The Windows Live Hotmail login process is central to a webmail service that can be accessed from anywhere in the world: this convenience requires a user-name-required and password-protected Hotmail sign in to protect your account from unauthorized access to your emails and personal profile settings. So, while everything starts with the sign in form, Hotmail login determines what happens behind the scenes, if your account information is stored in cookies, whether a bookmarked inbox (added to your Favorites) will automatically load or require a new login session beforehand, how long you remain logged in, etc. This page explains what you need to understand about the login process.
Hotmail login settings are determined by the sign in form
As we explained in the Hotmail sign in options and security settings, Windows Live Hotmail gives you full flexibility to choose your own preferences, which puts some of the responsibility on your shoulders; the following section gives you some pointers and explanations:
- The purpose of Hotmail login is to let in only you, and any people you have authorized, access your account and emails; for the safest experience, regularly change your Hotmail password.
- Any option you pick from the sign-in form will be remembered through "cookies" (text files) by the web browser you are using when you check your emails online. Make sure to follow some basic precautions when you sign in to Hotmail from a public computer to keep hackers out.
- Do not share your Hotmail login information ("credentials") with anyone you don't trust.
How does Hotmail login works?
Here are the typical scenarios you will encounter:
- Hotmail login in the case of a new visit:
You go to www.hotmail.com or www.live.com for the first time in this particular browser: Windows Live Hotmail will show you the sign in form, where you need to enter your email address and password to access the service. If you don't check any of the checkboxes, Hotmail will check the credentials you entered with their authentication server: if it matches, you will be redirected to your inbox or the Windows Live home screen; otherwise, you will receive a login error message asking you to re-enter your user name and password. After too many unsuccessful attempts to login, this email account will be temporarily blocked (for security).
- The Hotmail login process for a returning visitor: (all information saved)
When you try to access your Hotmail account another time, Windows Live will first check your cookies: if you chose to remember both email address and password, it will check them against the servers that contain Hotmail users' login information, and either let you in (valid login), or ask you to re-enter your credentials in the sign in form.
- Hotmail login with email address saved: ("Remember password" not checked)
If you try to load your inbox to read your emails, but only your email address was set to be remembered and stored in a cookie, the Hotmail login process will either show the full sign in form, or a partial form that lets you enter your password. Once you click on the "Sign in" button, the usual process happens, and Windows Live checks your credentials.
- Automatic erasing of your Hotmail login information: (or when you manually erase cookies)
Regardless of your Hotmail sign in settings, the cookies that store your credentials will expire after a certain time: at that point, you will be asked to login as described in the first case, above. From thereon, Hotmail login proceeds based on the sign in settings you chose.
These are the four common ways the Hotmail login process works to protect access to your account.
Tip: There are of course exceptions to the standard login process, if you choose to anonymously login to your Hotmail account for example, or if you requested to login with a single-use sign in code (in which case you cannot ask Hotmail to remember your password), or if you manually erase your Hotmail history.
Tutorial last updated on November 26, 2011
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