AOL attachment warning message bug can crash your Mac

AOL attachment warning message bug can crash your Mac

America Online has added a new "email attachment warning" to AOL 4.0 (possibly in response to the Melissa virus scare). Beware: making the "wrong" set of selections here can trigger a bug that causes a freeze or crash.

As reported by Eric Dickmann and Paul Christensen: When you get an email with an attachment, AOL will now put up a warning message asking whether you want to proceed with the download or not. At some point, there will also be a checkbox to disable getting this same warning in the future. If you select to download the file and enable the "Don't show this warning again" check box, you will likely get a freeze or unexpected quit soon thereafter. Paul got a Type 2 error with every subsequent download attempt. Rebooting did not fix the problem.

Paul eventually found the immediate cause of the problem: For some reason, checking the "don't show" option corrupts the file "DOD Database" within the "Online Files" folder. If you re-install AOL 4, the problem will be corrected. Likewise, restoring the "DOD Database" file from a backup (from before last Friday) will also again allow you to download files.

Both Paul and Eric contacted AOL Technical Support about this. AOL confirmed the bug (which only affects the Mac platform version of AOL 4.0) and said that they are working on a fix. They would not give an estimate as to when a fix would be available.

In the mean time, AOL confirmed that the way to work-around the bug is to re-install your AOL software and when you attempt download an attachment again, do not disable the warning message. You may also get around the complete reinstall by using the Download Manager. However, if you ever wish to use the "Download Now" feature again, you'll need to do the reinstall.

Update: Jeff Hanson claims: "I found a better fix: Simply remove the 'DOD Database' from within the 'Online Files' folder and when you open AOL up it will create a new "DOD Database.'"

Another reader notes that this problem can occur even in AOL 3.0, if you have also installed AOL 4.0 on your drive.