Two Steps Forward, One Step Back - Now I can't open AOL

lynnalexandraAugust 19, 2008

My computer has been buggy since I accepted last Tuesdays Microsoft updates - but I'm not really sure why. I also began using firefox 3 over 2 weeks ago - but had no problems until installing the updates before the weekend.

Afterwards, it undid some of my settings - like setting up firefox to use AOL email to send email. I reset that (with the directions Ravencajun provided to me a couple of weeks ago). Now if I'm searching craigslist through Firefox, etc, and I want to send an email, it does us AOL to do so. BUT - now I cannot open AOL program itself. Before this weekend's updates, I could open AOL 9.1 directly - and do email through AOL's browser - or open AOL through the Firefox browser and use it that way. Now I cannot open the AOL software - whether I click the desktop icon, the taskbar icon, or go to programs, and doubleclick AOL. Nothing happens. And I need to access my email through the actual AOL program because it will search older emails that I cannot access when my AOL mail is opened through Firefox.

I hope I'm being clear. I've checked the Firewall and it is allowing AOL. AOL is listed as the default email program. I'm stumped (of course that happens a lot with the computer).

Any ideas how I can get my AOL software to work? And even why it might have stopped working?



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You say you can no longer get your AOL software to open.

Not sure what may have caused the problem but there's a few things you can try.

Go to Start/All programs and under America Online open 'AOL System Information'. Scroll down and under 'AOL Utilities' click the 'Rebuild' AOL Adapter. Before you do so save a copy of your AOL 'Personal Filing Cabinet' (Organize folder), see below.

If that doesn't work you can use 'system restore' to restore to a time when things were working properly.
If this fails, undo the restore and try uninstalling and reinstalling the AOL software.

Keep in mind if you do a system restore you may have to reinstall the Microsoft Updates, depending on what date you restore to. If you beleive the updates may have been the source of your problem, reinstall them one or two at a time and make sure things are still working properly after the updates. Also keep in mind that any programs you may have installed after the 'restore point you go back to' may not work properly.

You can uninstall and reinstall the AOL software through Control Panel/ Add or Remove programs.
Before you uninstall AOL however, make sure you save the AOL 'organize' folder, which contains all your AOL email and folders (Personal Filing Cabinet).
This can be found in your system partition, usually 'C:'/Documents and Settings/All Users/ Application Data/AOL/C_America Online 9.0/Organize.
Note: In Tools/Folder Options under the 'View' tab in 'Hidden Files and Folders' select 'Show hidden files and folders' must be selected to view Application Data.

Copy the 'Organize' folder and save it to your Desktop or place of your choosing.
After reinstalling the AOL software 'copy and paste' the contents of the 'organize' folder into the same folder of the new AOL installation.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 1:49AM
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Well - interesting results. I went to start - all programs, AOL and System Information Application. Once the System Information Application Screen opens up, I immediately get a message that says "System Information Application ahs encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience. If you were int he middle of something, the ifnormation youw ere working on might be lost. Please tell Microsoft about this problem."

At this point, I clicked Send Error Report. I did this once this morning - and the same again tonight. When I click on more information about the error report, it says Error Signature
AppName: sinf.exe AppVer: ModName: sysinfo.dll
ModVer: Offset: 00041fcd.

Then it says Exception Information
Code: 0xc0000005 Flags: 0x00000000
Record: 0x00000000000000000 Address: 0x0000000067701fcd

System Information
Windows NT 5.1 Build: 2600
CPU Vendor Code: 756e6547 - 49656E69 - 6c657346E

There's more than that, but that's the first 2/3 of it. I have no idea what is going on.

One more thing, in addition to asking me to click to send error report, should I also click where it says "debug?"

Also, Witz, I am so afraid to try to back up my critical AOL data - and potentially lose it.

I do wonder if this was related to the microsoft updates I accepted last Friday. Seems that's when the trouble started.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 10:16PM
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I use AOL and had no adverse effects from the recent MS updates, but then again no two system configurations are the same, so anything is possible.

If you can't get the 'AOL System Information' utility to open to rebuild the 'AOL adapter' the only thing I can suggest is either using 'system restore' to a time before you started having this problem or uninstalling and reinstalling 'AOL'.

The error report you're describing is way over my head.

"I do wonder if this was related to the microsoft updates I accepted last Friday. Seems that's when the trouble started."

One way to find out. If you're using WinXP go to Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/System Restore. Open System Restore and select 'Restore my computer to an earlier time' and select a date that you believe was before the date you started having the problem(s). If you can find one of the highlighted days that has an entry 'Software Distribution Service 3.0' that should be an automatic 'Windows Update' restore point. Highlight that entry and click 'next' and wait for confirmation that your computer has been restored to that date and time.

If that doesn't seem to help matters any you can go back into 'system restore','undo' your last restore, and then try an earlier restore point.

If that fails also, I would suggest that you uninstall/reinstall the AOL software.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 2:30AM
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Thank you Witz. I have never done system restore - every new thing on the computer causes apprehension - but I think I will have to do it.

