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How do I restore deleted browsing history and cookies?

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I have Firefox 56 and Windows 7. My computer froze while Firefox and the Library were open and I had to force restart. My browsing history and bookmarks were completely deleted. I restored my bookmarks from a backup, but that didn't restore my browsing history. That history is EXTREMELY important -- I can't bookmark every website I visit, so I need history to return to a site I visited before.

A few days ago I made a copy of my entire Firefox folder from C:/Users/Ellen/AppData/Roaming/Mozilla. Where in that do I find my browsing history and where do I copy them to? I already tried copying the places.sqlite and prefs.js files from the copy into my actual profile but that didn't restore anything that I can see.

At the same time as making that copy, I installed FF56 to replace FF57, so I might have a restore point from then.

I have Firefox 56 and Windows 7. My computer froze while Firefox and the Library were open and I had to force restart. My browsing history and bookmarks were completely deleted. I restored my bookmarks from a backup, but that didn't restore my browsing history. That history is EXTREMELY important -- I can't bookmark every website I visit, so I need history to return to a site I visited before. A few days ago I made a copy of my entire Firefox folder from C:/Users/Ellen/AppData/Roaming/Mozilla. Where in that do I find my browsing history and where do I copy them to? I already tried copying the places.sqlite and prefs.js files from the copy into my actual profile but that didn't restore anything that I can see. At the same time as making that copy, I installed FF56 to replace FF57, so I might have a restore point from then.

Modified by Ellen.

Chosen solution

Hi Ellen:

Troubleshooting Information page

  • Troubleshooting Information is a page in Firefox
  • You only need one of the methods to open the page
  • The "Open Folder" button should open the folder you already know about

I am not familiar with "classic" folders, but that probably involves the appearance of windows and not their paths.

Since as you point out the profile names are partially randomized, I can't give you the specific paths. You can associate:

OLD PROFILE FOLDER:

This is where you copy places.sqlite from.

CURRENT PROFILE FOLDER:

This is where you rename places.sqlite and remove the two journaling files if you find them. While Firefox is fully closed.

Read this answer in context 2

Additional System Details

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Application

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jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
7780 solutions 63369 answers

The places.sqlite database file is the only place that Firefox stores history (other than current/previous session history files containing open and recently closed windows and tabs).

Hopefully you did the file replacement after Firefox exited completely so any pending writes could be completed. Did the file get renamed with the word "corrupted" in the name?

The '''places.sqlite''' database file is the only place that Firefox stores history (other than current/previous session history files containing open and recently closed windows and tabs). Hopefully you did the file replacement after Firefox exited completely so any pending writes could be completed. Did the file get renamed with the word "corrupted" in the name?

Question owner

I did the file replacement while Firefox was open. All the tabs I have open were also open when I made that backup so they would have been in the history. I just refreshed them all just in case.

I don't understand the second question. I didn't rename any files. I searched the (folder with the long gobbledygoop name) in the profile folder and the one in the copied/backup folder, and neither contains anything with "corrupted" in its name.

What is the file path for the specific places.sqlite file that I should replace (within each Firefox folder) ? When I did the Windows search for it, it was found in (the folder with really long funky name) in Copy of Firefox/Profiles

I did the file replacement while Firefox was open. All the tabs I have open were also open when I made that backup so they would have been in the history. I just refreshed them all just in case. I don't understand the second question. I didn't rename any files. I searched the (folder with the long gobbledygoop name) in the profile folder and the one in the copied/backup folder, and neither contains anything with "corrupted" in its name. What is the file path for the specific '''places.sqlite''' file that I should replace (within each Firefox folder) ? When I did the Windows search for it, it was found in (the folder with really long funky name) in Copy of Firefox/Profiles

Modified by Ellen.

jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
7780 solutions 63369 answers

Helpful Reply

Hi Ellen, to be sure it's your current profile, you can open it from the Troubleshooting Information page. Either:

  • "3-bar" menu button > "?" button > Troubleshooting Information
  • (menu bar) Help > Troubleshooting Information
  • type or paste about:support in the address bar and press Enter

In the first table on the page, click the "Open Folder" button. This should launch a new window listing various files and folders in Windows Explorer.

Leaving that window open, switch back to Firefox and Exit, either:

  • "3-bar" menu button > "power" button
  • (menu bar) File > Exit

Pause while Firefox finishes its cleanup, then rename places.sqlite to something like OLDplaces.sqlite. If you see a file named places.sqlite-shm or places.sqlite-wal, remove those.

Then you can copy the old places.sqlite file into that folder.

Hi Ellen, to be sure it's your current profile, you can open it from the Troubleshooting Information page. Either: * "3-bar" menu button > "?" button > Troubleshooting Information * (menu bar) Help > Troubleshooting Information * type or paste about:support in the address bar and press Enter In the first table on the page, click the "Open Folder" button. This should launch a new window listing various files and folders in Windows Explorer. Leaving that window open, switch back to Firefox and Exit, either: * "3-bar" menu button > "power" button * (menu bar) File > Exit Pause while Firefox finishes its cleanup, then rename '''places.sqlite''' to something like OLDplaces.sqlite. If you see a file named places.sqlite-shm or places.sqlite-wal, remove those. Then you can copy the old places.sqlite file into that folder.

