The most frequent questions I get are: “How do I find, save, and import my AOL email and Address Book?” I think the reason I keep getting such questions – in spite of my Email FAQS – is that this blog has lacked (until now) a quick overview of all your options.
I never needed to save or export AOL email when I was still a subscriber or even once I canceled AOL, so just thinking about answering these questions makes me nervous. That said, I’ll do my best to gather every possible answer here. This will probably be the last time I do this, so please, no more emails about AOL email….thanks. 🙂
Before you read this, it’s important to know that you don’t need AOL software or any software to get your AOL email. Once you cancel AOL and remove AOL from your computer, just sign in at http://aol.com/ to read and write your email. AOL mail is free and yours to keep, forever, even once you cancel AOL.
The web version of AOL mail does everything the desktop version does: it saves hard copies of email to your PC, it allows you to read and reply to your email using rich or plain text formats, and it stores an unlimited amount of your email.
How do I save or back up my AOL email?
When you remove AOL from your computer, a Saved PFC folder is created on your Windows Desktop, or you can follow the steps here to make a copy of it before you remove AOL. You will need the Saved PFC folder to do anything with your old AOL mail, so make sure you have it, or else make a copy of it before you get started.
To find your Saved PFC folder: in Windows Vista or Windows 7, right-click your Taskbar and click Show The Desktop; in XP, quit or reduce your other open windows to view your Desktop. If there is no shortcut for AOL Saved PFC on your Desktop, right-click the Desktop, click View, then click Show Desktop Icons. The folder AOL saved for you will always be marked Saved PFC.
What do I do with the Saved PFC folder?
You can’t do much with the Saved PFC folder unless you use another copy of AOL to import its contents (here’s how). You can also import AOL “Saved to My PC” email to another copy of AOL using these steps.
You can also use a program like ePreserver ($24.95) to import your AOL mail and your Address Book into another mail program like Outlook or GMail, but you must have the Saved PFC folder on your computer to do this. Read how to make sure you have a copy of it here. ePreserver will also help you import your AOL Favorites into the web browser of your choice.
ePreserver costs money…is there a free version of it?
There is no free version of ePreserver, nor is there anything else that matches its features and effectiveness. You can try AOL Sync, but I haven’t heard much about it; it may work for you. While there are ways to cobble your AOL mail into another program for free, they involve some work and know-how on your part, and they might not find and move your old AOL email.
Your best bet is to save yourself the huge headache of possibly corrupting or deleting your PFC files, not being able to import or read your old email, and losing years worth of email that is extremely valuable to you, and just use ePreserver. Using ePreserver is your best bet for making a smooth and permanent transition away from AOL.
Is there any program like ePreserver that’s just as good?
If you’re not up to trying ePreserver or AOLSync, you can check into another program called TrueSwitch for AOL Users ($19.95). I can’t personally vouch for ePreserver, AOLSync, or TrueSwitch, but my readers have reported they’ve had good luck with ePreserver (they haven’t said much about TrueSwitch or AOLSync at all).
What if my AOL Address Book is all I’m after? How do I get it?
How else can I move my AOL email?
What follows are do-it-yourself methods for importing your AOL email into another mail program or web mail service. Since there are a few ways to do this, again, it is important to make sure you have a copy of your Saved PFC folder, in case you need it to import old, archived AOL email.
How to Move Your AOL Email into Nearly Any Program or Web Mail Service
About.com has more tutorials on moving your AOL email than I have pages on this blog. Start with this page: AOL Email Tips, Tricks, and Secrets, continue on to Accessing AOL Mail in an Email Program, Mobile Device or Email Service, then finish up with How to Access an AOL Email Account with any POP or IMAP Email Program.
Decide which email program or web mail service you want to import your AOL email into and click the link for the how-to that best matches it (there might be more than one to choose from). The tutorials and how-tos you’ll find on About.com are thorough, walking you through each step so you won’t get lost or worry about messing up.
Using an Email Collector Like Pop Peeper To Fetch AOL Email
Pop Peeper is a free email notifier with limited reply and email formatting capabilities. It can import AOL email that still sits on AOL’s servers and lets you send and receive email from your AOL account. How to set it up to work with AOL is explained here.
But watch Pop Peeper for this…
While I used to love Pop Peeper (this was back when I had so much email I couldn’t keep up with it), I’m not too fond of it now, since on many email servers it will mark messages “read” after downloading them but before you read them, and using it can get you temporarily banned from Yahoo Mail, since Pop Peeper polls your email servers every ten minutes (or whatever poll time you pre-select), which Yahoo! seems to flag as “suspicious activity”. Use it for AOL mail, but for anything more complicated or risky than that, don’t.
This article is hardly all-inclusive, so….
I’m sorry that I can’t answer more questions on the topic of finding, saving, or rescuing your lost AOL email, but that is about the extent of my knowledge on the topic.
If you know of more ways to save, import or export AOL email, Address Books, or Favorites, there are people reading this blog who would love to have that information, so please leave a comment or email me. You can find my email address under the Write to Me heading in the sidebar.