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.

13 thoughts on “AOL Hometown and Journals shutting down.

  1. I’ve used WS_FTP (Lite, which is the free version) for close to ten years, so I wouldn’t recommend anything else.
    http://www.saddleback.edu/faculty/dbusche/HTML/WS_FTPTutorial/WSDownload.html
    Regarding AOL closing down Hometown and their blogs; I never did get involved in their blogs – I’ve always been at LJ, but years and years ago I had the Travels in the UK portion of my site uploaded to my Hometown space. I still have a little splash page and redirect there. Now, I haven’t had a hit off of that redirect in over five years, and have the files on my hard disk, so just “for fun” I decided to test out the instructions on how to recover my documents via FTP.
    I was able to connect to FTP using WS_FTP following their instructions, but was unable to connect to “my FTP” because I’m no longer an AOL member. The AOL client software must be running and the user must be logged in via that software for their instructions to work, which, in all fairness, they do make clear at the bottom of the instructions.
    So, it looks like current AOL members should have no problem, but previous members are out of luck using FTP to save their files (if they don’t have them saved elsewhere.) They could still hit each page individually and use their browser’s “Save page as” option and grab things that way, though. Not the easiest solution – especially if they have a lot of pages – but a solution all the same.
    Not having an AOL blog, I just tested the “Save page as” technique on the aforementioned instruction page on AOL’s People Connection Blog. It saved all content (including scripts) and images to my hard disk – the only thing missing was the CSS for formatting.
    Okay, lunch break’s over. 😉

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  2. Solution to Backup AOL Journals Content
    Hey Marah,
    I’ve posted the update on my method regarding a way to backup one’s AOL Journal. It’s relatively simple, but people need to follow the instructions exactly in order for it to work right.
    Thanks for sharing my concern in this. It’s really a shame that AOL chose to disenfranchise and abolish their community of users.
    Anyone can check this out and share it with their friends online at:
    http://www.joemanna.com/blog/aol-users-how-to-backup-aol-journals-to-your-computer/
    –Joe Manna
    http://www.joemanna.com/blog/
    (Yes, *that* former AOL employee)

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  3. Yes. Browser downloads (page by page, unfortunately) are one way to do it, and AOL UK has explained the process to AOL users so I don’t have to, so I’ll put a link up for that later. Joe Manna has also created a special tutorial for downloading your AOL journal (see his comment below – but his site appears to be down right now – if so demand for that tutorial must be pretty high) and Vish, the AOL Journals Editor at Magic Smoke is saying that supposedly AOL is working with Google’s blogger.com to get a system up that will automatically transfer your AOL journal to the Blogger platform by Oct. 7th. I’ll link to Vish’s posts later. I’ll also email Vish since I want to know the name of the person or persons and/or the division at AOL who informed Vish of this. I don’t believe it – but I want to believe it, so I’m going to see if I can confirm the story somehow. I’ll add a link to the FTP client you use, as well – thanks.

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  4. Re: Solution to Backup AOL Journals Content
    I’ll try again but I’ve had trouble connecting to your site tonight – it keeps timing out with the message, “Firefox can’t establish a connection to the server at http://www.joemanna.com“. Must be a popular post! Thanks for brainstorming with me via email last night. I’ve spent most of this evening reading as much as I can about this online, but I’m not coming up with any answers other than mine and yours. Except for Vish – so I have to get in touch with the Magic Smoke blogger somehow.
    The post that I told you I had written last night, by the way, has already been written by AOL UK a bit more thoroughly (they cover how to do it using four browsers – excluding Opera, of course), so I’m probably going to junk my version of it and link to theirs instead.

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  5. Re: FTP Clients
    I figured someone would.
    Cute FTP LE is also free, and probably works a lot like it’s premium cousin, Cute FTP. Edit: Cute FTP LE was free on download.com last night but appears to be updated and “free to try” only today. I’ll put a link up for it later.

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  6. As one of the competitors of Circavie I have double feelings. At one side we are glad that we have one competitor less, butt on the other side Circavie was a nice product and I think it is a loss to the community.
    For the people who love Circavie, I think we have a good alternative. http://www.WiseLine.com.
    You can use WiseLine to show the ups and downs in your life by creating a timeline graph of your life. By rating milestones of your life, you turn the chronology of your life into a graph: your WiseLine. WiseLine is a unique internet tool that enables you to visualize your online identity. As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. What used to be a wordy description, can now simply be shared with an easy-to-use widget. It’s a lot of fun to map out the chronology of your life and tweak your timeline in such a way that it represents the ups and downs in your life. You can easily add important moments to your WiseLine like: your first kiss, a special friendship but also your education and working experience. Your personal WiseLine shows who you are on a single line.
    Rick Hermans.

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