If you ever wanted to go back and re-read conversations you had on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), you likely realized that you're out of luck. If you close your IM box without saving your conversations, unfortunately, you will not be able to recover your chats. However, you can make it easier for yourself in the future by setting your preferences to log your chats or having a third-party IM recording program in place.
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When you launch AIM, select "Settings" under the "Edit" header, and then "IM Logs." There, you can check the "Log IMs" and "Log Chats" boxes and apply the settings so you can go back to old conversations. The conversations should save to your "My Documents" folder, in a sub-folder called "AIM Logger."
If you do not have those logging selections checked, then your conversations will drift off into IM space (AOL more than likely has a system in place to recover information it needs, but only in the event a legal matter requires such information).
Various software programs designed to run on Windows operating systems are able to record your IM sessions, so you do not have to worry about setting your preferences or remembering to save your chats. You can download AIM Monitor Sniffer, which monitors, records and captures AIM conversations on all computers in a network, exporting all intercepted messages to HTML files.
Multiprotocol IM program Trillian--which has the capabilities to connect to multiple IM services--may work as an effective third-party IM program. Once you close a chat window, Trillian automatically logs all of your chats.
Other include IMMonitor AIM Spy, Instant Message Grabber and Messenger Backup; the latter which performs similarly to the others, except that it works for various IM programs and not just AIM. IMMonitor Enterprise Edition and RedHanded.Net's Record Instant Messages also monitor and capture IM conversations on your LAN, and work with AIM and other IM programs.
IM recording software may be available as a free trial download, so if available, take advantage of that option to see what program works best for your IM needs.