Recovering your Mozilla Firefox bookmarks

My Windows installation recently ran into a blue screen of death. No problem. For many people that means a reboot. However, in certain rare cases, you can lose your bookmarks after something like this. I’d assume that most people would just start all over from scratch a little ticked off, but there is a way to get back your bookmarks.

Note: Your missing bookmarks might be due to other causes, like switching into the wrong profile (fix this by going into the Mozilla Suite Profile Manager). If you are sure this isn’t the case, feel free to continue reading. You can find more information at the MozillaZine Knowledge Base.

Firefox stores several daily backups of your bookmark files, but they are written over in a “rolling” fashion, such that eventually, all of your bookmark backup files will get overwritten.

According to the MozillaZine Knowledge Base, this occurs about five times in a day1, and they say that if you’ve lost your bookmarks that you should act fast.

If you are working on a corporate network or fortunate enough to have setup your home system to be imaged by something like Acronis True Image2 then it would probably be trivial (easy) to open up the latest image of your hard disk, and extract the bookmarks.html file from that.

step 1

To restore, first find a good working bookmarks.html file (if you have something like Acronis, you can find your bookmarks.html file in the same way). You can find these by searching for bookmarks.* as suggested by the MozillaZine KB article

On Windows XP:
Start->Search->All Files and Folders->All or part of the file name:->bookmarks.*

(I’m not certain if the same “structure” applies for Linux systems, but `find / -name bookmarks.*` might have the same effect. If you update your locatedb once in awhile, you can use `locate` to the same effect)

For some typical users, bookmarks.html will be in C:\Documents and Settings\(Your Windows User Name)\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\.default

Search around in there for a working bookmarks.html backup, and move on to the final step.

step 2

Now, the final step is to simply replace your backup copy of bookmarks.html. But wait! There is a caveat! You must close Firefox while performing this step, otherwise your changes will have no effect (bookmarks.html will just be written with whatever Firefox closed with, which is nothing probably).

So close your browser window, and replace bookmarks.html by moving the current one elsewhere, then rename your backup to bookmarks.html. Open Firefox, and your bookmarks should be there.

1 You can modify the amount of bookmark backups stored by opening a Firefox browser window, typing in about:config in the URL box (hitting enter of course), typing in for filter backup (hitting enter again), and then modifying the browser.bookmarks.max_backups value to something other than 5.
2 Acronis True Image 7 was actually posted for free — and Acronis (as far as I last know) is still giving away serial keys for it. You may want to search around for it.

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4 responses to “Recovering your Mozilla Firefox bookmarks

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