How To Back Up Firefox With MozBackup

The best way to backup all your Firefox profile (including bookmarks, add-ons, passwords and tweaks) is the free MozBackup program. We are big fans of Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, especially the variety of add-ons that can be installed to enhance functionality, tweak the layout or provide new features. But what about backing it all up and restoring it?

Why You Should Backup Firefox – Let’s say you have spent some time changing preferences and Firefox layout to just how you want them, installing and configuring your favorite add-ons, tweaking Firefox to speed it up, saving passwords for websites and building up a perfect list of bookmarks (favorites).

The last thing you want is to have start from scratch again with a standard Firefox installation! There are several reasons why you may need a backup:

1. If Windows needs to be reinstalled (e.g. after virus attack) – if you have backed up your profile you can restore it quickly and easily.
2. If you buy another computer – you can transfer your profile and all its settings onto it.
3. If Firefox becomes so corrupted that you can’t start it (very rare but can happen e.g. if you install a new add-on that doesn’t work properly) – you can restore your saved copy to fix the problem.

In all cases, restoring from a saved file will make Firefox look and work exactly the same as before – including all your bookmarks, configuration, passwords and add-ons.

How To Backup Firefox – Firefox itself provides a way to manually save your Bookmarks (menu bar / Bookmarks / Show All Bookmarks / Import And Backup / Backup).

It also lets you synchronize (Menu bar / Tools / Options / Synch) which will save your bookmarks, partial configuration and open tabs over the web to keep Firefox on all your computers synchronized e.g. if you add a new bookmark on one computer it will be replicated on the others. This is useful if you regularly use Firefox on different computers but it does not save add-ons/extensions or all your configuration tweaks and it is not very easy to set up.

However, the easiest way to backup all your profile (including bookmarks, add-ons, passwords and tweaks) is to use the free MozBackup software which can be downloaded here. It runs on all versions of Windows from W98 right through to Windows 7.

Using MozBackup

  • Close Firefox (you cannot back it up if it is open)
  • Install Mozbackup, start the program and press ‘Next’ to start
  • Click the radio box to ‘Backup a profile’ and select the application you want to save e.g. ‘Mozilla Firefox 5.0’

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  • Click ‘Next’ then select the profile you want to save (you will likely only have one showing)
  • Press the ‘Browse’ button and browse to the directory where you want to save the backup file then choose ‘Save’ then ‘Next’

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  • If you want to password protect the file choose ‘Yes’ and enter/confirm a password – don’t forget it or you will not be able to use the file to restore Firefox in future!
  • In the Details panel ensure that all boxes (that are not greyed out) are ticked

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  • Click the ‘Unknown Files’ button and make sure the ‘Select/Deselect All’ box is ticked – this will ensure that all the individual boxes are ticked

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  • Press the ‘OK’ button and then ‘Next’ to start – it should only take a few seconds
  • A report will confirm that the file has been created – choose the ‘Finish’ button

The file will have been saved in the location you specified earlier.

Using MozBackup To Restore Firefox

It is simple to use your saved file to restore Firefox to the same computer or a new one – the process is virtually the same as the backup process:

  • If Firefox is already installed, skip to the next step. If it is not currently installed you need to install it first – download the same version of Firefox that you had when you performed the backup (the backup file name contains the Firefox version number). If you need an older version of Firefox, you can download any older version from Filehippo in the right hand panel here (remember to update it to the latest version once you have completed the restore).
  • Now Firefox is installed, close it (as you cannot restore it if it is open)
  • Install Mozbackup (if it is not installed already), start the program and press ‘Next’ to start
  • Click the radio box to ‘Restore a profile’ and then the application you want to restore e.g. ‘Mozilla Firefox 5.0’
  • Choose ‘Next’ then select the profile you want to restore (you will likely only have one showing)
  • Select the ‘Browse’ button and browse to the directory where you saved the file, select it then click ‘Open’ then ‘Next’
  • In the Details panel ensure that all boxes (that are not greyed out) are ticked
  • Choose the ‘Unknown Files’ button and make sure the ‘Select/Deselect All’ box is ticked – this will ensure that all the individual boxes are ticked
  • Click the ‘OK’ button and then ‘Next’ to start the restore – it should only take a few seconds
  •  A report will confirm that the restore has completed successfully – press the ‘Finish’ button

Your saved profile has now been restored – when you open Firefox you should find it looking exactly as it did when you saved the backup :-)

Using MozBackup To Backup Other Programs

Note that MozBackup can also backup and restore other popular Mozilla programs like Thunderbird (email), Sunbird (calendar), Flock and Seamonkey using exactly the same process.

6 Responses to: "How To Back Up Firefox With MozBackup"

  1. noname says:

    can I use it to transfer all my history,passwords,extensions and preferences from ff3.6.20 to ff5 or above?thanx.

    • admin says:

      Only issues we can think of are that FF4 introduced major changes like new menu structures etc so some of your preferences may no longer apply – and some of your extensions may not be compatible with FF6 (or will need updating afterwards).

      If we were upgrading to FF6 then we would do a Mozbackup of 3.6.20 first (just in case) then upgrade/install FF6 over the top of 3.6 (to keep all the profile/passwords etc intact) – then we’d just need to tweak the new features/menus to suit.

      If you plan to uninstall 3.6 completely and do a NEW/clean install of FF6 you should not rely ONLY on a single program like Mozbackup – to be on the safe side you should also backup the whole of your profile folder manually – it should be stored in your user account : application data (or appdata) \mozilla\firefox\profiles – and is a folder with a random name.

  2. iphoness says:

    “Using” FireFox Sync “can always keep a backup of bookmarks automatically as and when it changes”, too! And… being int the cloud you’re in always in sync, as well! If you know what I mean!

    • admin says:

      Good point – Sync is a great tool for synchronizing bookmarks, passwords, settings, history, and tabs with Firefox on your other computers and keeping them updated automatically.

      However, it isn’t a full backup solution because it doesn’t (yet) synch/backup Firefox Add-ons (extensions). Extensions are the reason many people use Firefox and 10+ extensions is common – with a lot of time spent configuring them.

      MozBackup does backup these extensions (including their configured options) as well as everything else so we would choose MozBackup for regular backups and Firefox Sync for synchronizing with other computers – there is no reason why you can’t use both.

  3. Paul G says:

    You can schedule the backup(s) as well. I run 2 jobs, one each for Thunderbird and Firefox.

    Instructions can be found at http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/command-line-backup.php

    In Windows you need to specify the FULL path to mozbackup.exe in the scheduled task(s). I set my jobs to run a batch file that starts with a “close this app” message and pauses. If the app is not closed then the job will fail.

    • Roy says:

      Great point Paul – setting up a regular weekly backup of Firefox (or Thunderbird) using Task Scheduler is a good idea.

      Just to clarify for other readers, if Firefox is open then Mozbackup will fail so Paul suggests running a batch file first to prompt you to close Firefox before MozBackup does its backup