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Can Firefox history be restored? If so, how?

  • 21 replies
  • 11 have this problem
  • Last reply by cor-el

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Hi, I was wondering can Firefox history be restored? I had history from June 2014 and Firefox deleted it all last week, is there a way for all the history to be restored or not? I really hope there is, I just had some important sites in there and I always referred to them but now all the history is gone, is there a way for me to restore the browsing history from June 2014 until now? If there is, how is it done? Is there any easy and simple way to get browsing history restored? Any help will be greatly appreciated, thank you so much.

All Replies (20)

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Not likely unless you have a backup copy of the places.sqlite file. You can check if you have an "Old Firefox Data" folder on the desktop in case you have reset (refresh) Firefox or have more than one Firefox profile folder.

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cor-el does System Restore do any good as far as restoring history goes? Will System Restore bring back the history websites and all the pages or not? Thanks for helping.

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Not very likely and you may lose more data in the Firefox profile folder and may have to reinstall Firefox as well. Only some white-listed files are restored, so always be cautious with using System Restore. On Windows XP it is not likely that SQLite files are part of a restore point.

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Ok thanks for telling me, I guess I wont use System Restore then. cor-el do you know how I can check to see if I have a backup copy of the places.sqlite file?

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Please feel free to kick me out of here if unrelated to Daniel's Question.

1. My Firefox's main profile's 'places.sqlite' got corrupted today. 'Places Maintenance' add-on confirmed this:

   - The database is corrupt
   - Unable to fix corruption, database will be replaced on next startup

2. Upon restarting all the navigation history had gone somewhere in hyperspace, as well as last session's bookmarks operations. New places.sqlite.corrupt in FF's main profile.

3. Moved the places.sqlite.corrupt to a new profile, renaming it places.sqlite. - Upon starting, all the bookmarks (even from the last session) and navigation history were available. - Copied new bookmarks from the "new profile" to the main one, displaying both profiles' history windows side by side (attached img); - but drag-&-drop or copy/paste not workin for History entries, eeerrr!

4. On the new profile: - Installed FEBE add-on - deleted all places.* - started Firefox - launched FEBE and saved history(NewProfile).json

Now the question is, how to import the restored (sqlite) or saved (json) history back into the Main profile? Or to get my fingers back on it? if feasible, thank you.

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Hi kozaki, I don't know why a file that is considered corrupt in one profile would suddenly be considered not corrupt in a different profile. Did you exit out of Firefox and try copying the no-longer-corrupt places.sqlite in place of the new-and-less-useful places.sqlite?

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Hi Daniel1234, if you want to see what files are in your Restore Points, there is a utility program named System Restore Explorer that says it can do that on XP as well as newer versions:

There may be other techniques as well.

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@kozaki, No not a problem at all for asking, I dont think your question was unrelated at all. I just wish I could be of some help to you but honestly I have no experience at all in this regard, glad that jscher2000 is helping you out.

@jscher2000, Thank you so much for the reply, I had a quick question for you if you dont mind. In the utility program System Restore Explorer you told me it can do that on XP and newer versions, sorry I got a little confused, what exactly can be done on XP and newer versions, you mean the browsing history would be restored on XP? Thanks.

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Hi Daniel1234, regarding System Restore Explorer, what this would allow is to see whether older versions of Firefox settings file were captured by a Restore Point. In newer versions of Windows, the profile folder is covered (not everything I assume, but various files), but that might not have been the case on Windows XP, so the idea would be to look for places.sqlite using that tool and see if you find any.

If you do, it raises a different issue, which is how you might use it. Since some time has passed, you might not want to lose the last week of history to restore an older file.

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Hi Daniel and jscher2000, thank you.

@jscher2000, actually FF's Main profile places.sqlite when copied on the new, blank profile, shows up only once. Then on next FF(blank) restart it gets renamed to places.sqlite.corrupt and all of history + bookmarks are gone to the Moon or somewhere (forgot to say this in my first post above).

@Daniel what I'm gonna do now is entirely similar to the way jscher2000 proposed you to do: I'll copy over a places.sqlite backup from before it got "mad" on the Main profile: loosing a couple of days of history is ok to me if allows to keep all the navigation history from before. Also I copied yesterday's bookmarks in my blank profile, only to copy them back on the main one if first operation works as intended.

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Alas, all backed up places.sqlite I have (from up to 9 days ago) are also "corrupted" (says Places Maintenance) and regenerated the next time I run Firefox --loosing the whole history! Also Firefox refused to import history.json that I saved with FEBE (note: this file's content looks good to me).

That looks like farewell Navigation History :{

There might be a way to auto-launch Places Maintenance on a regular basis to limit these database issues that crashes into our workflows anytime? I want no more "places.sqlite corrupted; will be regenerated making you loose your whole navigation history --and spending your evening on it with no result even with backups"!

ps: using Sync on Main Profile. @Daniel do you also use it?

Modified by kozaki

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If you would want to restore a very old version of places.sqlite then you might need to install the Firefox version that used this file. There are sometimes version changes to SQLite that are handled automatically by migration code if you update. Using an old version with the current release could be the cause of the corrupt messages.

All Firefox releases:

Best is to install an older version via a custom install in its own program folder and make sure not to start Firefox after the installation has finished. Use the Profile Manager to create a new profile and copy tje places.sqlite file to that folder. Make sure that there are no other places.sqlite files left (sqlite-wal and sqlite-shm).

