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If you get caught in this endless loop, you'll find that uninstalling AOL and reinstalling does not help. After many hours trying to figure out the solution, I finally found the cause of the problem.
The problem seems to occur when there are outdated AOL Adapter INF files in your \WINDOWS\Inf directory. It can ALSO be caused by INF files with a filesize of '0 bytes' preventing the current AOL Adapter files to be installed properly. Please note that the AOL adapter never successfully installs in this scenario -- Going to AOL System Information and then Utilities, followed by 'Uninstall AOL Adapter' will result in 'The AOL Adapter is currently not installed'.
To fix this: (These instructions are for Windows XP)
1) Click START. Then get to ACCESSORIES.. Then open up 'WINDOWS EXPLORER' (*NOT* Internet Explorer)
2) Click on 'TOOLS' then 'FOLDER OPTIONS'. Click the 'VIEW' tab. Make sure that: 'Show Hidden Files and Folders' is CHECKED. Also, make sure 'HIDE EXTENSIONS FOR KNOWN FILE TYPES' is UN-CHECKED. If you have a setting for 'SHO THE CONTENTS OF SYSTEM FOLDERS', make sure that is CHECKED. Click APPLY, then OK.
3) OK.. Navigate to your C: drive. Click the '+' next to Windows. Then open up the INF folder.
4) Click on the 'Name' column so that the files are in alphabetical order. Scroll down until you get to files that begin with 'OEM' followed by a number.
5) Right off the bat -- if you have *ANY* OEM files that are showing a filesize of 0 -- delete them. Also, be sure to delete its corresponding PNF file if one exists. (Example OEM11.INF and OEM11.PNF)
6) The next step will take a little work. You want to check each INF file by opening it, and looking for indications that it is for the AOL Adapter. If you double-click an INF file, it should open in Notepad by default. Look for a line that says 'WANATW.INF' at the top. If you dont see it, close the file and move to the next OEM INF file. Once youve found one, delete it along with its corresponding PNF file, as above.
7) Continue until you have gone through all OEM INF files. When you are done, reboot your machine and start AOL. AOL should automatically re-install the AOL adapter files correctly for you.
Hope this helps..
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