When AOL won't open, you lose access to everything available on your AOL desktop, including your contacts, mail and folders. If the program seems to start up but doesn't actually function, troubleshoot it to regain access to your AOL account. Before you start trying to repair AOL, restart your computer to make sure it wasn't just a temporary glitch.

Re-Installation

If you can't launch AOL, delete the program from the computer and install a fresh copy. You can download the program file online, use an AOL disc or create a disc from the AOL website (link in Resources). Installing a new copy of AOL removes any software problems that existed with the old installation. The new copy can start as when you first installed AOL. Since your information is tied to your account, your settings are available once you sign in.

Launch Options

One way to fix the problem when AOL won't start is to launch it from Windows instead of from the AOL Desktop Manager shortcut. Open "All Apps," and then click the "AOL Desktop Manager" program and see if it starts. If it doesn't, the program may be damaged and will need to be repaired before you can use AOL.

Install New ACS

Since AOL launched, the AOL icon should appear on the taskbar even if the program doesn't start. You may be able to enter AOL settings, re-install AOL Connectivity Service and connect to the Internet with the Desktop Manager. ACS is an AOL process that allows the program to connect to the Internet. Right-click the icon and then click "System Information." Click "Utilities," click "Start" next to AOL Process Shutdown, and then click "OK." Click the bottom left of your desktop screen, choose "Start," and then open the "C" drive. Click "Program Files | Common Files | AOL | ACS | Uninst.exe | Yes | OK." Close the window, open the "C" drive again, and then go back to the AOL folder. Click "Backup | ACS | Rollback | ACSSetup.exe | Yes." Wait until it finishes installing, and then restart your computer.

Check Computer Settings

First, run a virus scan on your computer and follow the instructions on the scanner to remove any threats that are found. Try to open AOL again. If it won't open, disable your anti-virus and firewall programs, and then try to launch the AOL program again. Re-enable your anti-virus and firewall programs when you're done. If AOL still won't open, try using Windows Restore to return your computer to a time before you installed the last AOL update. Using a previous version of AOL may solve your problem.