Label me a fool. I have been using Firefox since it debuted and all this time, I have never learned or took the time to find out how to backup my Firefox profile. I spend a lot of time rebuilding machines for testing and whatnot and each time I have to reinstall/reconfigure all of my Firefox extensions and settings. This might not be so bad if you are not a hardcore Firefox user but when you start harnessing all the third party plugins and extensions to customize your browser, you’ll quickly begin to understand what a hassle it could be to start again from scratch. In this article, I will go over a simple Firefox plugin that will help you quickly and easily backup as well as restore your Firefox settings on any computer. We all know how Firefox can be customized to your liking. From extensions that help you block obtrusive ads to one’s that can add much needed features to your favorite websites, it’s all there. However, I’m not going to rant about how awesome the browser is. Chances are if you are using Firefox now to read this post, you already know what it can do for you. The point of this post is to help you and others realize how easy it is to backup your Firefox settings whether it may be for backup or migration purposes. For example, if you use two or more computers, wouldn’t you want your Firefox experience to be the same across all of them? What about when your computer all of a sudden crashes and you haven’t made a recent system image? You certainly could do what I and many others have done in manually reinstalling each and every extension you have used (good luck remembering them all) and reconfiguring all your saved passwords and bookmarks. Or, you could simply reload your saved Firefox profile and be done with it.You can download the FEBE extension here.
I now humbly present to you the FEBE (Firefox Environment Backup Extension) addon for Firefox. This extension takes out all the work of manually backing up your Firefox browser and presents to you a easy to use interface that just about anyone can use. The restore process is also as simple as can be. First of all, FEBE gives you the option of manually select ‘what’ you want to backup. You have a host of options from your cookies, themes, preferences, extensions, bookmarks, usernames and passwords etc. As mentioned previously, you also have the option to backup your entire Firefox profile. Think of this as creating a Firefox ‘image’. Once created, you can restore the profile on the computer it was made from or you can blast the profile to another computer with a bare-bones install of Firefox. Doing so will instantly install all of your extensions as well as all the other items so that your Firefox browsers will become identical on each computer.
# Configuring FEBE
Once FEBE is installed, you can access it via the Tools menu. Select FEBE Options to configure it. From here, you can easily select what type of backup you want to create. If you select the Selective option, you can then select which items you want to be backed up. Selecting the Full Profile option will gray out the choices as it will obviously backup everything.
In the Directory tab, you can select the folder to hold your backups.
In the Schedule tab, you can configure FEBE to automatically make a backup at an interval of your choosing or whenever Firefox starts or shutdown.
The 3 other tabs are not that important. You can choose to create a Box.net account to upload your backed up settings to their online servers. If you choose this course, you would set up the account on that tab.
# Backing up
Performing the actual backup couldn’t be any more easier. If you set up a backup schedule, you could wait for the automatic backup to start but if not, you simply go back into FEBE in the Tools menu and select Perform Backup. The files will then be stored in the folder you specified in the Directory tab.
If you chose to selectively back up items rather than a full profile backup, you’ll have more files in the folder.
Restoring is another simple process. Access the FEBE menu and select the Restore option. You will then see a list of items you can choose to restore. Select the one that fits your situation. If you are restoring extensions, you can easily restore all of them at once by making sure to highlight all of them in the dialog box. If you are restoring a full profile, it gets a little trickier. You need to create a new Firefox profile and then you will be able to restore it to that newly created profile.
The FEBE site has an excellent two part video showing you how to backup and restore a full profile. Please watch it in it’s entirety if you are lost.
Once you have restored your profile or extension, everything should be in place again. When I restored my full profile backup on another computer running a bare install of Firefox, I was quickly amazed. Everything was in place including my customized toolbar buttons, all of my extensions, and my preferences and passwords behaved exactly the same as if I was using Firefox on my original computer. You can see why I have labeled it similar to a computer system image.
I love FEBE in that it allows me to backup only what I need. Sometimes you don’t want to restore your entire profile but rather only the extensions that you use. With FEBE, this is certainly possible. No longer do I have to remember or write down the extensions I use. Hopefully, the author of FEBE will continue to update this awesome utility.
I want to conclude this post by listing some of my personal favorite Firefox extensions. There are literally thousands of extensions so feel free to browse through them.
One of the most popular and useful Firefox extension ever. It will help block out ads that you normally see when you visit websites. Try using this add-on for a month or two and try switching it off. You’ll be surprised at how different the Internet looks.
Another extension that will prove useful. It will help you synchronize your bookmarks so that you will never be left out in the dark when you use your other computers. Added a bookmark on one system? Simply synchronize on the second computer and everything will be there.
A must need extension if you do a lot of reading in Firefox. Simply double click a unknown word and it will instantly popout a little toolbox that shows you the definition. This will save you a great deal of time!
Are you tired of visiting websites where there are a constant amount of flash embedded videos? Now you can prevent them from ever loading with this extension. Of course, you can choose to load them individually or you can simply exempt a site from being blocked, for example, the Youtube site.
Want the best of both worlds with Firefox and Internet Explorer but don’t want to open both of them up? Well, now you can! With this simple extension, you can now quickly switch a website that doesn’t load correctly in Firefox to use the Internet Explorer engine. Awesome!
Another must have security extension. Once installed, it will highlight the actual/real domain name of a website. This is to prevent spoofing attacks in which you think you are at a legitimate website but in reality, you’re not. This will help you quickly see the domain name the website is registered under. Internet Explorer 8 has domain highlighting by default.
Want to quickly control your media player while browsing the net but without having to actually open your music application? Now you can with FoxyTunes. This nifty plugin supports dozens of the most popular music player today so you can quickly pause or skip a track all without having to leave Firefox.
This will help you shorten those really long URLs into a compact version you can use in forums and in your emails. When the person clicks on it, they will be redirected to the original site.