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@kozaki, sorry for the late reply. I actually do not use Firefox Sync, however I think I should probably consider starting to use Firefox Sync, actually I was told that using Firefox Sync can sync your history between 2 profiles of Firefox, I use version 3.6(the old one) and whatever the current release is, it keeps updating by itself, right now I'm using firefox 36.0.4 as I thin thats the current release. I noticed though that once I got to Firefox 36, I can no longer use both Firefox releases together and have history saved onto their, the history would all delete itself once I started using the new release after the old release.Before I could use both releases and the browsing history would remain, in fact the browsing history from one Firefox release was on the other one too and it was all on the same profile but once Firefox 36 came around, the browsing history is no longer staying saved between the 2 releases, this is why I had to create another profile, one for each Firefox release.(I have 2 profiles since I use 2 releases) The only downside to this is, my browsing history that I have when I use one of the releases is not saved on the other one but at least the history is saving now, so I think Firefox Sync is the solution to sync the history between the 2 Firefox profiles, the problem I had is that similar to the one you were having?

@jscher2000, thank you so much for your reply regarding the System Restore explorer, it helped a lot. I had a quick question though if you don't mind, I probably should already know this by now what exactly is a places.sqlite file? Is it something that stores the Firefox history and what is a corrupt places.sqlite file? Thanks so much for your help.

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places.sqlite is a database file containing history and bookmark data. Unlike what you might expect from looking at the data on screen, places.sqlite contains numerous separate tables that Firefox queries in order to construct those lists. For example, one table contains site addresses, another contains the dates and times of your visits to those sites, another contains the descriptions of bookmarks linked to the table of sites for those that you've bookmarked, then there are tags for your bookmarks, it goes on and on.

Corruption occurs when there is a glitch in updating the database and in that case queries do not return the correct results -- the results may be some, all, or scrambled.

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These can't get your data back, but will help in the future.

These add-ons can be a great help by backing up and restoring Firefox

FEBE (Firefox Environment Backup Extension) {web link} FEBE allows you to quickly and easily backup your Firefox extensions, history, passwords, and more. In fact, it goes beyond just backing up -- It will actually rebuild your saved files individually into installable .xpi files. It will also make backup of files that you choose.

OPIE {web link} Import/Export extension preferences

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Hope Daniel recoverd his history

As for me, well I couldn't find how to import history into the Firefox profile that has the rebuilt places.sqlite (and all history gone) using FEBE. Tried with setting "Export History" which produced an ampty file.html :/ Note @FredMcD otherwise FEBE's a valuable extension for sure.

The whole history is displayed the first time I run Firefox after I copy/paste the former places.sqlite into a new profile. But how to import it into the Firefox profile that has the rebuilt places.sqlite is yet beyond my reach.

Do you know how to extract the history table from the former places.sqlite and import it into the rebuilt one? eg manualy?

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First, create the new profile. Then open your file browser to the main folder where the backup folders are kept. Select the folder you want to use for the backup. Look for the FEBE?????.xpi file. Open the new Firefox. now select the febe, and any other .xpi file you need to install now, and drag them into the Firefox window.

Note: some add-ons you should do now are things like tool-bars, and anything special.

Once these files are in Firefox, close the browser. You may get a message that FF needs to re-start. That what you want to do.

Open FF again. If you don't see the Febe icon, type about:customizing <enter> in the address bar, and put the icon wherever you want.

Go back to your home page. Then press the arrow on the Febe icon. Select Restore, and go on from there.

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Hi kozaki, you can overwrite the newer places.sqlite with an older one, but I am not aware of any way to merge their contents.

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You can merge, but only with files saved as HTML.

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Thank you guys for your patience. Tried Recovering navigation/browsing history another time

- Firefox's default "Backup Bookmarks": does NOT save History.

- FEBE Used two profiles and two places.sqlite (one with valuable History, one with my bookmarks up to this day). BEWARE, is not for the mad guy.

  • From the Firefox profile with past months history showing up (only once, details above) after copying old places.sqlite:
  1. FEBE » Backup: History --» .json file
  2. then restarted (history's gone), Tools » FEBE » Restore ... Navigation History: All is there, Fine :)
  • From Firefox Main profile: Installed FEBE. it didn't work as expected (add-on conflict I guess: FEBE did not show in Tools as Firefox became resource hungry as a werewolf; uninstalled) :
  1. closed any Firefox's profile
  2. saved places.sqlite
  3. to play it safe, also saved: bookmarks via Firefox's default "Backup Bookmarks", and session history with add-on 'Session manager'
  4. copied it in the blank profile after deleted places.*
  • From blank profile:
  1. FEBE » Restore History
  2. closed, restarted to check if bookmarks and history are there: yeap!
  3. closed all Firefox's profiles
  • From Firefox Main profile:
  1. deleted places.* in firefox main profile
  2. copied places.sqlite from new profile to the main profile
  3. restarted Firefox, main profile

--> bookmarks ok, NO f*cking history (tried three times)

EDIT: ON SUCCESS. Restarting FF Main profile for the third or fourth time, FEBE was back in here (for reason beyond my reach), and I could import the full history backup made on the blank profile with FEBE. Merging 2 profiles' Browsing History can be achieved using:

- two profiles and Sync
- or SQlite manager add-on:

Use sqlite3 to merge two places.sqlite (History) databases with each other /EDIT

- Chrome:

  • Bookmarks » Import Firefox's History: my (unrelated) firefox-developer's history got imported :} Moved profiles folder out letting only the blank one: Chrome didn't see it -_-

You bet, will try from sqlite3 next time I have another couple of free hours and water for tears.

PS Web History Repository add-on by Ricardo Kawase, Eelco Herder shows that browsing history CAN be exported since, well, it exports it (screenshot) ;)

Modified by kozaki

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