How to download your AOL Journal or Hometown with BackStreet Browser.

Last updated 10-15-2008 with “Copy To” steps.

AOL Hometown and Journals will close down on Oct. 31st. All journals and uploaded content will be deleted, so download your files from AOL’s servers as soon as possible. What follows is a tutorial for Windows users on how to use BackStreet Browser to download your files from AOL.

UPDATE 10-8-2008: Hi, J-Land members. Thanks for stopping by. Good news for you today – instead of downloading your journals using FTP, a traditional web browser, WGet or Backstreet Browser (methods that all have their drawbacks) as of this morning you can now export (that is, “transfer”) your journal directly to Blogger by following the simple steps on this Blogger Help page. If you want to then export your blog to WordPress, just follow these instructions. As I find more platforms you can export your new Blogger blog to, I will add more links to this post.

The best way to back up your AOL Journals and Hometown websites is with an absolutely free website downloader called BackStreet Browser. I tested this downloader on the Magic Smoke Blog at AOL and my own blogs and it worked perfectly. Downloading your files is fast, easy and does not require any action on your part once you set BackStreet Browser up. Let’s get started…

1. Download and install BackStreet Browser.

Download the BackStreet Browser and save it your Desktop, then click on the saved file to run the Installer and follow the prompts it gives you. The downloader will be ready to launch in just a minute.

2. Select the website to download.

Attention dial-up users: If you use a dial-up connection, see this screen shot for instructions on how to set it up.

The first screen that pops up (if it doesn’t, go to File -> Tools or click on New to start a new project) will ask you to set your Project Properties. Copy and paste the link to your AOL journal or website into the box next to where it says URL.

Enter URL of website to download.

Type the name of your project next to where it says Title.

If you’re happy with the default Folder location you can leave it alone; otherwise click on the little yellow folder to the right of where it says Folder, then navigate to the folder you want to save your files to.

3. Adjust BackStreet Browser settings.

The tab you’re on near the middle of the window says Load. You can leave the Load settings alone or change them if you like. Repeat for tabs to the right of Load: File Filter, URL Filter, the Connection tab (which you can use to connect through FTP or an HTTP proxy) and Others (which you can use to keep AOL’s folder structure or to create a single folder to save all your files).

FYI: I left all of these settings alone. The default settings should work fine for most users.

4. Download your website.

When you’re done tweaking your settings, press OK. The website download will start automatically. Depending on how many files you’re downloading and the content of each file, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to download all of your files.

5. View and work with your files.

When the download is finished, there will be a side panel in the BackStreet Browser window with a folder in it. The name of the top folder will be Workspace and it will have a button with a little plus sign next to it. Click the button to expand the folder tree. The next folder will contain the files you downloaded from AOL and will also have a button with a plus sign next to it. Click the button to show the folders beneath it, and keep repeating until you get to the files themselves.

Viewing and working with your files.

Click on image to expand it.

Click on the files and the URLs to your actual pages will show up in the right hand panel. Move your cursor to the right-hand panel and click on a link to open it in the BackStreet Browser. It’s that simple.

When you’re done BackStreet browser will automatically “save your workspace” so you don’t have to, but if you want you can click File and Save Workspace, give your workspace a name and choose where you want to save it.

6. Copy and save your files to a new location.

BackStreet Browser automatically makes a back up of every file you download and saves it to Program Files->BackStreet Browser-> Data, but if you want to save a second copy of your Journal or Hometown files to your computer, here’s how.

After the download finishes and all of your files are automatically relinked, click the Copy To button along the top left of the window.

Click 'Copy to' Button to copy files to new or existing folder on your PC.

A box will open that will ask you browse to the folder you want to save your downloaded files to. Either select a folder from the choices given, or click the Create button to create a new folder.

Select folder to copy files to, or click 'Create' for a new one.

If you choose to create a new folder, it will automatically be given the name “New Folder”. Click on that name to change it. I changed my folder’s name to “My AOL Journal”.

The Sometimes Blog has a new tutorial up that covers all the finer points on how to use BackStreet Browser. It’s an excellent guide to help you learn exactly how BackStreet works – go check it out!