Message: Unable to connect to the AOL service

Text Size


Message: Unable to connect to the AOL service

We are really sorry you are having trouble connecting using the AOL software. Try the solutions listed below. After trying the first solution, check whether you can connect to the AOL service. If you continue to receive the error message, try the suggested solutions until the problem is fixed.

You may wish to print or save a copy of these instructions, as this page may not remain visible as you go through the suggested steps.

Information you need

You will need to know the version of the Microsoft Windows operating system installed on your computer. You can find this information by following the steps given in the online help article How do I determine the version of Windows I have?

You will also need to know the version of AOL Connectivity Service (ACS) installed on your computer before attempting the solutions given below. If you are using AOL 9.0 VR or higher, you have ACS 4 installed on your computer. If you are using AOL 9.0 Optimized, AOL 9.0 Optimized SE/LE, or AOL Security Edition, follow the instructions given in the online help article How do I determine the version of AOL Connectivity Service (ACS) I have?

Solutions


Select correct Connection

1. Start the AOL software, but do not sign on.

2. Click the Connection drop-down menu, and then click the connection method.

Note: For dial-up connections, the default location is Home. All broadband connection methods use Broadband as the default.

Back to Top


Check physical connections

1. Check whether the phone cord is unplugged from the back of the computer or wall jack.

2. Plug a telephone cord into the phone jack used by the modem, and then pick up the receiver to check for the dial tone. If there is no dial tone, please contact your local phone company.

3. Ensure that the phone line goes directly from the wall jack to the computer. Disconnect any splitters or answering machines that are connected to the phone line to ensure that these devices are not causing the issue.

4. Ensure that one end of the phone cord is plugged into the wall jack and the other end is plugged into the modem jack. The modem jack will either be labeled Line or be represented by a phone receiver.

5. If you are using an external modem, ensure that the power cord is plugged into a working wall jack.

6. Ensure that another member of the household is not using the home phone line.


Manually add a dial-up location or an access number

The access numbers that you use to connect to the AOL service may have changed or may be temporarily unavailable. Manually adding access phone numbers may help you resolve this issue, especially if you are traveling with your computer. The instructions to manually add access numbers may differ depending on the version of ACS on your computer. Please click the link corresponding to the version of ACS you have on your computer for instructions to add new access numbers.

Back to Top


Delete all connection locations and redetect the modem

Completely deleting the sign on locations and connectivity files removes not only bad access phone numbers but also dialing options and incorrect modem or broadband settings. The AOL software will automatically search for and select the right connection device, and guide you through the process of selecting appropriate access phone numbers and dialing options.

WARNING: You will incur charges on your phone bill if you select an AOL access phone number that is a long-distance call or is not covered by your local calling plan. Please check with your local phone company to determine whether the access phone numbers that you select are local for your calling plan. Remember that members on certain plans may be charged an hourly rate for dial-up connections. See AOL Keyword: My Account for details regarding the charges applicable to your account.

Please click the link corresponding to the version of ACS on your computer for instructions to delete the connection locations and redetect the modem.


Temporarily disable your firewall or configure McAfee

There may be a firewall or other security software on your computer that is preventing you from connecting to the AOL service. You can temporarily disable your firewall and check whether you are able to connect to the Internet. To learn how to disable the firewall, read our online help article Disable a firewall.

Back to Top


Disable SystemGuard using McAfee

SystemGuard may be blocking the AOL software from connecting to the AOL service. Disabling SystemGuard may help you resolve this issue. For instructions to disable SystemGuard, refer to the Disable SystemGuard section in the online help article SystemGuard in McAfee Internet Security Suite - Special edition from AOL.


Check the modem using Windows dialer

While troubleshooting connectivity issues, it is important to ensure that the modem is working properly. If the modem does not generate any output, you will need to contact the manufacturer of the modem for further assistance. The instructions to check the modem using the Windows dialer may differ depending on the version of Windows installed on your computer. Please click the appropriate link given below to check the modem using the Windows dialer.


Manually set up the modem

Some older models of the modem cannot be detected by the AOL software. If the AOL software is not able to detect the modem, you can manually enter the modem configuration. The online help article Manually set up the dial-up modem explains how you can configure your modem manually.

Back to Top


Configure Microsoft Internet Explorer to never dial a connection

If a program on your computer needs to access the Internet, then Internet Explorer may launch the AOL software in an effort to get online. This feature of Internet Explorer, if enabled, may cause the issue you are currently facing. For instructions on how to set Internet Explorer to never dial a connection, please read our online help article Configure Internet Explorer to never dial a connection.


Configure remote access settings

The Windows operating system contains remote access service files that are required for the AOL software to connect you to the Internet. If these files are not configured properly, they can cause the issue that you are currently experiencing. Follow the instructions given in the online help article Configure remote access settings to configure the remote access settings on your computer.


Uninstall and reinstall ACS

The AOL software uses ACS to connect to the AOL service. Uninstalling ACS will allow a fresh copy of the ACS files to be installed. Please click the appropriate link from the table below to know how to uninstall and reinstall ACS.

Operating System
ACS Version
Windows 7/Vista ACS 4 NA NA NA
Windows XP ACS 4 ACS 3 ACS 2 ACS 1
Windows 2000 ACS 4 ACS 3 ACS 2 ACS 1
Windows Me/98 ACS 4 ACS 3 ACS 2 ACS 1

Back to Top


Run Quick Restore

The Quick Restore feature allows you to reset the AOL software to the default state by deleting all updates downloaded in the past. It can help resolve issues that you may have with your AOL software without having to reinstall the software.

Once Quick Restore is completed, you will receive a series of AOL software updates. To learn more about AOL software updates, read our online help article AOL software update.

Please click the link corresponding to the version of ACS installed on your computer for instructions to run Quick Restore.

Note: If you are using AOL Desktop v10.1, skip to the next solution.

Back to Top


Repair the network stack list using NetShell

Note: If you are using Windows 98/Me, follow the instructions given in the online help article How to run WebUtil.

One of the components of the Internet connection on your computer is a built-in set of instructions called TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). TCP/IP can sometimes become damaged or corrupted. If you can't access websites in spite of trying all the above-mentioned solutions, we suspect TCP/IP to be the cause of the issue.

TCP/IP is a core component of Windows. Therefore, you cannot remove the TCP/IP stack. However, you can reset TCP/IP to its original state by using the NetShell utility (netsh).

Click the link corresponding to the version of Windows installed on your computer to know how to repair the network stack.


Uninstall and reinstall the AOL software

If the issue persists, we recommend that you uninstall and reinstall the AOL software. Uninstalling the AOL software removes all damaged and non-repairable files, and reinstalling the software installs new, error-free files.

Please click the link corresponding to the version of Windows on your computer for instructions to uninstall the AOL software.


Contact your computer manufacturer

We have determined that the issue is not caused by the AOL software. We recommend that you contact your computer manufacturer, or if your computer is no longer under warranty, a local computer repair shop or technician, for further assistance. Let the computer manufacturer/technician know about the issue. AOL uses many programs to deliver content to your computer, and these programs should function efficiently. All software programs are highly dependent on the computer's operating system and other applications to work properly. It appears that one of the following programs/applications may be the cause of the issue.

  • The computer operating system
  • Several media players
  • Many text editors and text viewers
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer and other Web browsers

Back to Top





About this article:
Last updated: 08-11-2011
© 2010 AOL Inc.