AOL Questions

Two questions for AOL users.

  1. AOL 5.0 seems to suck rather badly. Every time I bring AOL up, it takes about a minute while “AOL Database is being updated”. What exactly is it doing? And why did AOL think that this was a good idea for my computer to do every time I log on?

  2. How can I keep from getting kicked off when I am not doing anything? When I’m writing a message to this board, for example, some times the timer goes off, and I’m booted before I finish. I remember a thread a while ago that suggested that I put myself in a chat room, and that will tell the AOL software that I’m active, but that doesn’t work. Any other ideas?

Thanks. Maybe it’s time for me to go to one of the free ISP’s.


I must be the only one who hasn’t experienced problems with AOL 5.0. I loaded from one of those 3 zillion free CDs you see everywhere. I had a few incidents of updating, but that’s been months ago. As for the “shit or get off the pot” warning, I think AOL should allow the user to determine the amount of “down time”, say, no more than 30 minutes.

I have the same problem with being booted off for ‘inactivity’. There is something you can download to keep that from happening, but I don’t remember what it was.

I heard too much about 5.0 to upgrade, but on 4.0 you could type “quickmenu” in the address bar/whatever and this small news ticker would pop up. From that point on I never had a problem. I found it by calling cs and bitching that I was about to cancel my service unless they figured out a way. So if quickmenu does not work for you, give them a call. Good luck.


I do the “quick menu” thing also. Just minimize the little window that comes up and you’re fine. I had a program to keep from getting booted, but it didn’t work in 5.0.

I also got 5.0 from a free disk and have had no problems.
Call and complain and they are usually pretty quick to offer a free month or two as compensation.

I had entirely too many problems with 5.0–it just seemed buggy. So, when I got my new computer, I stuck with 4.0. No real problems since.

I also connect to AOL via Earthlink. Since I bring my own service, I never get the “You have remained idle…” notice. I always hated that damn thing.

Earthlink has something similar, but I think it’s only in effect during heavier traffic hours. Last week, I signed on to check The Thoroughbred Times–and forgot to sign off when I went to church. When I came home, four hours later, I was still online–with an IM of sympathy from Shayna up and ending with “Are you there?” WHOOPS!

“Every time I bring AOL up, it takes about a minute while “AOL Database is being updated”. What exactly is it doing?”

It’s implanting more of those damned pop-up advertisement windows, that’s what it’s doing.

You have to “opt out” of this advertising. From “My AOL” menu select “Preferences” and then “Marketing.” You get a bunch of dialog boxes where you can “opt out” of several types of advertising. It takes muchos clicks to banish all the unwanted ads. Then you should be free of those “updates.” Sometimes they may cancel your “opt out” selections, and you’ll have to go through that all over again. You have been warned.

If you run AOLIM or ICQ, “the inactive for x minutes you will be kicked off” thing will go away.

Another questiong - sites keep telling me to use Alt+Refresh or Ctrl+Refresh to update the page…but my Gateway keyboard does not have a Refresh button. Anyone have any suggestions?

I don’t know about the AOL browser (I believe it’s just IE with a different interface), but that stuff about Alt-Refresh is probably actually Shift-Refresh. In Netscape (and IE too, I think, but I don’t use IE) if you hold down the Shift key while you click on the Reload button it forces the browser to reload from the server rather than using a cached copy of the site.

I’ve got a question for you AOL users: How many of you have used a real ISP, and yet still choose to subscribe to AOL? And why?

I don’t have a reload button, either. Is SysRq the same thing?

As for why I use AOL…

It was my first, and I’ve played around a bit with free ISPs and wasn’t impressed. Likewise for MSN. I don’t know anyone with local ISPs so I haven’t played with them yet. And, since I don’t have cable I haven’t yet been able to justify the expense the local cable/internet providers.

Why are so many people against AOL? It’s no worse or better than any other corporate behemoths that so many people frequent.

Sorry I am a bit busy so I do not know if anyone said this already and I do not have time to find a specific site, but search the net for AOL KILL TIMERS or AOL IDELBOTS. I am sure you will find many programs that will prevent the timer from bothering you…

No, I didn’t mean a “reload” key on the keyboard. I meant the reload button on the browser on screen. Surely even AOL provides that?

As to AOL being no worse than any other, that is flat out false. AOL has far more problems with being unable to connect, being kicked off, general spam, software restriction (AOL browser rather than one of your choice (yes, I know it’s possible to get around it, most AOLers don’t.)), and most of all: really high fees. “Free” ISPs and MSN are just as bad as AOL in terms of service, so I wasn’t counting them as “real” ISPs.

Now, take that with a grain of salt. I’ve never used AOL for an appreciable time myself, but I have known plenty of people who do, and they seem to experience more problems than people who use a “normal” ISP.

But this wasn’t intended to turn this an Anti-AOL thread. I was simply curious as to the motivations for using their service.

AOL 5.0 was released to the public BEFORE the beta testing ended. In fact, the beta testing for 5.0 ended ***two weeks ago ***. If you got AOL before then, you might want to go to keyword “5.0” to get the latest (and final) version. If you want, you can go to keyword “4.0” (or for that matter, keyword “3.0” for that version) and get that version if you don’t like 5.0.

Currently AOL is beta testing 6.0 and if all goes like normal, it will be released before it is finished too.

AOL has this. It’s in the upper left corner, under the “Mail Center” icon. There is a little gray box with the “back” and “forward” buttons, and right under the “M” in “Mail Center” is a curved arrow. That is the refresh button.

There’s a neat little proggie called StayOn Pro which pings random ISPs every couple of minutes to avoid getting booted.

Not sure if it works with 5.0, though.

thanks all. I’m confused about one thing… where do you type in “quick menu”?

I’ve tried changing my marketing preferences… I’ll see if that works.

AOL does suck. But inertia keeps me on it. <sigh>

OK… I figured out where to type “quick menu”. Thanks. I hope that helps.

The other problem still persists, however. Perhaps I didn’t explain clearly enough. When I double click the icon to launch AOL, the blue AOL box comes up in the middle of my screen, and at the bottom left hand corner of that screen, a message appears saying "Updating AOL Database (x%), where x is a number starting at 0 and ending at 100. This takes a variable amount of time, but I cannot sign on until after it runs its course.

I tried changing my marketing settings, as suggested, with no change. I also get a box when I sign off telling me that AOL is cleaning up files to increase my disk space. How do you stop THAT from happening?

AUGH! I hate 5.0!