24th October 2007

as it turns out, it’s not hard to get e-mails and contacts out of AOL

posted by Eric C. in Uncategorized |

My parents have been using AOL since we put a 14.4k baud modem in our 386 running windows 3.1. So needless to say it’s been a while. They kept it because they didn’t want to deal with having to switch e-mail addresses and loosing all his e-mails inside AOL’s program. They’ve had DSL for at least a few years now, so they haven’t been using AOL for anything but e-mail for a while now. My dad’s been pissed for a while about how AOL tries to take over the whole computer installing whatever they want, popping up with upgrades that you can’t do anything but click “upgrade” on, running scans of lame anti-spyware that does nothing, etc. And even worse, he’s paying AOL for the privilage. Plus, even though he’s paying for it, there are ads in the interface! Anyway, he’s finally ready to switch and stop paying for AOL but they have 5+ years of e-mails “stuck” inside the AOL program. He also wasn’t looking forward to manually entering 50+ contacts into Outlook that already had contacts in AOL. Well, I did some looking and AOL has a program named “Sync” that is supposed to sync your contacts from AOL to Blackberry, Palm, Samsung and a beta for syncing with Palm. AOL’s page on it is http://aolsync.aol.com/. It looks like it doesn’t do anything for e-mails though and doesn’t say anything about Outlook. It does have a link under “Desktop/PDAs” that says “Sync your Address Book” but that brings you to http://www.plaxo.com/products which seems to only do contacts as well AND it seems to be part of some type of browser toolbar. Awesome just what I need, a random toolbar in IE or Firefox.

I then found ePreserver from Connected Software. I figured I’d give it a shot since it looked pretty straight forward, had a “30-day, 100% Money Back guarantee” and it was only $25 anyway. After registering I didn’t have to wait for a key via e-mail since it shows you right on the receipt page. I might suggest not getting the $3.99 “Extended Download Service” since I downloaded the demo/trial version and just plugged the key into that and it turned into the full version, meaning you should be able to just download the trial and make it the full version later as well. It was as straight forward as it looked on the webpage. After installing it, you just run it, plug in the registration info, pick which AOL screen name you want to export, choose a few settings, pick what you want to import them too (in my case Outlook 2003) and it does it’s thing. I didn’t even need to do anything to get it to show up in Outlook. I launched Outlook and it was all their. It automatically put the e-mails and contacts in the Outlook PST file, even made folders sorted like it was in AOL. I haven’t checked thoroughly but I did take a look and everything seems to be their. When I said above, the “choose a few settings” part, at one point you can change some settings on what it will import. I suggest setting it to at least “allow duplicates” under contacts/address book, since some versions of AOL make you create a new contact per e-mail address. I’m not sure how it would handle it if you had two contacts named the same thing with different e-mail addresses but I figured it’s easier too just do it manually than maybe not import some of the contacts. They have some screen shots of the process here.

I kind of would have liked a few more options, like if I wanted it to just make it’s own new PST file so I could import it into Outlook myself if I wanted too. For example, if you wanted to export one of the AOL accounts into outlook and put in a different computer’s Outlook or even a different profile on the same computer, you would have run the program and then export it from Outlook to a PST file manually. Kind of a pain but it’s doable.

Just to let everyone know, I’m not getting anything by linking them, we aren’t an affiliate or anything. I just figured I’d give everyone a heads up, since that’s part of why many people are keeping AOL because they don’t want to lose their info. I was glad it worked, since I’m building my parents a new computer, I didn’t want to have to install AOL so they could view old e-mails and hope it doesn’t break things (now or with a future “upgrade”).

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