AOL Mail is no longer a safe place to use email or to use as an OpenID endpoint – and that includes past and old accounts you may have. While AOL mail lost the majority of new email signups when they began requiring a real phone number for all free email accounts, now they have begun permanently deleting all accounts which have not been active over the last 180 days. If you have not logged into AOL mail recently, it may be too late.
We saw a need to make an entire article about this due to the urgency of this problem. If you have any OpenID which used AOL mail and you have not logged into AOL within the last 180 days, then not only will your account be deactivated as before with a requirement to login and reactivate; now, AOL will simply delete your whole account and all your data if you have not logged in within the last 180 days.
Here is a quote from their website:
After 180 days of no activity, your account will be permanently deactivated and any saved data will be deleted. Once this happens, there’s no way to retrieve this info and you will need to create a new account to continue using AOL Mail.
If you do not log in for 90 days, your account will deactivated which means any mail sent to it will bounce. You will not receive any mail to the account. If you do not log in for 180 days, then your account will be terminated and all emails, data, and information will be irreparably destroyed with no recourse and no way to recover your data. It will be gone forever.
Perhaps you were traveling out of the country for college and did not have access to your AOL email for a few months. Perhaps you have an old StackOverflow account which you used AOL Mail as an OpenID endpoint, and haven’t used it for awhile but wanted to do some more work on it or use it for your resume. Perhaps you got married or had a child, or some other life event that caused you to not log into your account for a little while.
Whatever the reason you didn’t log into your AOL account but still need your emails or data, unfortunately, AOL does not care and you are out of luck. AOL has deleted your account without recourse.
Now I have to go back and try to think of any other services that I may ever have signed up for using an AOL email or AOL OpenID within the past 10 to 15 years, to try to see if the accounts are lost forever or if I can recover them and change away from AOL before it is too late.
Because I was worried about gmail privacy concerns, I also had used an AOL account for lastpass, an old ebay account which I may want to use at some point in the future, a linkedin account, and a credit card and credit monitoring service.
Unfortunately when I moved this past year I had let an AOL account used for an OpenID signin go inactive, and now I have lost access to it forever. Years of StackOverflow data across many linked Stack sites is now lost forever because AOL has terminated my email account for no reason at all except that I did not log into their email service within the last 180 days.
If you were ever considering using AOL mail as a free email account or an OpenID endpoint to log into another service, be warned, it is not safe and you risk losing all your data if you are a normal human who has life events and happen to not log in for a relatively short time.
In that case, you can look forward to this golden nugget the next time you try to log in to access your account or try to use your AOL OpenID.
This account has been deactivated due to inactivity, but we would love to welcome you back! Click Sign up below to create your new account.
If they think users would trust them with another account after they violated your trust and obliterated your account and all data due to inactivity, they are completely delusional.
If you have any old AOL email accounts, whether used for past email or used for OpenID endpoints, we urge you to log in and get all your data if it is not already too late, or change over your OpenID to a safe service which will not cause you to lose your account forever.
You can download all your mails to another account by using IMAP or POP3 in your other email account and using your Aol signin. (IMAP or POP3 only works if your Aol account is still active.) If you have any OpenID AOL logins, be sure to change the account login to something other than AOL if it is not already too late.
180 days is completely unreasonable and AOL is the only service that I know of in the world with such an aggressive account deletion policy. For a services like email and OpenID which are often used infrequently, such a policy is absurd and outrageous.
This is a horrible company policy with reckless disregard for their customers. After doing some more research, these changes are probably due to the fact that Verizon bought AOL in 2015, which is around the time that AOL began demanding a phone number and aggressively deactivating accounts. It seems that Verizon is intentionally trying to gut AOL – or if not, they are horribly mismanaging the company. Goes to show what happens when an internet company is bought by a mindless behemoth.
Don’t let this happen to you! If it did happen to you, we are sorry and hope that you find a better and reliable email or OpenID service in the future. Feel free to share any horror stories with AOL services in the comments below!
18 thoughts on “AOL Mail Begins Permanently Deleting Accounts Not Used Regularly With No Way To Recover Your Emails Or Data”
Guess what? I believed aol when they said they would inactivate and then delete accounts within specified timeframes. Turns out, they NEVER even inactivated my account, never mind deleting it. I ended up having to go through several thousand emails, just in case there was anything important (which, fortunately, there wasn’t). So I guess if all you were getting in your aol account was garbage/spam, then that was OK with aol? Go figure!
