I’m asking because one of my primary annoyances is not having an all-in-one browser/IM/email client to usher ex-AOL users to once they’re ready to quit AOL. For years I’ve wanted to be able to say to them, “There’s this program named X that works just like AOL does, with instant messaging, email, and browsing all in one client, but it runs on a more modern layout engine, loads more pages the right way than AOL or IE does, and it’s safer to use and more enjoyable than AOL.”
Outside of SeaMonkey, there is nothing on the market that I know of that can replace not just what AOL has, but the way AOL combines it all into one client. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to just use Firefox and say, Yahoo! webmail and/or Outlook if you like, and to keep an AIM or MSN client on the computer for chat, but for people who have used AOL forever and like having all three tools ready-to-go in one browser, having a replacement for that would make it much easier for them to move away from AOL.
All those tests I’ve written about doing to find the best software to remove AOL are finally done. Frankly, I’m a little surprised at the results.
Results: Just keep on using the same old programs to remove AOL.
You’d think I could do better than that, and I tried because I love how so many of you want to find the best ways to remove AOL, but I couldn’t come up with anything niftier than my current methods (well, I did find one Honorable Mention) – blame it on lack of better technology.
I’ve had it with AOL’s software. Before anyone at AOL gets too warm and fuzzy that I noted recent improvements to how the software uninstalls, keep in mind I only download and install AOL to test it for people who want to get rid of it. That’s a lot of people: my most enduring tutorial for removing AOL has seen roughly 10,000 unique visits. For comparison, the site’s had over
100,000 (should’ve checked my stats first!) 136,000 uniques, but at least 60,000 of those were from Digg, so you can do the math yourself and see one sixth of regular (non-Digg) visits are to a page on how to uninstall AOL.
AOL 9.0 SE, the product that uses 2 processes that can’t be shut down unless you use Hijack This or blow your computer up, is back on my computer again. I can’t get enough of how badly AOL screwed this up. My processor is three times as fast as the one I had when I started writing this blog in 2005, my hard drive is three times as large, and my computer has four times as much memory, yet AOL still slows it down; other programs crash and the computer is unusable for anything except surfing.
Firefox has crashed twice since I installed AOL 9.0 SE a few days ago. POP Peeper, which I’ve used for about a year to collect email, also crashed twice. Now I can count in seconds how long it takes to launch an Explorer Window. They opened so fast before I installed this version of AOL, there was no waiting.
Here I am. I’ve put AOL 9.0 SE on a clean install of XP, on a much more powerful computer than I’ve ever had before, and it’s still killing it.
On AOL’s new 9.0 VR Help page, they tell you not to upgrade to AOL 9.0 VR because both programs are “the same.” Look at this crap:
Edited 02-20-2007 and 05-15-2007.
Recently I did a few drive-by reviews of Videos at AOL.com and Stage6, a new video site I learned about on Digg, and the differences between the “file-sharing” sites are staggering. All they have in common is free videos with some for sale at various prices; the only advantage AOL has over Stage6 is that sometimes they have more to choose from.
Edited 2-03-2007 and 5-19-2007.
Everyone’s talking about how “AOL is in the iPod business now.” AOL unveiled this hideous mp3-playing monstrosity at the CES show in LA like it was the cure for cancer. It got people murmuring about “how much AOL has changed” and “how innovative” they are and whether or not this shiny piece of crap will be “the next iPod killer,” inspired ooohs and ahhs from the tech community and made Steve Job’s cadre of devotees have fatal heart attacks. Time to sort out the truth from the bullshit so you can discuss the “killer player” without giving AOL credit that they don’t deserve, which might make me have a fatal heart attack. Don’t make me have a fatal heart attack…I’m only 35.
Also see How to Uninstall AOL.
After I ran tests a month or so ago, I concluded neither Mr. Tech’s AOL Cleaner nor the PC De-Crapifier do a good job of removing files, folders, and registry entries when they uninstall AOL, but I did my tests on a PC with 9.0, OpenRide, AOL’s Safety and Security Center and Security Monitor installed — more crap than either could handle, and didn’t test them until I’d already “uninstalled” AOL using AOL’s own uninstallers.
It hit me later that these tests weren’t good enough to base my results on, but neither cleaner did much better the second time around, so for the tech guys who deleted 2 podcasts about my uninstall and how-to cancel pages after I stopped recommending the PC De-Crapifier (update below), I’m hoping your site won’t be the last one to notice little ol’ mine.
Using AOL’s software is like giving your computer cancer. It uses hundreds of program files to change IE’s default settings, reconfigures your modem and dialer, installs Real Player and other unwanted programs, adds up to 1000 registry keys (sometimes more, depending on which version you use) and it sets itself as the default dialer so getting online with other dial-up ISPs is difficult, if not impossible.
AOL 9.0 SE keeps nine processes running at all times – even when you’re signed off. Other versions of AOL keep up to 5 processes running (including AOL 9.0 VR – which uses 4 processes to stay “always-on” and connected). AOL’s constant, intensive use of your computer’s resources slows it down and wears the hardware out before its time.