Understanding AOL

It's a question I get asked all the time: What's the difference between AOL and the Internet? It's a good question, too. The truth is that by using AOL, you get everything that the Internet has to offer, plus content that is only available to AOL members . After all, you can get to the Internet using AOL and browse any site in the world. Plus, you have access to AOL content: channels, chat rooms, email, instant messages, a calendar feature, forums, shopping, and so on.

AOL is a little pricier than many local ISPs would charge. But you do get more for the money, too.

Why Should I Choose AOL?

So the question then becomes, "Why should I choose AOL?" Here's a quick look at some of the top reasons:

  • People ” AOL's slogan , "20 million people can't be wrong," says it all. Many people you know (or many kids your children know) are using AOL. Joining gives you quick access to them through Instant Messenger, email, chat, and so on.

  • Ease ” AOL makes it simple. Getting the software is easy, as is logging on and setting up your account. After you've done that, your Internet access, email, and everything else is all ready to go for you. That's why tons of first-time Internet users gravitate toward AOL to get themselves online.

  • Content ” AOL's content is divided into 20 different areas of interest, which AOL calls Channels. Channel topics range from Women to Sports to Shopping to Personal Finance to Kids Only to Health to Games. Some are serious, some are just for fun, some offer a little of both. But they all are packed with content.

  • Worldwide access ” This one's often overlooked. AOL makes it easy to log on to someone else's computer somewhere else in the world and still get on to your account. This allows you to access your own email (you can also access from AOL's Web site) and do everything just as you would at home.

  • Multiple Users, One Account ” AOL allows up to seven screen names on one account. This means that you and your spouse, plus little Billy, Johnny, Pookie, Muffin, and The Beav can all have your own email accounts.

  • Parental Controls ” This is perhaps the biggest reason (along with "multiple users") that AOL is so popular with families. Although there are other ways to limit what your kids see on the Internet, AOL's Parental Controls allow you many options for setting what each child, based on age, can see. So, have 8-year-old Muffin's settings at a more restrictive level than 16-year-old Billy's and make sure Muffin doesn't know anyone else's password, and Muffin won't see any naughty stuff.

Why Shouldn't I Choose AOL?

This one's a little tougher, because AOL does have a lot to offer. Here's why some people stay away:

  • It's for Beginners ” Some "serious" Internet users, especially business people, don't want an @aol.com email address because they wrongly believe it is an indication they are novices. The truth is, a lot of these "serious" types have their business account and keep an AOL account as well for personal reasons, and for its worldwide access. However, do know that the perception that "AOL is for beginners" is very much alive , but AOL offers plenty for new and experienced users.

  • Email Compression ” AOL compresses automatically any emails that have multiple attachments. This can make them difficult to open and use for non-AOL members. Not a big problem, really, but something to consider if you send or receive lots of attachments.

  • Advertising ” Having a captive audience of 20 million does come with its drawbacks, including lots of advertising. Every time you sign on to AOL, you'll get a pop-up ad before you ever hear the friendly, "Welcome!" or the ubiquitous "You've Got Mail!" The ads, though, can be limited through your preferences.

  • Junk Mail ” If you're an AOL member, you're going to get a fair amount of junk mail.

Sams Teach Yourself Internet and Web Basics All in One
Sams Teach Yourself Internet and Web Basics All in One
ISBN: 0672325330
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 350
Authors: Ned Snell

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