft account

Navigate to the Microsoft account recovery page and enter the address linked to the account you're trying to regain access to. Then supply an alternative email address Microsoft can contact you on, fill in the Captcha code and hit "Submit."

Complete the account recovery form on the next page. You'll need to supply your name, date of birth, the answer to the security question you supplied when you signed up for the account, past passwords and account usage information.

Click "Submit." Your information will be sent to Microsoft for review. You'll receive an email within 24 hours letting you know if the information you've provided is enough to unlock your account.

Yahoo! Mail

Get over to the Yahoo! Password Helper, select "I have a problem with my password" and click "Next."

Enter your Yahoo! ID, complete the Captcha code and hit "Next."

Choose whether to send recovery instructions to your alternate email address or answer a selection of security questions to regain access to your account. If you've forgotten your Yahoo! ID, select "I forgot my Yahoo! ID" from the first page of the Password Helper and complete the requested information to restore access to your account.


Gmail also allows you to recover email addresses you've linked to other accounts. Fill the "I don't know my username" checkbox on the Gmail account recovery page, enter the address of an account you may have linked your old account to and click "Submit." A list of accounts linked to the address you supplied will be emailed to you.

If you're trying to recover a work email account or an address provided by an Internet service provider, contact your work network administrator or ISP's customer service department respectively.

If you've deleted an email account and want use the same address with the same provider again, you may be able to set up a new account, provided nobody's nabbed your username since you did away with it.

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About the Author

Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.