How to Recover Old Email Accounts

Many email providers allow you to recover old email accounts if you've forgotten the password. Often, you can do this either by answering security questions or by using a linked phone number or other email address to receive a reset code. If you need to find an old email address, this process is more challenging but not impossible if you or your friends and colleagues have copies of your old email.

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Recovering Old Email Accounts

If you've forgotten the password to an email account you haven't used in a while, don't despair. Most email providers have a way for you to recover access to your account.

Many email providers support a way to send a recovery link to a predesignated email address or phone number. When you click this link, you can select a new password and log back into your account. Some providers may allow you to call technical support for assistance, but others only let you work through the automated process. For example, you can't restore a Google account over the phone.

Search your provider's documentation for how to do this. It's a good idea to use a computer you've used before to access the old email address so that the provider is more inclined to believe that you are you.

If you're trying to recover a work-related or school-related account, talk to the IT department for assistance. You may not be able to recover it on your own.

Using Recovery Questions

In some cases, you may be prompted to give the answers to recovery questions to restore access to your email account.

These might be questions that you set up at some point in the account's history, like your mother's maiden name or your favorite childhood pet, or they could be questions about the account itself, such as what phone numbers are associated with it or roughly when you opened it. You may also be asked questions about yourself, like your full name used on the account or your date of birth.

Make sure to keep this information private, since it can be used to hijack your accounts. If anyone is assisting you with trying to get your accounts back, make sure it's a friend, relative or colleague you trust.

Find Old Email Accounts

In some cases, you may have forgotten the exact email address you used with a given provider.

If that's the case, you might be able to find an old email address in your records. Perhaps you printed an email from that account or forwarded it to another address and can find the address in a file cabinet or online. If you know you used the address to email a specific person, you can see if that person has a copy of an email from you or remembers your address.

Otherwise, some providers will still work with you to try to restore your account. You need whatever information you signed up with, including your full name, security question answers and any backup email address or phone number you provided. Check your provider's documentation for details.

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