Saturday, December 01, 2007

The case of the missing Firefox extensions

I'm something of a Firefox evangelist, quick to exhort any Internet Explorer users to accept Firefox as their browser of choice. Today, however, I encountered my first-ever serious problem with Firefox. I feel betrayed. Firefox, how could you? After all I've done for you, all the IE-using heathens I've converted, and this is how you repay me?

It all started when I tried to save a bookmark to my account. My extension was gone. Huh? I looked at my add-ons and saw it listed, but when I tried to edit the options for it, Firefox froze. Not good. Then I noticed Zotero was gone. Zotero, home of my burgeoning online library of gardening articles... gone. Uh, oh...

After snooping around on the web for a bit, I learned that a recent Firefox update, to ver., caused some users to lose their extensions. The next upgrade, to, doesn't fix the problem. I tried several suggestions found on various message boards, but nothing worked until I took drastic action. So, fellow Firefox users, if you encounter this problem, get yourself some junk food for sustenance and try this:

  • If you have any data in Firefox that you want to save, back up your current Firefox settings. To do that, copy the folder containing your Firefox data someplace safe, like a USB drive or CD. On my Windows XP box, my Firefox application data can be found at C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Application Data\Mozilla.
  • Uninstall Firefox (use Control Panel -> Add and Remove Programs). Delete the Firefox folder from step 1 (not your backup copy, just the one on your computer).
  • Restart your computer and [gag... sputter] launch Internet Explorer.
  • Download a fresh copy of Firefox and install it. Install your favorite extensions and verify that they work. Close Firefox.
  • Copy over the data from your backed-up Firefox folder. Do NOT copy everything! You may overwrite your new extension info and possibly restore corrupt data, leaving you right back at step one. Instead, look through the folder and copy over only what you need, e.g. your bookmarks or data associated with important extensions.
  • Launch Firefox and verify that everything still works, and your data is there.

I still think Firefox rocks compared to IE, but this incident is a good reminder that even we Firefox users need to back up our data.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm having the same issue right now and I'm on 3.6 for Mac. At least their bugs are consistent across platforms. Still, this is the worst thing I've experienced as a FF user.