Creating an AOL Install CD… (if you must:)

Dial-up internet connections are often the only option that many people in rural areas have available; coupled with the fact, in many cases, there are no “local” dial-up internet service providers available and the user has to rely on a national provider (such as AOL).

I recently had a friend of mine, who lives where ticks are as prevalent as cats in the city, whose only option was a dial-up or satellite connection. He had just purchased a computer and he wanted to stay with the provider he had for years. In this case it was AOL (America Online). The dilemma which he faced was that he could not locate any AOL install CDs anywhere. I could not believe my ears. The AOL install CDs, in the early “dialup” internet years would arrive at my doorstep by the bushels.

It was at this point, I offered to help and told him I would download the installation off the internet, via broadband, thinking AOL had that option available. This in itself is where this became quite interesting. You can download an install file (aoldnld.exe), which is a small download; BUT, once you execute the file you need an internet connection to pull down the actual AOL installation and that process by itself you have no control over, except to cancel the install.  After further querying the internet for a solution, I found that people are actually selling AOL install CD’s (mostly older versions); and furthermore I could not locate any valid solution to this problem other than going through the AOL site to order the CD. 

AOL - Download

Due to what I am now seeing as a demand out there for AOL install cd’s, Here is what I did to create a AOL 9.0 Install CD and it worked for me…  It is preferable to use a broadband connection and someone with good computer navigation skills to make this as painless as possible.

  1. Go to the AOL site and look for the AOL Download.  At the time of this writing, I located it here:
  2. Click on “Download Now”; which will initiate the download of the “aoldnld.exe” file, that I mentioned earlier.  Save the file to a folder.
  3. Go to the folder and execute the “aoldnld.exe” file and a progress indicator will appear on the screen.
  4. Once the progress indicator reaches 100 %, the “Install AOL 9.0VR” dialog box (which is an end user agreement) will appear on the screen.
  5. At this point, click “CANCEL”, “EXIT SETUP”, then “EXIT”.
  6. Search the computer for a folder named “waol”.  Open the “waol” folder and you will see a subfolder with numbers. In my case the subfolder was named “0.4327.165.1”.  These numbers will vary.  Open the subfolder.
  7. The contents of this folder is what you need for an installation (which you can burn to a cd or copy to a flash drive). –  (see screenshot)
  8. The executable file, in this case, to initiate the installation is “waol-0.4327.165.1” (see screenshot).  Again, the filename will be “waol” with a string of numbers.
  9. During the installation it will detect what type of connection you have (i.e. cable, dsl, dialup) or you can manually modify the settings for the dial-up number.

AOL - Screenshot

The installation of AOL took approximately 5 minutes (or more) on my test pc…  Needless to say, like past AOL installs I’ve worked with, it made numerous changes to my test PC.

Would I install and use AOL on my PC, if I had to?  I’m not going to answer that one.  Just ask any tech out there and you’ll get the answer.



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40 thoughts on “Creating an AOL Install CD… (if you must:)

Add yours

  1. I am a tech, and I have spoken to many users and looked at lots of machines. Each one is different (machine setups and users).

    And I have been around computing long enough to well-remember that period when AOL CDs came glued to practically every piece of mail, the new phone book, etc.. (I used mine for target practice.) I’m sure I have at least a half-dozen laying at the back of drawers..

    I can tell you that AOL has done much recently to attempt to shed its reputation, and that it has improved.
    For instance.. I think they’ve stopped selling your info to any bidder..

    That said.. there’s a reason hackers and cybercriminals love AOL user lists: as a group, they’re the least savvy of all computer users. Also, the most prone to be running obsolete software on obsolete computers.
    Easy pickin’s.


  2. TechPaul,

    Your analysis of AOL and the user group, (based on your Tech experience), I strongly concur with. The deeper I got into this, the more shocked I was to see that there is an obvious market out there for AOL install disks AND that the barrage of AOL disks over the years has had a brainwashing affect on many people.

    Folks, the last paragraph of this article; you got your answer!



  3. I have been with AOL for better than six years. I have contacted AOL five times in the last two months and as1ked them to send me a AOL 9.1 installation disk. They still haven’t sent it. Last time I talked to them they said two disks were ordered fo me and I hanen’t received them yet. I don’t know what there problem is they are such a large company.


    1. Jerry,

      First, for that reason and others, I am not an advocate of AOL… AOL has been doing some ongoing restructuring and there may be a whole lot more going on behind the scenes. One thing to keep in mind, AOL software is just software; and the internet is the internet. How you get to the internet, whether it be with the AOL software or some other way; the internet is the same. Many people have the illusion they have to have AOL software… As a matter of fact, for an example… I can go to the AOL website and create an AOL username to use their email and messenger and I do not have AOL software on my PC…

      Thank you for the supportive comments you made. You are a living example of the point I was trying to get across.



  4. Thanks for posting this guide. The “if you must” made me laugh. I’m making a CD for a friend in a satellite-or-extremely-slow-dialup area and needed it.


    1. Amber,

      I am glad the guide (or workaround) to getting (making) the AOL CD is still working for people. I am not an advocate for AOL, but there are people like your friend that may have no choice other than to go with their dial-up service… Actually that type of situation is what prompted me to find a workaround to making the AOL Install CD in the first place… Believe it or not, this AOL CD article has been a topper on my blog (unbelievable). Thanks for posting and drop by again!



