I wanted to confirm when you last time accessed your Hotmail account since all free Hotmail e-mail accounts automatically expire if they are not accessed for more than 9 months. Once the account is expired, all the e-mails and contacts saved in the account are automatically deleted. Free Hotmail e-mail accounts need to be signed into at least once every 9 months to prevent the automatic expiration. See more about free e-mail account expiration on this link:
Also, once an account expires, it doesn't accept new incoming e-mails. Any e-mail sent to it will automatically be rejected and a sender will be notified that the account cannot receive e-mails. In case you attempt to log in after the account has expired, you will get a notice to reactivate the account. Once you have reactivated the account, you can continue to use it and new incoming e-mails will be accepted, and youc an also send e-mails; however, old e-mails and contacts cannot be retrieved. They are permanently gone.
I am sorry to report the bad news! If you were expecting an important e-mail, you can inform the sender that your account could not receive new e-mails before, but now it can, so they can resend the e-mail to you.
For future use, make sure to always log in to your Hotmail account at least once every 9 months. You can also signup for a paid version of Hotmail called Ad-free Outlook.com which will protect your account from automatic expiration after 9 months. All the ads will be gone and you will be also entitled for a free phone support in case you encounter a problem with your account. See more about Ad-free Outlook.com here:
Again, I am very sorry you lost old e-mails and contacts! Hopefully, you will now know how to keep your new e-mails secure and accessible.
If there is anything else I can help you with, let me know.