How to Backup & Restore Firefox Preferences?

By Shaon, Gaea News Network
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The great thing about working in a place that really lets you get wild with technology is that you are learning something new everyday. The stuff ranges from tweaking every thing and product at your disposal without worrying what is going to be the impending consequence if something really goes hay wire. When tweaking the api of wine just to match it with Ubuntu’s GTK theme or trying to break into a password protected windows/Mac Computer is not really out of bounds well nothing really is. Most of the brunt of our inquisitive minds is borne by our trusty old war horse the ubiquitous Mozilla Fire Fox browser. Care to know how we keep our selves at bay from our ever frowning technical support, when we change the settings of Firefox for so long that we forget the initial preferences that we started out with? And yes we DIY it.

The great thing about Firefox is everything is customizable so it remains an essential however seemingly difficult task to back them up for a rainy day. Before we start out it is quite essential to give a heads up for all those who arrived a bit late. We would be primarily working with many of the settings that however customizable, are to be done manually and not from the Tools > Options menu. The Firefox manges its configuration in a way that is at home with how Windows Registry works. Each setting or preference is assigned a name and is stored in the form of a string (text), integer (number) or Boolean (true/false) value. But yes the configurations are not stored in a registry but in a file known as the prefs.js. It is possible to manually edit the file but a simpler solution would be in changing them through the browser itself.

First off type “about:config” (without the quotes) in the address bar. You will find the settings which your browser is being working on being listed. To change any config all you have to do is to click on it to change the value. Moreover you can’t expect all the options to be available by default. So some manual editing is in order. Also to be noted that the hacks if any you implement may be revised in the later versions. Looking at Mozilla’s reputation a new one may be just around the corner. So it becomes an all important issue to make sure that you take of backup of every setting there is because you may never know what hack would brick the browser. The instance of this happening is particularly visible for sites that allow a limited amount of connections per server. So depending on your network settings a hack may not always work as advertised.

It is clear till now that the pref.js is an all important entity and in order to make backup in the event something does not goes to plan is to make a back up of it and storing somewhere safe with the settings that works best for you. It is to be noted that while making any changes to it. Well now tell you the path where the profile folder of Firefox where the file is housed.

In Windows XP, the profile folder is

  • \Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ .default\

In Windows Vista, this folder is

  • \Users\\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ .default\

It is to be noted that the Application Data and AppData are hidden by default settings, so they may not show up unless you enable the show hidden objects from the folder options where the “Show hidden files and folders” options may be selected under the View tab.

In Mac OS X, the profile folder is

  • /Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/ .default/

and in Linux it’s

  • ~/.mozilla/firefox/ .default/

It would just be easier to search the file prefs.js in these platforms.

So there you go the next time you try to venture out with the hacks as shown in this site the back up can reduce considerable amount of pain and anguish. You could also use the Firefox Extension Backup Extension (FEBE). It not only backs up your pref.js files but also the extensions, themes, cookies, form history and so on. Wondering what hack to try first well bu creating an nglayout.initialpaint.delay integer preference will allow you to load up pages faster. By changing the settings you will effectively change the time Firefox waits before starting to render a given page. Fire fox defaults as 250 milliseconds. Try changing its value to a range between 0 and 50 to one that suits you.

November 21, 2010: 10:01 am

I use Firefox regularly for personal and professional purposes. Thanks a lot for sharing the details. Saving data won’t be a problem anymore.

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