There may have been an easier way to do this, but I just copied and pasted all the bookmarks I made this week - and emailed them to myself (I don't want to loose them and I don't know another way to do it - esp. if the system will restore to a previous point - I think that means that even if I backed up these bookmarks, the system would go to a point before the backups).

I do have a couple of more questions about system restore before I attempt it tonight. I ran superantispyware yesterday and found several spywares installed - will system restore restore those as well? In which case, I guess I should run superantispyware again? I also ran ccleaner right after the updates (I thought at first that that was the problem) - should I rerun that as well?

Also, I did not accept the SP3 - just the other 12 updates.

I still remain very frightened about rebuilding the AOL adapter and needing to back up my AOL data - but I do appreciate that you're given me the steps to do so. If system restore doesn't work, I guess that will be next.



    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 10:02AM
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Are you using 'Windows XP', 'Vista', or some other operating system?

You mentioned 'Superantispyware' removing "several spywares". Have you also run a full scan with your 'anti-virus' program? If not, update and run a full scan.

Something else I overlooked when I read your initial post, I see you're using AOL 9.1. I'm still using AOL 9.0 SE, so there may be some changes to the way things are done in 9.1 as far as repairing the software. I'm not even sure they have the same features in 9.1 so let's forget about 'rebuilding the AOL adapter' for now. Someone else using that version of AOL will have to jump in here.
If you have the 'AOL' icon down in the system tray (by the clock) you can right click that and see what options there are.

System Restore is painless and if you don't get the results you want you just 'undo' the restore. If you had any kind of virus or spyware infection and you restore to a time when your machine was infected, yes, it will restore those infections, but you can always run your anti-virus and anti-spyware applications again to remove them.
I can't say for certain whether or not 'system restore' will affect your bookmarks but it is always a good idea to back up anything on your computer that you cannot afford to lose or want the hastle of having to replace.
There can never be enough said about the importance of backing up important data!
I use Acronis True Image which makes an image of the complete hard drive, sector by sector, that will restore everything including operating system, programs, documents, pictures, data, etc. to the 'T'. This is on a second drive in my PC in case my primary drive should fail.
I also have an external hard drive where I back up 'My Documents'.

"I also ran ccleaner right after the updates (I thought at first that that was the problem) - should I rerun that as well?"
No, running CCleaner again is not going to fix the problem, nor do I see where CCleaner would have created your problem, unless by chance, if you also used the 'Registry' feature in CCleaner, it may have removed something. Anytime you use any kind of registry cleaner it should have the option of making a backup in case things go wrong, which is exactly why most cleaners, some don't, have the backup option. Either that or create a 'system restore' point before you use it.
Using a 'registry cleaner' is a hot topic. Some swear by them, others swear at them! I personally have use Macecraft 'Reg Supreme' for years with no ill effects.

"There may have been an easier way to do this, but I just copied and pasted all the bookmarks I made_____". There is:
Internet Explorer has an 'import/export' feature for transferring or backing up your cookies and favorites. Click on 'File' in the Menu bar at the top of the IE browser, select 'Import/Export', and follow the Wizard. You can save them to a file on your computer for retrieval later if you should need to do so using the same wizard. I made a folder called 'Backups' in the 'My Documents' folder where I store a copy of my 'cookies' and 'favorites'.
In Firefox, I'm still using version, if you go to 'Bookmarks' in the Menu bar and select 'Organize bookmarks' and click on 'File', you'll find an 'Import' and 'Export' wizard.

Drink some 'brave' juice and try the system restore first to see if that works.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 1:20PM
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Witz - you've been tremendously helpful. I love the idea of drinking some "brave" juice. I was all prepared to do that when I cam home tonight. But - I had turned off my computer before leaving this morning (mostly because I was tired of the babysitter surfing while she was babysitting my daughter - I figured she wouldn't have the audacity to turn the computer on if it was off - and she didn't).

Anyway, I turned it on - clicked on AOL again - and lo and behold - it works. I think some computer mysteries are never solved - just resolved.

But all your information about backing up is great -and I will get to that soon - backing my stuff up the proper way.

I don't find AOL 9.1 to be substantially different than 9.0 - not sure what the hang up was for the last few days.

I do have some further questions. If I made bookmark backups (or other backups) - and then did system restore to a time before those backups - wouldn't it undo the backups? That's one reason I chose to email them to myself.

I do not go anywhere near registry cleaners after what I've read here. Not that I begin to comprehend registries - but figure I'm better off steering clear of potential problems.

Is there any way to use Acronis true image if I don't have another hard drive in my computer? I do think getting a second external hard drive is a good idea. If I search these forums, I think even I could figure out how to use one.

Except to do further searches of my AOL email, I like going to AOL through Firefox - bc. I'm really enjoying Firefox and it's quicker. But there are a couple of features I miss from using AOL directly. Perhaps as a Firefox/AOL user, you know how to manage these. From within Firefox, I can reply to email - but I don't have a button (or see how) to do "reply all." Do you know if there's something I can do to set it up that way. I'm on a volunteer Board and we do a fair amount of emailing back and forth to everyone on the Board - but right now I can't figure out how to send an email to all - that is if I'm responding to an email from the Board.