  5. Hey Rick,

    Thanks for the great guide. My brother is visiting for a couple of weeks, and just bought a new laptop. It has built-in wireless, but he’s staying at Mom’s house who doesn’t even have a computer, and most of the neighbors are a little elderly, so he had no choice but to go to Best Buy and get a USB dial-up modem. After repeatedy calling AOL for help (no good there), I told him I would run home and burn him an AOL disc with my high speed connection. As you did, I wanted to ‘save’ the exe to my machine, then burn it. After some research I came upon your guide. You saved his vacation… he would have been lost without access to the internet… he thought about camping out at Starbucks…. Thanks for the tip!!


    1. Dennis,

      You are very welcome. I cannot understand “why” AOL is not providing an alternative to this issue; UNLESS, it is their ultimate intentions of getting out of the business of being an ISP.

      Thank you,



  6. Interesting that AOL wants to lose business.Thanks for making it possible for my Mom to once again have Internet service


  7. I just bought my sister a new computer,and she lives in such a rural area their only option is dialup…but they love AOL and the application I downloaded to their new computer from my broadband connection still required the internet to install…argh! Then I happened to run across an unprotected high speed router with my laptop and ran across you guide. I have gotten the file I need to transfer to their computer. So tomorrow we will find out if it works.



    1. Sharron,

      I know what you mean about living “in such a rural area”. My parents are in a similar situation. Dialup where they are is even slow… Good luck with this and I hope it helps.



  8. Thank you so much! I was about ready to give up on AOL. We just got a new computer for my 97 year-old great-grandmother. I don’t know what she would have done without her e-mail and online news while we waited for AOL to repent of its evil ways and actually be helpful. You’ve made her month (and mine too)!



  9. Thank you so much for the instructions on how to do this. I have a friend who is house bound and only uses AOL Dial-up. Her PC crashed and had to be restored. I could not get over there quick enough to ‘kidnap’ the pc and take it to somewhere that has high speed so I thought I should be able to find an 800 number for AOL for her to use and install the software – ummm wrong.

    Oh, my fav thing to do with old AOL cd’s – where I work we wallpapered the Telecom guy’s office with them. Think staple guns and hundres of CD’s. Best use of them ever!


  10. Thanks for the great tip!! It took a few mins to find that waol folder, but here is where it placed mines (windows vista) C:\ProgramData\AOL Downloads\waol.4334.34.14\


    1. Sherman,

      Thanks for sharing that info… Will be helpful to others. This article gains ground everyday. It amazes me how many people are still using AOL. I’m thinking the majority is dial-up users.



  11. This is great, thank you! I needed this to update my 80 year old father-in-law’s new computer. This is where I found the files on my computer.

    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\AOL Downloads


  12. OK, I’m confused. I follow the guide to making an AOL CD
    but reading further, it appears that you have also made a generic dial-up client. But I can not find a link/reference as to where this file is located. (or am I reading too much into some of the feedback comments)


    1. Knowmyway,

      You are reading into the comments too much… It was sometime I drafted that article and apparently the steps I took do still work. Basically it is steps to get you online with AOL (via dialup).



  13. my father just got a new computer and is married to his aol dial up. They are up to aol 9.5. If you start the install process after downloading everything they give you an opportunity to stop the install procedure and if you exit then they will provide you with a “retry aol 9.5” desktop icon. Looking at that shortcut I see the folder name is waol_single_4337.185.4.1. I will copy all the contents of that folder to a memory stick and install it on dad’s computer tomorrow.


    1. Max,

      Thanks for the update on this. My article here has received thousands of hits on creating an AOL Install. Your additional information will bring things up to speed and let people know that it is still possible to do this by following the instructions in the article.




  14. Thanks for the post Rick. I’m taking a trip out into the middle of Nowhere While I’m there, I’m going to try to get my parent’s computer back online. Your post made it easy for me and saved me some time. Thanks again!


  15. I have discovered a simpler way to do this:

    Download self-extracting zip exe files for AOL 9.0, 9.1, 9.5, and/or 10.0 (Desktop) from

    Run the self-extractor, extracting the files to any directory of your choice.

    Burn the contents of the directory to a CD.

    These will be exactly like the original AOL CDs, with an autorun file and a setup.exe, instead of the oddly-named waol-0.4327.165.1.exe and such in the online installer versions.


  16. Thank you – thank you – My Dad has been an AOL user and like others above wanted to AOL on his new desktop. I have burned two 9.7 installation CD and called AOL to request the official CD. Your instructions were a great find.


      1. The only missing step I came across and this is probably obvious everyone but me, is that I had to copy the contents of the CD to the PC before I could get the installation to run, I was installing AOL on a Windows 7 desktop using “Run as Administrator” and could not get it to launch from the CD. It would start the installation process but stop at the “launch the installation” step. Once I the copy the folder containing the “woal” executable file to the User’s download folder and started the installation from there it ran without a hitch. But that issue was trivial compared to figure out that the AOL’s instructions to make an installation CD do not produce a usable CD.


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