Frequently Asked Questions about Deactivation

I really like my account! Can I keep it? Please?
Unfortunately, for both technical and legal reasons, we cannot provide continuing accounts for people who have left MIT and no longer have an affiliation with it.

I'm a student taking a Leave of Absence or on Medical Leave, will my account still be deactivated?
Our information comes from the Registrar's Office, so if you are not a registered student, your account will be flagged for deactivation (and probably is, if you received the notification). You should have your advisor, departmental administrator, S^3 dean, or other suitable person send e-mail to requesting that your account be sponsored until you return and giving us your anticipated date of return. This must be done manually - we have no other source of information about medical leaves or leaves of absence.

What if I'm still working with my professor on my thesis work?
Just have your professor send an email message to asking to sponsor your account as a guest of theirs. There is no charge for sponsoring a guest account, but they have to be willing to take responsibility for you having the account.

I still need access to some of the MIT Libraries resources, can I keep my account for that?
If you are currently working with a professor, you can have them sponsor you as mentioned above.

Note that alumni can still visit the MIT Libraries and access some electronic resources on-site, without an Athena account. See "Library Services for MIT Alumni/ae" for more information.

Will you send me the contents of my account on CD or DVD?
No, we do not have the resources or the time to do this. We recommend you backup any important files in your account using secure file transer software (e.g. Fetch, SecureFX). Alternatively, you can connect a USB flash drive to most Athena machines and you can also burn CDs/DVDs with the contents of your account. For more information, please see this article.

What about my e-mail? Can I back it up?
Your best option for backing up your e-mail stored on the IMAP or Exchange servers is to use an IMAP e-mail program (e.g. Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird) on your personal computer and copy all your mail to local folders. For more information, please see this article. We are unable to provide assistance migrating your e-mail to another commercial service, such as Gmail.

Will I still be able to access my e-mail with WebMail or OWA?

I am a voucher employee (or a contractor), and I'm still working in the same office. Why is my account being deactivated?
Voucher employee accounts are created with a fixed duration, but they can easily be extended. Just have whoever you're working for send email to letting us know that you're still here.

I'm not working with anyone at MIT any more, but I'd be willing to pay for my account.
Sorry, no, we can't take bribes either.

What if I come back later this year? Will all my files be gone?
For about a year after deactivation, your account is not purged from the system. If you return to MIT, then your account can be quickly reactivated, and all your files will still be there.

What about my email? Will my email be lost?
Your account will be removed from the mail servers a month after it is converted from "suspended" to "deactivated". So, it will be purged two months after the initial suspension, on or around March 23. If you return to MIT after that point, you will be set up with a new mailbox.

If my account is reactivated, what will the password be?
It'll be the same as it was before the account was deactivated.

My email is currently being forwarded to another address. Will that continue?
Forwarding will continue for one month after deactivation, while your account is "suspended". After that, when the account is fully deactivated, mail which is addressed to your account will be bounced back to the sender, regardless of whether you are currently forwarding your mail or not. One reason that we notify account holders several months prior to deactivation is so that they can contact their email correspondents to let them know about a change of address.

I heard that as an alum, my account would be for life.
You are probably thinking of "Email Forwarding for Life", which is provided by MIT's Alumni Network Services. This is an email forwarding address at To sign up for Email Forwarding for Life, register at

How do I know which machines are in my name, and if they're going to be deactivated?
Only machines which are specifically listed as student-owned will be affected by deactivation. If you are a student, and you signed up for one or more host names with the RCCs, then those are the machines that will be deactivated. To see which machines you own, log in to Athena and do this:
athena% athrun rescomp ghbo
If some of the machines are in common areas (for example, a workstation in your hall lounge), you can transfer the ownership to another MIT student living in that dorm. Simply fill out a "Help Request" at and state that you want the hostname transfered to another student.

What about my MIT Dropbox account?
After your account is deactivated, you will no longer be able to use Touchstone to log into your MIT Dropbox for Business account, and some time after that, your MIT Dropbox folder will be shut down. Shared folders that other people have access to will still be available to them in their own Dropbox accounts. If you want us to transfer the contents of your MIT Dropbox folder to another MIT Dropbox user, please let us know you would like us to do so.

What is the difference between suspension and deactivation?
Suspension prevents you from logging into your account; deactivation gets rid of the account (and automatically removes the mailbox a month later). We start by suspending the account, so that if there is a mistake, it can be easily fixed without your mail bouncing or your web pages being removed; after a month of suspension, we convert the account into full deactivation.