I also don't see a way to access my AOL address book.

Last question (I promise) - is there a way to set up the AOL mail opened within Firefox to delete with a single click. Right now I have to check mark each email I want to delete - then hit delete. In AOL software, I can click the title of the email once and then hit delete. This may sound the same - but it's more effort to click in that little box than click anywhere on the email title to highlight it - and then hit delete. (I have no idea if I'm articulating these well.)

Thank you again for all your help.

I to stop my 9yo from getting on it

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 7:16PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

system restore will not delete or change your bookmarks.

what I do in firefox I go to bookmarks then organize bookmarks then export that will provide the bookmarks html file which is all the bookmarks then I save that file to my hard drive, I created a folder in my downloads called firefox backups I save the bookmarks.html file there, each one will have the date associated with it as to when it was created so it is easy to see which is the newest. I then send myself an email and attach a copy of that file, in my email account I have a folder there set up for backups, I store the email with the file in there. Since my email is hotmail an gmail and can be accessed by any computer anywhere should I ever need access to my back up files I can go to my email and get them. Gmail allows so much space now it is a good option for storing things.

you can use Acronis to back up to a cd or dvd, flash drive, or usb external drive or an internal drive. The best choice is an external drive.
There are now a couple of good free imaging programs out, I have Acronis myself.
If you choose to use cd or dvd you just have to make sure it can fit on there, a dvd will hold more and if you have a dual side burner that holds even more.

another good thing to backup in firefox is your profile. there are a few good addons that can backup your profile, bookmarks, history pretty much everything. FEBE is a good one.

I will let someone with AOL knowledge help you I have never touched anything AOL LOL.

for those interested free drive imaging software
DriveImage XML

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 8:57PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

if you have children using the pc or like you said your babysitter, this is a MUST. Set up a limited user account for anyone other than you to use. That way they can not do much damage by installing anything on the pc.

go to control panel, user accounts, create a limited user account or use the guest account. set up a password for your administrator account so no one but you can get into it but for goodness sakes keep that password somewhere safe where you can find it! Then when any one wants to use the pc log out of your account and log into the limited guest account and let them use it.
Setting Up a Limited User in Windows XP

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 9:17PM
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Thank you and your welcome.

I'm glad your problem resolved itself.

"Last question (I promise)":
Don't worry about asking questions. That's what these forums are for. There are many knowledgable people on this board who I'm sure, like me, enjoy helping others when they can. Fire away! My experience is limited, but with all of us working together there probably isn't much we can't figure out.

"Is there any way to use Acronis true image if I don't have another hard drive in my computer? I do think getting a second external hard drive is a good idea. If I search these forums, I think even I could figure out how to use one. "
Acronis can be used on the same drive that it is backing up, the only problem there is that if the drive 'crashes' you have no way to recover with the Acronis backup. You can pick up an external drive relatively cheap these days, the key word is 'relatively' LoL. For the most part all you have to do is plug them in and they're ready to go, 'dragging and dropping' or 'copying and pasting' files to them using Windows Explorer.

Sorry, can't help with Firefox/AOL email thing. I just use the AOL software to check my email, usually once in the morning and once at night. If I'm not checking on email I'll open Firefox for web browsing. At this time I believe it is a safer browser, but as its' popularity increases I think we'll begin to see more exploits.

Now that you have things up and running again, the first thing I would do would be to take ravens' advice and set up a password for your logon. Activate and use the 'guest account', a limited account, for all other users.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 12:48AM
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That is just great news about using a guest account for other users. I didnt' know such a thing was possible. I will do that - although it's not the next thing on my list (given that my bored babysitter is now done being here full days since my daughter will be back in school on Monday). Getting a new babysitter is a priority (since her reigning boredom and lack of effort really depressed my daughter and angered me these last few weeks).

I have been bookmarking all the wonderful threads and information here and will systematically get to them. Hey - in one month, I've already started using Firefox, set my updates to notify me before installing, downloaded, used and understood ccleaner, superantivirus, and secunia. Updated the software on my computer and my daughter's. Learned a ton about what i could do through the control panel. Began learning about right and middle clicks - and opening webpages in a new tab in Firefox. Learned what addons are and even got some. And learned a bit about what to look for in my next laptop and how to search for good deals (and how to test out a used one if I go that route). And I've gotten Tivo, uploaded recorded programs to my computer, converted them to ipod-compatible format and loaded disney shows on my daughter's ipod. And more)

Whew! You guys are great - and responsible for all but that last one. Looking back, it's more like two steps forward, one step back, five steps forward. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 11:23PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

clapping my hands for you lynn that is just the kind of thing I love to hear! Each one of us had to learn some how and the fact that you are making these efforts is excellent and will pay off for you in the long run.
I started out the same way and just kept after it determined to learn as much as possible even if I have this old brain I can teach it new tricks! Having good people to help along the way is a blessing, I know this because I had some super people help me get to this point, now I just try to pay it forward. (while I keep trying to shove more info into my brain LOL)

Share the knowledge it is powerful!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 1:46PM
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