AOL closing down Xdrive, Bluestring and AOL Pictures by Dec. 31st.

Last updated 12-6-08 with new information on transferring Xdrive files to Elephant Drive.


This post does not change the fact that I’m currently on hiatus from blogging (update: I’m back as of 11-19), but people will stop believing me if AOL doesn’t stop dismantling their entire business.

As part of AOL’s previously mentioned restructuring plan, Xdrive, Bluestring and AOL Pictures will shut down by Dec. 31st.

Any files not removed from these services by Dec. 31st will be deleted, and all links and special online tools (called “APIs”) for displaying them will become unusable.

Here is a reprinted AOL FAQ from the Washington Post that explains what’s going on.

What to do?

Step 1: Download and Transfer Your AOL Pictures

  1. Use AOL’s steps to automatically transfer your pictures to American Greetings’ PhotoWorks website for free. This is an extended FAQ from AOL which explains two more ways to save your AOL Pictures (by downloading them to your computer, or by ordering a DVD).
  2. Use Joe Manna’s page to get screen shots and easy instructions on how to download your pictures from AOL as a single .zip file. A .zip file uses a special compression technique to make the size of the file very small. Unzipping the file returns your pictures to their full-sized glory.
  3. How to work with a “zipped” file: Windows has a built-in .zip program which will unzip (that is, “decompress”) the file into the folder of your choice. There are also many free, high-quality .zip programs out there to choose from. Joe suggests 7-zip. I suggest IZarc (since it works flawlessly with Firefox – my favorite web browser). Both programs are fast, easy to use, more fully-featured than the Windows .zip program is, and support many compression formats that Windows does not recognize.
  4. Use my steps to save your pictures to your computer and/or transfer them (but not automatically) to Photobucket.

Both the American Greetings picture service and Photobucket offer you, as far as I know, completely unlimited photo storage space for free. You can also transfer your pictures (but not automatically) to Flickr.

Step 2: Download and Transfer Your Xdrive and Bluestring Files

AOL’s directions for downloading your Xdrive files are in the above-linked FAQ. To quote from it briefly:

Q. What options do users have for retrieving files?

A. BlueString uses the Xdrive online storage service to store photos, videos and music uploaded through BlueString, so both BlueString and Xdrive users need to visit the Xdrive site to retrieve their files, and log in using an Xdrive or BlueString user ID and password.

Once there, users have several options and tools for retrieving files.

  • Create a single .zip file, containing all of the files in the Xdrive account, which can then be downloaded to a computer;
  • Purchase an archive of files on DVD;
  • Download files through the standard Xdrive Web and Desktop Clients.

Step-by-step instructions on how to take any of the above actions will be provided on and AOL will also list a number of online storage services that provide similar functionality.

Good services to move your Xdrive files to are Adrive, SkyDrive, and

Step 3: Use Special Offers For Xdrive Users from, and Elephant Drive

  1. Use your Xdrive “coupon code” on’s special web page, set up just for Xdrive users, to automatically transfer your Xdrive files and get 1 GB of free storage space.
  2. Use’s special web page, set up just for Xdrive users, to automatically transfer your Xdrive files and get 1 GB of free storage space, or you can sign up under a free trial agreement for more space (which you will pay for in the future).
  3. Use Elephant Drive’s special web page, set up just for Xdrive users, to automatically transfer your Xdrive files and get 5 GB of free storage space, or you can sign up under a free trial agreement for more space (which you will pay Elephant Drive for in the future).

Step 3a: Do you have a special offer for AOL users? Let us know! My email address is in the sidebar on your right – please use it – or leave a comment with your website’s address and special offer below.

As more special offers for AOL Pictures, Bluestring and Xdrive users become available I will add them to the above list. If you run a photo or file hosting service that is helping AOL and Xdrive users to transfer their data, please email me or let us know in the comments.

Step 4: Find Out How To Cancel Xdrive

The following instructions for canceling XDrive are reprinted (that is: “stolen”) from The Social Customer Manifesto (wow – I love that name). If the instructions are outdated and/or wrong please leave a comment so I can update this post as soon as possible.

Xdrive makes the cancellation as difficult as possible. So, here’s how to do it.

  1. Call Xdrive at 866.GO.XDRIVE (866.469.3748)
  2. Choose the “Billing” option from the phone tree
  3. Answer the myriad questions that the customer service rep will have for you

Make sure you ask for the following pieces of information for your own records:

a) Your cancellation confirmation number (this is a 9 digit number)
b) The agent’s “headset number” (my agent was #:14320)
c) Also, record the time of the call (mine was about 10:35am PDT on 26May2007)

At this point, the account should be canceled.

Step 5: Check Your Xdrive Account Records Carefully

All Xdrive users will get pro-rated billing through the end of this year and will stop being billed by AOL for Xdrive by Dec. 5th. If you continue to be billed by AOL for Xdrive after Dec. 5th find out how to file a complaint to get your money back.

Unfortunately, I do not maintain accounts on AOL Pictures, Bluestring, or Xdrive, so I’m unable to assist anyone with personal photo and/or file transfers. As always, thanks for reading – and remember to get all of your files off of the above-mentioned AOL-owned websites by Dec. 31st or your files and photos will be deleted.

Which begs the question: does AOL have an obsession with ruining the holidays or what? They do Christmas layoffs every year; they are closing AOL Journals and Hometowns on Halloween, and have now ruined New Year’s Eve for remaining customers.

Does the inconvenience of it all bother you too much to continue to use AOL? I don’t blame you, so find out how to cancel AOL and how to uninstall it.