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Author Topic: How to Back Up Your Firefox Profile  (Read 223 times)

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Offline Greg

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How to Back Up Your Firefox Profile
« on: April 24, 2016, 12:43 am »
INTRODUCTION

You should routinely backup your Firefox profile in case it becomes corrupted or your HDD fails or any other calamity (including Windows Update and Firefox auto-update) kills your profile. You should also backup your profile if you are doing anything "iffy" to Firefox that could possibly screw up your profile. Note that this also gives you the capability of reverting to an older Firefox profile for any reason.

Note that IMO you should always save your Firefox profile before updating Firefox to a later version. Sometimes Firefox changes your profile in a way that is not compatible with previous versions. If you don't like the new version you are stuck with it unless you saved your previous profile.

I recommend you should perform this procedure no less than once a month. I always do it just before I use Windows Update.

What we are going to accomplish: (1) save our profile, (2) save our bookmarks separately, (3) save our cookies separately. The last two are also included in your profile but it may become handy some day to import one or the other into a different profile, or even start out with a fresh Firefox install and get your bookmarks and cookies back..

BEFORE WE START

1.) Important: Save your profile on an external HDD or thumb drive, or if a desktop with multiple HDDs, save it on a drive that does not contain your operating system. The system HDD on any desktop is the most likely drive to crash, and if you saved your profile there and the disk becomes corrupted you lost your backup.

2.) I recommend you install one Firefox add-on: Cookies Export/Import 1.0.1 (that's the current version). This add-on allows you to (obviously) export your cookies separately from your profile.

3.) Although not absolutely necessary it is better to close all applications except Firefox before beginning. Close all Firefox windows to shut down the program.

THE PROCEDURE

1.) Decide where you are going to save your profile. As stated earlier you should store the backup somewhere other than your primary HDD. An external USB or thumb drive is ideal. Make a folder/directory to store your backup in and make sure you include the date of the backup in its name.

2.) Open Firefox then select Help --> Troubleshooting --> Profile Folder --> then click Show Folder. This will open Windows Explorer (or the file manager appropriate to your operating system) showing the contents of your Firefox profile. This is not what we want. We want the entire folder so use your file manager to go UP one level. You will see a directory with a name composed of about 8 random characters then .default, something like 9m3lf4u8.default. That is what we want to save, your entire Firefox profile.

3.) VERY IMPORTAINT!!! At this point you MUST close all Firefox windows and tabs, entirely shutting down the program!!! Firefox uses a semaphore (Google that) to tell itself it's open, to prevent multiple instances of Firefox running. If you save your profile with Firefox running, then try to use the profile, Firefox will have problems because it will think it's already running. The semaphore is in the profile, get it? :)

4.) At this point you should have your file manager open and showing the profile folder from step #2. Now open another window to the location you previously prepared to save, copy and paste your profile into the new folder. On windows highlight the profile folder with your mouse, then ctrl-C, switch folders, ctrl-V. (Hold down the Ctrl key and then hit the C or V key to perform the actions.) Alternately you can mouse right click and select Copy, then click the destination and right click mouse and select Paste. If you have performed this step correctly you should now have a copy of your profile on your external drive.

5.) Now we are going to save your bookmarks. Select Bookmarks --> Show All Bookmarks. In the bookmark manager top menu select Import and Backup --> Export bookmarks to HTML.... then navigate to your folder and click Save. You should see bookmarks.html appear in your file manager.

6.) If you installed the recommended add-on it's time to save your cookies. Select Tools --> Export Cookies. It will probably open in your backup folder but if not then navigate there and click Save. You should see cookies.txt appear in your file manager.

CONCLUSION

If you have performed the above steps correctly your destination backup folder should contain files like so:

Code: [Select]
9m3lf4u8.default
bookmarks.html
cookies.txt

Note that the profile is of course a folder and the other two are regular files. If this is what you see then you have successfully backed up your Firefox profile and separately backed up your bookmarks and cookies.

Final note: Repeating, I suggest you perform this procedure at least once a month, and if you are running Windows then do it just before updating Windows.

ALTERNATE PROCEDURE

Do all the same steps as above, then copy the entire backup folder to an external drive. This will leave a copy handy on your computer if you are doing something that does not involve a total crash or HDD corruption/failure. But remember to save it on an external drive too; this procedure does not fully protect your profile.

Author's note: I am a professional software developer and I have an extensive home intranet including about 20TB of RAID storage on NAS (network attached storage) drives. Like they say, too much is never enough! :rofl: I perform the backup procedure described above to a local folder and then I copy my ENTIRE My Documents folder to one of my network drives each month, just before Windows Update. There are many ways to backup your computer and while this is an unusual one it works for me.