How do I remove the AOL Dialer?

How to disable, remove or delete the AOL Dialer

One question I get fairly often is, “How do I disable the AOL Dialer?” or “How do I remove the AOL Dialer?” How the question is worded matters: disabling the AOL Dialer is not the same thing as removing it. If you remove it, you might not be able to use AOL dial-up to get online.

To connect you to the Web through dial-up, AOL makes proprietary software, called the AOL Dialer, which connects your computer to AOL. It’s up in the air whether you can bypass the dialer by setting up your dial-up connection manually. AOL gives instructions for doing so, but for many AOL users (myself included, back in the day) using a manual setup without the AOL Dialer doesn’t always work, even if your dial-up modem is working fine.

Who still needs the AOL Dialer to connect to the Web?

For the vast majority of AOL users, the AOL Dialer is unimportant, since most of you get online with high-speed broadband or DSL. Those connections are “always-on” with your broadband or DSL modem, so you don’t need the AOL Dialer. For a small number of you, though, (about 5 million out of an estimated 25 million AOL software users) having the AOL Dialer around and working is important, since AOL dial-up is your only connection to the Web.

Who should disable or remove the AOL Dialer?

If, for example, your Mom pays for AOL dial-up but connects to the Web using Comcast high-speed, you might want to simply disable the AOL Dialer in case Mom takes the computer to her summer house where AOL dial-up is the only connection she has. If you’re pretty sure Mom will never use AOL dial-up again, then you can safely remove the dialer altogether (and you can also tell Mom to cancel AOL, since nowadays, AOL gives away all of its services and software for free).

If your only connection to the Web is with AOL dial-up, you should not remove the AOL Dialer unless you sign up with another ISP. The reason for this is that AOL, unlike most other dial-up ISPs, doesn’t always let you connect to the Web using the Windows modem setup dialogs, so if you remove the AOL Dialer, you might not be able to get online.

If you don’t need the AOL Dialer because you (wisely) have chosen another ISP to fulfill your connectivity needs, you can safely disable it, or even remove it, or simply remove the AOL software altogether.

Where is the AOL Dialer on my (or on my Mom’s) computer?

The AOL Dialer is part of AOL’s Connectivity Service (ACS, for short). In some of my tutorials, it’s necessary to remove the AOL Connectivity Service before you can completely remove AOL. When you remove ACS, you automatically remove the AOL Dialer, which is buried two folders deep within the AOL Common Files/ACS directory structure.

AOL doesn’t always include an Uninstaller for the AOL Dialer (it seems to depend on which version of AOL you have), so sometimes the only way to remove it without corrupting other files and folders is to remove the AOL Connectivity Service.

If your version of AOL does include an Uninstaller for the AOL Dialer, you will find it on XP by clicking Start, Control Panel, and choosing Add and Remove Programs, or on Vista by clicking the Start Orb, Control Panel, and choosing Programs and Features.

How to simply disable the AOL Dialer…

1. To disable the AOL Dialer using AOL’s options or Windows options…

Even though you can’t always connect to AOL using the Windows modem dialogs, you can use those same dialogs to disable the AOL Dialer. AOL also offers their own method which should work, and which should keep you out of the Windows Control Panel. If you scroll to the bottom of that page, you will also see AOL’s steps for using Windows options to disable the dialer, or you can use mine:

To disable the AOL Dialer using Windows options, click Start, then click Control Panel. Choose Internet Options, then click Connections within the Internet Options dialog box and click the radio button for “Never dial a connection”. If that doesn’t work, in Control Panel, go to Network Connections (or on Vista and Windows 7, you can choose the Connect To or Network and Sharing Center items from the Start Menu), right-click the AOL Dialer, and select the “Disable” option. Make sure another, more preferred connection is set as the “Default” while you’re at it.

How to remove the AOL Dialer…

This will either delete the AOL Dialer or simply disable it (your choice).

For this method you’ll need to make sure you can view “hidden files and folders” on your computer. To do so on XP, Vista, or Windows 7, click Start, click My Documents, click Tools, click Folder Options, click the View tab, then click the radio button for Show hidden files and folders.

Optionally, you can also enable the display of hidden operation files by unchecking the box that shows you want to hide them.

Now click Start, click My Computer, click C:Program FilesCommon FilesAOLACS, (in AOL 9.6 and later, the AOL folder names are written in lowercase, so the path is C:Program FilesCommon Filesaolacs) then either right-click and rename or right-click and delete all files with the word “AOL Dial” in their names.

There should be three such files: AOLDial.exe, AOLDialr.dll, and AOLDialSvc.dll. If you’re re-naming these files, right-click each one at a time, select Rename, then simply add an extra letter, number, or character to the end of their names, like so: AOLDial*.exe. To get these files working again, just delete the extra letter, number, or character you added to the file names.

How to disable or remove the AOL Connectivity Service (ACS)…

Again, you should only remove the AOL Connectivity Service if you’re sure you or the computer owner will not use AOL dial-up again. If in the future you need to reinstall it, AOL has instructions for that here.

To disable the AOL Connectivity Service, follow the steps on here)…

1. Shut the AOL Connectivity Service down…

Click Start, right-click My Computer, and click Manage.

The Computer Management window will open. Click Services and Applications at the end of the list you’ll see on the left hand side, then double-click on the word Services.

Find the AOL Connectivity Service on the Services list on the top right hand side of the window. Right-click and choose Properties, then click Startup Type Disabled, click Apply, then click Service Status Stopped and click OK. Now the AOL Connectivity Service is disabled.

To remove the AOL Connectivity Service (find the tutorial at Step 1a on this page)…

This removes the Connectivity Service altogether.

For this method you’ll need to make sure you can view “hidden files and folders” on your computer. To do so on XP, Vista, or Windows 7, click Start, click My Documents, click Tools, click Folder Options, click the View tab, then click the radio button for Show hidden files and folders.

Optionally, you can also enable the display of hidden operation files by unchecking the box that shows you want to hide them.

Now click Start, click My Computer, click C:Program FilesCommon FilesAOLACS, (in AOL 9.6 and later, the AOL folder names are written in lowercase, so the path is C:Program FilesCommon Filesaolacs) then click the uninst.exe.

This will run the Uninstaller for the AOL Connectivity Service, which will take a minute. When it’s done you’ll see a dialog box that says, “AOL Connectivity Service has been removed from you computer. Click OK to exit.”

Related posts: How to get your email and browse the Web without AOL.

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