AOL Journal Users: How to get your files when all else fails.

The options you’ve been given for preserving your years of writing, photo-swapping and friendship-making on AOL Journals are not all that great: you can either download your files or transfer them to a new web host named Blogger. That’s all.

Not only are your options limited, since AOL put little thought into helping you move elsewhere, some of you are also having problems transferring your files.

This post is about how to capture your data if every other method has failed you.

The good news is you still have 12 days left – almost two full weeks – to download your files. The bad news is you must get cracking now or your files will be deleted by AOL on Oct. 31st. This can be time-consuming, so be sure to set aside some time to get it done.

Using Notepad – or Word – to copy your HTML files.

On using Notepad…

Notepad automatically saves your files as text files unless you specify otherwise. I suggest you save every page on your journal with Notepad as a text file. Doing so will ensure your files can easily be uploaded to another service.

The neat thing about Notepad is you can also save your CSS and HTML files with it…just change the file’s extension. To do so, click File->Save As, then type the name of the document and add either .css, .htm or .html to the file name.

On using Word the right way…

Unless you save your raw HTML pages correctly, Word will use the Document (DOC) format to save your files, which can mess up your HTML when you try to transfer it to another blog or journal service.

If you use Word, make sure you save your files as plain text files. Plain text files are preferred, since they can easily be uploaded to another blog or journal service. To do so, in Word select File->Save as Text. In Word 2007, select the Word logo in the upper right corner and then select Save As.

Saving your files as HTML requires you to open each saved web page in a web browser, to right-click each page and to copy the source to Notepad or Wordpad (making double work for you!), or to hunt through your saved data manually to find the text file that contains your HTML. If you want to make it this hard on yourself, in Word select File->Save as Web Page. In Word 2007, select the Word logo in the upper right corner and then select Save As.

Downloading your Blogger blog to your hard drive…

To save a copy of your entire blog once it’s on Blogger, follow the instructions here.

Getting a domain name for your blog on Blogger…

Once you’ve imported your AOL Journal to Blogger, this Blogger Help page gives you instructions on how to use a custom domain name ( as opposed to with their blog service.

On using Blogger as an import/export tool…

This is a bit naughty, but you can use Blogger as an import/export tool. If you don’t want a Blogger blog, but you do want an easier way to transfer your journal to another hosting service, this might be your ticket – as long as your journal transfers to Blogger without any problems.

First, following the simple steps on this Blogger Help page for importing your journal to their platform, then follow these instructions to get it onto WordPress instead. Doing it this way completely automates everything…you just have to click a few buttons, type your current journal or blog address in here and there, then wait for your transfers to finish. When you’re done, you can delete your Blogger blog if you want by following the instructions here.

(AOL Pictures is closing down on Dec. 31st)

How to save pictures stored on AOL Pictures or AOL FTP…

Hint: Pictures take up a lot of space on your computer’s hard drive, so ensure you have enough space before you get started. Click Start->My Computer, then right-click the hard drive you wish to save your pictures to and choose Properties.

A small window will open with a small, color graphic that shows you how much space is free. You may need up to one Gigabyte of space or more for your pictures, so make sure that much space is still available.

It helps if beforehand you create a new folder on your computer to hold your pictures. To do so, click Start->My Documents, then right-click on an empty white space and choose Create New Folder. The new folder will be named “New Folder” by default. To change it click on the name and type in the name you want.

To save your pictures, while browsing your journal in a web browser, right-click each picture and choose Save Picture As… (IE wording) or Save Image As (Firefox wording).

If you have room on your hard drive for some but not all of your pictures, you can download a small amount of them at a time to your computer, then upload them go a free photo hosting service like Flickr or Photobucket, then delete them from your hard drive, download another batch and repeat until you are done.

How to transfer pictures without downloading them…

With a free Photobucket account, you don’t have to save pictures to your computer at all. Just log into Photobucket and keep the Album page open in one tab or window; in another tab or window open your journal page, then right-click each picture on your pages and choose Properties (in IE). Find and copy the URL and paste it into Photobucket’s Web URL upload slot. In Firefox right-click each picture and choose Copy Image Location. Once you’ve copied the URL paste it into Photobucket’s Web URL upload slot.

Photobucket includes a mass uploader with technically unlimited uploads, but the more pictures you upload at once, the longer it will take, so I suggest not uploading more than one picture at a time on dial-up, or more than 10-20 at a time at higher speeds.

A question for AOL Journal users…

Does anyone reading this want me to post about free journal and blog services you can transfer your files to besides Blogger and WordPress? If so leave me a comment; enough “aye” votes and I may write one. I tend to shy away from recommending any blog or journal service because there is too much politics involved in making such recommendations. If there is a strong demand to know about more free services, though, I may try to fulfill it.

10 thoughts on “AOL Journal Users: How to get your files when all else fails.

