>The last time I looked into this myself, I found written somewhere in
>the mass of AOL help files that AOL does not allow for the use of any
>3rd party newsreaders with AOL. Due to this, I had decided to go with
>an outside provider. I still keep AOL around (although it is no
>longer my provider) simply because occasionally I find it useful for
>looking something up.
According to AOL, their news and mail servers do not conform to the
internet standards. As such, they cannot be used with third party
newsreaders or mail programs such as Agent or Eudora.
And, let's be honest, their newsreader SUCKS! (This is not mindless
AOL-bashing; just an honest critique of their newsreader.)
I would absolutely suggest (as I have so many times before) that anyone
on AOL STRONGLY consider using another newsreader, such as Agent. There
are SO MANY features that AOL's newsreader just doesn't have. The
problem is that you can't do this with AOL's news servers, since the
program won't be able to work with AOL's news servers properly.
There are a few other options:
1) Get an additional ISP (Internet Service Provider). Well, you could
switch altogether, though there are some things that AOl provides that
are fun and useful. If you want to stay on AOL, there's an alternative
that is cheaper than just paying for two ISP's. When you subscribe to
the additional ISP, switch to the "bring your own access account" on
AOL. With this plan, you connect to AOl through a direct internet
connection from your other ISP (that means no AOL busy signals!) And
you only pay $9.95/month for the AOL portion.
2) Use a separate news server. There are many available for free,
though I can't speak to their reliability in retrieving ALL posts (which
means that you can miss messages and parts of discussions.) Others are
available for fees ranging from around $5-30 per month. One advantage
to the commercial news servers is that they usually provide access to
newsgroups containing ***o and pirated software for longer periods of
time, if you're into those sorts of things. (That's why most people use
these news servers.) I've heard good things about Airnews for only
$10/month, though they're not always completely complete.
3) Complain to AOL demanding that they standardize their servers with
the rest of the internet! I don't know how effective this will be, but
it couldn't hurt to make the point!
Ultimately, if you're looking for a commercial news server (if the free
ones aren't reliable enough for you), you'd probably be better off with
another ISP, unless you want the ***o or illegal software.