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FF 29.0.1 Sync function - what does it actually do?

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  • Last reply by bfotk

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Hi From all the reading I have done, it would appear that *nobody* actually knows what the Sync function actually does.

My understanding of the term 'Sync' is that a copy is kept of something (data in this case) which can be copied from the originating device and then at a later stage copied back to the device when required. The status of the stored data may be different from the originating device and usually there would be a means of updating the stored data upon command to refresh it. This idea would keep the stored data up to date so that when needed, it can be copied back to the originating device thus 'synchronizing' the originating device to the stored data.

However, it would appear that others may have a different interpretation of the term 'Sync'.

Can anyone explain what the FF definition is?

If I create an account, set up the data options I want to sync, then FF will sync this data 'automatically' in the background - what on earth does this mean?

Example: I have a bookmark. That bookmark has been included in the data to be sync'ed. I then need to reinstall my OS and the reinstall FF and of course, log in to the sync function. Would the stored bookmark be automatically be restored to the new fresh FF install?

Chosen solution

Just use it is the easiest method. Try it out now before you reinstall the OS.

Did you even look at the main two help articles I linked to in my last post

It definitely is intended to allow you to copy the intended data

  • Bookmarks
  • History
  • Addons
  • Prefs
  • Open Tabs (That is new with Fx29)
  • (CARE) Passwords, but currently only if the master password is off.

The settings as attached screenshot

And what about the other articles linked to

This means you can recover all your data, even if you lose all your devices at the same time. Setting up a new device only requires typing your Firefox Account email and password into it.

Personally I would play safe and ensure I had necessary profile backups to use whenever Sync is in use, and certainly on something as important as installing Firefox on a new or reformatted device.

You say the documentation is superficial. Please look at this for a good full explanation

Schematic

(link)

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My understanding is the new Firefox accounts sync should be able to do that. The old one however was intended to sync between devices not from the Mozilla Server.

Given the issues with Sync in the past I personally would ensure I had the Firefox profile backed up before any reinstall. Even if I routinely used the new Sync I would continue backing up profiles and bookmarks manually. With the old sync it would not have been unknown for the server to be down and the sync process all too often messed up and duplicated bookmarks.

New features should work well and reliably, but I am not sure how much trust I place in anything new. So you may also be interested in

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Hi Thanks for your reply. I don't want to muddy the waters by discussing the 'old' version of the Sync function as I have never used either it or the new version. I am asking these questions to decide whether or not I want to try it out. The main concern I have (as I would expect anyone to have) is that I need to understand what is actually being done (beyond the blurb I have seen from Mozilla) which is very superficial. I don't want to have to reinstall my OS and FF just to find out if it works as expected. With my lack of understanding, I really don't know how to test if it works as expected. Can anyone explain how to test it and/or explain what it actually does?

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Chosen Solution

Just use it is the easiest method. Try it out now before you reinstall the OS.

Did you even look at the main two help articles I linked to in my last post

It definitely is intended to allow you to copy the intended data

  • Bookmarks
  • History
  • Addons
  • Prefs
  • Open Tabs (That is new with Fx29)
  • (CARE) Passwords, but currently only if the master password is off.

The settings as attached screenshot

And what about the other articles linked to

This means you can recover all your data, even if you lose all your devices at the same time. Setting up a new device only requires typing your Firefox Account email and password into it.

Personally I would play safe and ensure I had necessary profile backups to use whenever Sync is in use, and certainly on something as important as installing Firefox on a new or reformatted device.

You say the documentation is superficial. Please look at this for a good full explanation

Schematic

(link)

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Hi Sorry for delayed reply - I have been trying to fix another issue (which I am about to post here)

I did look at the links you posted, and I still feel that the contents are superficial. Lots of comparisons to the old version and assuming readers are already familiar with old version, and little/nothing of the overall view of what it actually does.

I may have to bite the bullet and set up the necessary details and try it out (I *will* backup my FF profile first though.

Thanks for your help.

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As long as you back up your profile you can reverse changes if necessary by using the old profile. If you create a new test profile you may use that to test out sync without affecting the current profile. Do take note however once a profile is created it is good practice not to delete or rename it. (Too much room for errors and for instance loss of profiles)

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Can anyone define Sync in 25 words or less? OK, 100 words or less.

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The Wikipedia article "Data Synchronization" pretty much has it all.

My first question about Firefox sync is whether it works on the file or data level and how it deals with time stamps and whether it works properly with just two installations or over four or five (or more).

Does it sync "computer to computer" (like the old Palm HotSync, which was one of the best syncing programs I ever used but required a direct connection from one device to the other) or does it copy a bookmark file to a cloud location and then promulgate it when I log in here and there?

I'm guessing it's the latter situation. How does it handle time stamps? How does Firefox stamp bookmark files and when? Does it take care with created, accessed, and modified dates?

I'm concerned that if I activate Firefox sync here and now for the first time (I'm currently in NY), when I soon get to AZ (where I've never used Firefox sync) and open up Firefox, the browser/OS combination will update the "accessed" stamp on the bookmarks file. Will that make the file look newer than the one from NY? I assume that I'll have to be very careful not to add or delete any bookmarks before doing the sync there for the first time.

I've had some very bad automated syncing experiences and frankly, I don't trust Mozilla/Firefox to do it right without further information.

The "Give it a try and see if it works for you" isn't a good approach. Or at least it's not a good approach without protecting myself by carrying along a thumb drive with bookmark file backed up to it...the very thing I'm interested in avoiding.