  1. Please continue to supply this free information. I’ll highlight your blog within the migrated J-land community on AOL, some of whom are up the wall with despair about the lack of info.


  2. “…some of whom are up the wall with despair about the lack of info.”
    Yes, I know. I’ve read some of their journals, and I see how little help AOL has given them in moving on. AOL’s instructions regarding saving your raw HTML with Word aren’t even specific enough to keep you from saving your files the wrong way. Their instructions for FTP don’t work for Hometown users. Google’s instructions for migrating to Blogger don’t work for people with large journals or OBJECT or EMBED tags on their pages, and no one responds to specific complaints on the Blogger Boards, they just turn a deaf ear and make promises they don’t seem to keep.
    On top of everything else, your migration from AOL Journals has been given a timeline of just thirty days from announcement to journal deletions – despite how badly thought-out moving you folks to a new journal home was, and despite how thoughtless everyone has been about it in the days since then.
    There are over 100,000 journal users affected by this move. That is a lot of people – for context, there is one LJ clone around that thought it had made the big time when it finally reached that many users last year! He had to upgrade his servers, which were constantly crashing, like every other day once usage climbed that high.
    On top of that, AOL abandoned a really active, really vibrant, really friendly community, which kind of stuns me. I’ve been quite impressed with just how active you are as writers, and how friendly and decent all of you seem to be. I feel for you – losing your journal “home” is one of the hardest things that can ever happen to you online, especially on such short notice and with so few resources to turn to, so I’m doing what I can to help.


  3. AOL Pictures transfer
    I am a newbie Mac user with an AOL pictures account with tons of photos on it. I do not want to download them all- instead I would like to transfer them to another site. Can I do that on a Mac? What do you suggest? I appreciate any input at all…


  4. Re: AOL Pictures transfer
    “As of Nov 23rd, most files and images are still available with FTP.
    Amazing. I had no idea that was the case.
    Thanks for the link – I think I’ll try to work it into a new post soon since I’ve noticed demand is still high to get files from AOL…just a few things…
    1.) The second step on your page reads: “2….For Password, use the right paren “(“, which will show as * .” Most people will figure it out without me saying so, but that’s the left parenthese…just saying. 🙂
    2.) Does this transfer method work for AOL Journals users or just Hometown users? I’m assuming just the latter group can access files…
    3.) At the end of your article you mention AOL spent four hours as the first visitor on your new page…was the IP from They have servers for visitors from headquarters, DC area, legal and so on (yep, I’ve seen them all…I think legal visits every once in a while just to scare me). The rest of their traffic seems to come mostly from Reston, Virgina, but in fact is being tunneled through Reston from all over the country…just curious what turned up in your logs for that one visit.
    Edit: Posted at


  5. Re: AOL Pictures transfer
    Thank you for the correction on the LEFT parenthesis “(“. I just fixed the page.
    I’ve had people tell me the procedure I give works pretty good.
    As for Journal files, I looked into it and don’t think it’s possible. It appears that AOL handled journaling differently. Even the WayBack Archive doesn’t offer much. Google cache only has a limited view, no images.
    I might make an entry to the page mentioning this, but wanted to do a little more looking around first. It would be nice to help people save their journals too.
    Thanks again for the correction 🙂


  6. Re: AOL Pictures transfer
    Hi again,
    Just some further clarification on AOL server access. My method using FTP will work on any AOL account that has”username”/. This means just about all AOL members. I can grab any username I find on the net and view that directory. For example, just 2 minutes ago I found user RWLinkList. They have 142 files taking up 505kb, with date ranges from 1998 through 2006, any of which I can download, no further privs. This user, as well as many others, probably thinks they have no access and that these files are long gone. Especially when trying to bring up their old page. AOL’s redirect takes them right to the “Hometown Has Been Shutdown” message. Users that didn’t upload files to their space will of course show no personal files. The default in this case is about 5 subfolders, a .welcome file, and two text files. I’ll assume most members didn’t utilize this space, but many did.
    It saddens me thinking how many people think years and years of saving images and files are now lost when in-fact they are still there and available for download.
    Still researching the journal issue.


  7. Re: AOL Pictures transfer
    You know, you are awesome. I just downloaded FTP Commander and connected to a few AOL Hometown pages myself (not mentioning the names of them to prevent outrage among the owners of the pages I connected to) and sure enough, their files are still there – AOL did not delete them – just as you said…only downside is that I am not having the same luck with AOL Journals – but you never could connect to an AOL Journal through FTP, so that just stands to reason, I suppose. Good, good find on your part – thanks.


  8. Re: AOL Pictures transfer
    Glad I could help. And thank you for checking out my procedure for installing FTP Commander. Also for the correction you gave me on my page. 🙂
    I just hope word gets out quick enough before FTP access changes. No telling how long it will remain.


  9. Pingback: AOL closing down Xdrive, Bluestring and AOL Pictures by Dec. 31st. « Anti-AOL -An InTooLate Production

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