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How do I set up AOL email?

How to set up an AOL email on your computer

It takes just a few minutes to set up AOL email on your computer. All that’s required is an email program (also known as an email client) and you probably have one installed on your system already! So what are the benefits? Plenty!

Firstly, you can download AOL email and store it right on your computer. This means, the messages will be available even without an internet connection – for instance, when you take a hike on Mount Everest with the laptop!

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Secondly, you will be able to maintain two copies of the emails – one on the AOL server and the other on locally. So if you were to upgrade to a new computer, you won’t have to worry about copying data from the old machine because you can download it all over again from the server. And you don’t have to fret over losing important communication.

Thirdly, most, if not all, popular email clients let you set up several email addresses which means people with multiple accounts can collate messages and check them from one place – a big time saver. For more, refer the advantages of email programs like Outlook Express.

AOL set up using POP3 or IMAP

All free AOL email accounts can be set up using either POP3 (Post Office Protocol) or IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). These email protocols are technologies that let email programs connect to the server (a computer connected to the internet 24/7/365) and download messages to the local machine. Should you use POP or IMAP? This depends entirely on you… here are a few suggestions.

Use POP3 (Post Office Protocol) if you want to preserve a copy on the server. Since AOL email accounts now come with unlimited storage space, nothing can be more convenient. However, there is a downside to POP3. When it’s employed to access an online email account from two or more computers / devices (read AOL email on iPhone), it’s virtually impossible to have the same set of emails (including sent messages) on all the machines. This is where IMAP comes into picture. This email protocol lets you synchronise all your computers/devices AND the AOL server.

Which email program can you use to set up AOL email?

Depending on the operating system running on the computer, you can choose a pre-installed option, download a free alternative, or better still, go for a full-fledged email program such as Outlook. Below is a quick reference table.

Operating system Email program
Windows XP Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird
Windows Vista Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird
Windows 7 Windows Live Mail or Thunderbird
Apple Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Entourage, Eudora
Linux / Unix Thunderbird, Evolution, KMail, Balsa

Once you’ve decided on the email program and the email protocol you want to use, get the AOL email incoming and outgoing server information. Below are links to articles that have detailed step by step instructions on how to set up AOL email on your computer.

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