I may lose access to a financial account due to this. I may have to get a lawyer to get at my account now. I will be contacting aol to see if the account can be activated for 2fa purposes. I don’t care about the prior lost account info. If not someone will be giving the lost funds.
seriously. let me join this as a co-defendant!! I need it for 2fa and not only did they delete my account – they also blocked the same username (which should now be available – right??) so I can’t even re-create i…which would solve my issue….
I bought new cell phone and my aol account deleted
My friend, I’m sorry but your account is gone if deleted. All you can do is contact AOL. There is no trick or other way. Your account is probably gone forever. You should try to contact them though just in case.
My mother passed away in 2012 and she made me my first email in the early 2000s. All of those accounts and emails are gone and I’ll never be able to get them back. I called aol for 3 years every year to check and see if anything changed. Nothing.
Aol used to be my favorite thing, but I will never use anything from them again.
My account of 25 years gone. My emails to my late father. The emails from my wife when we were dating.
My saved emails folder was like an electronic diary where i could go back to 1998 and see what my dad was doing.
Folks. Print those important emails. Cant trust your data will be stored.
How can I retrieve or get into my old AOL account? AOL has been my primary account since 1999. I tried logging in 2 days ago with my usual password and it says: “your password is too easy”. It suggested that I make it longer. I did. Bam! The 21-year old account was gone. All my messages gone. A new user name was established for me with this new password. I can’t access the old one. How can i get back to the old one
You can’t, sorry my friend. Your account is gone. 🙁
All you can do is try to contact AOL.
I had a My Singing Monsters account connected with an AOL account. I spent MONEY on this game. I didn’t log in and now I’m screwed. I can’t get a refund , can’t get into my account, and now I just don’t feel like starting the game over again from the bottom. This has completely screwed up any enjoyment of this game I had. Pissed to see this.
Well said John. Wow I can’t even believe this crap, it’s mind boggling! I have had a Yahoo account that I haven’t logged into in 6 years, and guess what AOL: my Yahoo account is still there and available with all my data for when I do log into the account.
Unfortunately, because I chose AOL, and used it as a recovery email for a Verizon email account as well for one of my Google accounts, I can no longer access my Google account either. So, not have I lost 1 or 2 accounts, I’ve lost 5. The reckless tactics are absolutely absurd and not consumer friendly in any way, shape, or form.
And the kicker of it all is which has already been mentioned, when they email you to say, “I’m going to give another reminder”, and after you’re notified, while trying to log in, you find that your account has already been “deactivated or deleted due to inactivity, you’re encouraged to sign up for another account” … ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???!!! WTH is wrong with this world really I can’t even begin to comprehend. Unbelievable.
IIRC, Gmail’s inactivity period is 9 months (but this is customizable in Google Inactive Account Manager), and Outlook/Hotmail’s inactivity period is a whopping 5 YEARS. (but your mailbox gets emptied and rejects messages after one year – if you log in during the remaining 4 years, your mailbox will start receiving messages again, but will be completely empty.)
iCloud/MobileMe’s inactivity period appears to be over 10 years, maybe even 15! People have reported very old accounts being deleted, but they hadn’t been logged in to for over a decade.
That is totally untrue, I have gmail accounts I have not logged into for 15 years (I set up forwarding), and the accounts are still active. Shouldn’t use gmail, as it’s a privacy risk, but the point remains.
I am currently an aol-mail user. My netscape.net e-mail address was transferred to aol-mail several years ago.
What e-mail service do you use, John?
You may have already mentioned this in your article but how would I be able to transfer all my saved e-mails to my new e-mail service?
Try Protonmail. You may not be able to transfer your mails, but you can forward them one-by-one. You can set up POP3 or IMAP in a gmail account to download them all, and then you can forward them, that’s another way.
Those 8 years in AOL and yahoo were great, back in outlook now.
I didn’t even know AOL still worked.
Lol. When gmail starting becoming dangerous for privacy, many turned to other free email as an alternative. AOL was one of these. Sadly, AOL broke their promises.
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