Is it possible to recover emails in my Hotmail account from between 2008 and 2009? I no longer have the computer that I opened the messages on.
Inactive Hotmail Accounts
First, how long has it been since you signed into Hotmail? Microsoft automatically deletes all folders, messages, and contacts from accounts it deems as inactive. For new Hotmail accounts, an account is deemed inactive if a new user doesn't sign in within the first 10 days of creating the account. For established users, Microsoft considers an account inactive if the user hasn't signed in for over 270 days. If it's been longer than about nine months since you've signed into your Hotmail account, your 2008 and 2009 messages are likely long gone.
How to Tell if Your Hotmail Account is Inactive
When Microsoft deems an account inactive, it will reserve your account name for you. However, any email sent to your inactive account will be returned to the sender as undeliverable. Knowing this, you could send your old Hotmail account an email using an alternative email address. If it comes back as undeliverable, then you'll know your account has likely been marked as inactive and its folders and messages permanently purged.
Accessing an Active Hotmail Account
Hopefully your account is still active and it's just a matter of signing in and retrieving your old messages. However, if your old computer used a POP3 email client such as Outlook Express to download your messages, it's possible that those older emails don't reside on the Hotmail server. This depends whether the email client had the "Always leave a copy of the message on the server" option enabled or disabled. If it was disabled and since you no longer have your original computer, those messages would be unrecoverable.
Assuming your account is still active and your messages remain on the Hotmail server, you may need to sign in on your new computer. If you've forgotten your password, you should be able to reset it as long as you know your original Windows Live ID and had previously completed the required reset options (such as supplying an alternate email address or mobile phone number.