new forum account, but I've been training and botting since the beginning. These informations are what I have found to be true on a personal basis. Bans are only bans if you get a message that says 'this account has been terminated due to violation of terms of service' as a pop-up message when you try to login. In the beginning, 'failed to retrieve game data from server' was the ban message.. currently, 'failed to retrieve game data from server' (FtR) is the suspension message. (as an update, niantic has altered the text to read 'failed to get game data from server') the difference: Suspension - you have lost access to the account for an indeterminate length of time Ban - you're done, make a new account If you receive a 'FtR' message, 99 times out of 100 your account is fine, just make a new account and bot that for a while and in 2 to 4 weeks your original account should be accessible again. My theory: while botting, your account meets certain pre-determined conditions. PGO's algorithms detect said mystery conditions and 'flag' your account (warning message). since you're botting, you can't see the message and the behavior may (or may not) repeat. a second 'flag' is set on the account and scheduled for personal review by niantic. Your access to the account is suspended while they investigate why their system flagged your account. it takes a while since there are so many flagged accounts to wade through but eventually they get around to it and slash a few pokemon before removing the flags. your account is now unflagged but you still do not have access to it.. that should be returned in a few days at the next 'dump cycle' where the system releases all the unflagged accounts (think of a shipping truck taking a load of unflagged accounts back to a receiving station) - you now have access to your accounts again. Before PF I was running PGBot which had a flag detector built-in and would give you your flagged status when you logged in. flagged or unflagged react the same when logging in to PF. The system I had in place before coming here was the following: Never bot your main(s) make a lot of accounts. my current count is 45 (43 active). run one account for 4 to 6 hours then stop and move on to the next account. if an account goes 'FtR' on me, I take that account out of my account list and put it in an FtR list, then check it once a week. eventually I can log in again and it goes on the bottom of my list of accessible accounts. if an account gets 2 or 3 100iv 'mons, I level them as high as the account allows and set the account aside to wait for trading, whenever that comes out. I then make a new account. I have accounts that have gone 'FtR' 3+ times and come back to me. In the past 6 months I have not received a single ban. The only accounts I have ever really received a ban on were the first two I made when the game came out. Slashed 'mons take up space - you can't really do anything with them. best to just transfer them out and move on. In my experience, if you catch a 'mon and do not evolve it, you have a 33% chance of it getting slashed in the next couple months. If you evolve it, the chances of it getting slashed drop to about 12.5%. Hatched 'mons do not get slashed. Currently it doesn't matter where the egg came from as eggs are counted as pokemons by the game but treated as items or candy. if your bot walks enough to hatch it, it is counted as a legit 'mon and will even pass review by niantic. candy wont get slashed. even if you get FtR'd after catching/transferring 100 chanseys at an event and using their candy to evolve your legit chansey, your legit chansey is not in danger. These are just my personal observations, experiences and theories based thereupon. I'm sure they will help someone so I thought I should post them here. Consider it my 'hello everyone'.