Firefox: Save your bookmarks

September 8, 2010

My husband’s computer had to be reinstalled with Windows last week (don’t ask…). We had time to copy all his data files to an external backup drive, but as usual, there’s always something you forget to copy. In his case, we forgot to copy his Microsoft Word Templates folder — and his Firefox Bookmarks. We probably forgot other stuff too, but these are the ones we noticed immediately. (I’m using the royal ‘we’ here — as the resident geek, it was MY job to do all this copying and remembering…)

The Templates folder was easy to solve — the PC Guru guys had made an image of the hard drive, so they were able to copy it back from his old profile.

But as he hadn’t backed up his Firefox Bookmarks — ever — they seemed to be gone forever. However, the PC Guru guys performed a miracle and found them after a bit of searching under various user names.

BTW, Firefox does save your bookmarks in a JSON file hidden deep in your user profile (e.g. on Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<some weird name>\bookmarkbackups)

Of course, this little episode reminded me to save my extensive list of bookmarks to another location immediately. I’ve now set myself an Outlook reminder to back up our bookmarks once a month. I don’t think this is a scheduled task you can set via Windows, so we’ll have to do it manually. And we’ll be saving that file to an external, cloud backup, or networked drive, NOT our main PCs.

Here’s how to save your Firefox bookmarks:

  1. From the Firefox menu, select Bookmarks > Organize Bookmarks.
  2. Click Import and Backup.
  3. You have two choices — you can either select Backup (saves the file as a JSON file), or Export HTML (saves the file as an HTML file). See below for the differences.
  4. Navigate to where you want to save the file, give it a meaningful file name (e.g. include the date you made the backup if you chose the Export HTML option).
  5. Click Save.

What’s the difference: My understanding of the differences between a Backup (JSON) file and an exported HTML file is that if you need to restore your bookmarks later, the JSON file option will overwrite all current bookmarks on Restore. The HTML option will append (not overwrite) bookmarks not already in the existing list to the existing list on Import HTML. (See http://kb.mozillazine.org/Lost_bookmarks for details.)

Bottom line:

  • Backup your bookmarks regularly — set yourself a reminder to do so.
  • Make a copy of your backed up bookmarks to an external or network drive, or back them up to ‘cloud’ storage.

[Links last checked September 2010]


  1. Good idea! That’s not something I would have thought to backup. But I use Delicious. Have you tried that? I switched when I started using more than one browser on a regular basis.

  2. Hi Rhonda,

    why not backup Firefox with all bookmarks and extensions? There’s a really neat extension for this “FEBE”. It can even do scheduled backups.

    I’ve been using this for two years now and all my bookmarks and extensions return happily back to life, each time I re-install one of my systems.

  3. Use xmarks!
    It’s a backup/synchronizing tool for Firefox. So you can keep bookmarks on different computers in sync and next to this you always have a backup available.
    Works with ie, Firefox, Safari and Chrome and also over different plattforms: Win, Mac, Mobiles.

    And it’s free!

    –> http://www.xmarks.com/

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