AOL Hometown and Journals shutting down.

AOL has announced that AOL Hometown and Journals are shutting down on Oct. 31st. The first I heard of it was in an email today from “C”:

This morning me and the millions of other AOHell users who have Journals at AOL received an email saying effective Nov. 1, there would not longer be an AOL Journals. Do you know of any blog sites (free or for a fee) that would allow me to transfer my current AOL Journal to their site?

Hope you can help me. Your site is awesome.

To answer her question: No, I don’t know of any blog sites that will let AOL users transfer journals to them.

Me and Joe Manna, a blogger who used to work for AOL, seem to agree that AOL should let you export your journal in a comma-delimited (CSV) or XML file format so you can transfer your blog to WordPress.com, Blogger.com and even LiveJournal.com. I spent hours today looking for a way to back up your AOL blogs into a CSV or XML file format but I came up empty-handed.

I’ll publish a post soon explaining how to back up your AOL journals using a method that most people won’t think of right off the bat – unless Joe comes up with a better method than mine. My how-to is almost ready to post, but Joe wrote tonight that he’s updating soon on how to export your AOL journals, and he mentions that using FTP to export AOL Hometown blogs is actually useless because Hometown no longer allows access through FTP. Joe might have a better method than I do for backing up your journals so I’m going to wait for his post to arrive before I publish mine.

How to back up your journals in the meantime…

In order to follow AOL’s instructions to back up journals you’ll need an FTP client. The most popular FTP clients aren’t free. I hate to think of all the money AOL users will waste to download their AOL blogs – a one-time event that might leave them $30-$40 lighter for an FTP client that they may never use again.

With that in mind, I came up with a list of absolutely free FTP clients to choose from. No matter what you do, please don’t spend a dime to backup your blog.

Absolutely Free FTP Clients

  1. Flash FXP. From the publisher’s description: FlashFXP uses a familiar, Explorer-like interface that even the most novice user can master in minutes.
  2. Core FTP. From the publisher’s description: This fast and free FTP client …. is now free for business, personal and educational use.
  3. FileZilla. From the publisher’s description: The program lets you transfer files and navigate among folders, Web sites, and your computer …. [and] enables you to perform multiple file transfers simultaneously.
  4. FTP Commander. From the publisher’s description: This software enables you to perform multiple file transfers simultaneously.
  5. FTP Surfer. From the publisher’s description: FTP Surfer is a professional FTP client featuring an Internet Explorer style user interface including an address bar, history, and favorites menu.
  6. WS_FTP Lite. From my friend skellorg‘s description: I’ve used WS_FTP (Lite, which is the free version) for close to ten years, so I wouldn’t recommend anything else.

If you’ve come up with a better way than FTP to back up your AOL journal please let us know about it in the comments, or send me an email.