Question owner

I am sorry, I unfortunately need more detailed step-by-step information. I don't understand which folders or files you are talking about -- please specify the file paths. I am afraid to try to do things without understanding fully.


I have a current profile in Computer/C/Users/Ellen/AppData/Roaming/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/(long name) . I have a copy of the old profile in Desktop/Firefox prefs/Copy of Firefox/Profiles/(long name) . Each of these has more subfolders.

In what specific place (file path, or Firefox browser) is "Help>Troubleshooting Information" available? I looked into both (folders with long names) and "Troubleshooting Information" is not under either Help menu. I am using the Windows Classic folders, not Aero.

Help>Troubleshooting Information is available in Firefox (the browser) but does not contain the words "about:support" on that page. However "about:support" is already in its url bar. I did click "Open Folder" and it showed me the Computer/C/Users/Ellen/AppData/Roaming/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/(long name) folder.

Was opening the folder in that way all I need to be sure it's my current profile folder?


Rename the places.sqlite in which specific folder?

Remove places.sqlite-shm & places.sqlite-wal from which specific folder?

Copy places.sqlite from what specific folder into what other specific folder?

I am sorry, I unfortunately need more detailed step-by-step information. I don't understand which folders or files you are talking about -- please specify the file paths. I am afraid to try to do things without understanding fully. I have a current profile in Computer/C/Users/Ellen/AppData/Roaming/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/(long name) . I have a copy of the old profile in Desktop/Firefox prefs/Copy of Firefox/Profiles/(long name) . Each of these has more subfolders. In what specific place (file path, or Firefox browser) is "Help>Troubleshooting Information" available? I looked into both (folders with long names) and "Troubleshooting Information" is not under either Help menu. I am using the Windows Classic folders, not Aero. Help>Troubleshooting Information is available in Firefox (the browser) but does not contain the words "about:support" on that page. However "about:support" is already in its url bar. I did click "Open Folder" and it showed me the Computer/C/Users/Ellen/AppData/Roaming/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/(long name) folder. Was opening the folder in that way all I need to be sure it's my current profile folder? Rename the places.sqlite in which '''specific''' folder? Remove places.sqlite-shm & places.sqlite-wal from which '''specific''' folder? Copy places.sqlite from what '''specific''' folder into what other '''specific''' folder?

Modified by Ellen.

jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
7780 solutions 63369 answers

Chosen Solution

Hi Ellen:

Troubleshooting Information page

  • Troubleshooting Information is a page in Firefox
  • You only need one of the methods to open the page
  • The "Open Folder" button should open the folder you already know about

I am not familiar with "classic" folders, but that probably involves the appearance of windows and not their paths.

Since as you point out the profile names are partially randomized, I can't give you the specific paths. You can associate:

OLD PROFILE FOLDER:

This is where you copy places.sqlite from.

CURRENT PROFILE FOLDER:

This is where you rename places.sqlite and remove the two journaling files if you find them. While Firefox is fully closed.

Hi Ellen: ''Troubleshooting Information page'' * Troubleshooting Information is a page in Firefox * You only need one of the methods to open the page * The "Open Folder" button should open the folder you already know about I am not familiar with "classic" folders, but that probably involves the appearance of windows and not their paths. Since as you point out the profile names are partially randomized, I can't give you the specific paths. You can associate: OLD PROFILE FOLDER: This is where you copy places.sqlite from. CURRENT PROFILE FOLDER: This is where you rename places.sqlite and remove the two journaling files if you find them. ''While Firefox is fully closed.''

Question owner

It worked ... at first.

And then I closed Firefox (in the normal way), and when I opened it again, my history was all deleted again! But this time my bookmarks were not deleted.

Why is Firefox automatically deleting all my History? In my options I have it set to "remember my browsing and download history"

Is it because before closing I restored my bookmarks from a more recent backup? But why would restoring a bookmark backup delete all my history?

It worked ... at first. And then I closed Firefox (in the normal way), and when I opened it again, my history was all deleted again! But this time my bookmarks were not deleted. Why is Firefox automatically deleting all my History? In my options I have it set to "remember my browsing and download history" Is it because before closing I restored my bookmarks from a more recent backup? But why would restoring a bookmark backup delete all my history?

Modified by Ellen.

jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
7780 solutions 63369 answers

Ellen. said

It worked ... at first. And then I closed Firefox (in the normal way), and when I opened it again, my history was all deleted again! But this time my bookmarks were not deleted. Why is Firefox automatically deleting all my History? In my options I have it set to "remember my browsing and download history" Is it because before closing I restored my bookmarks from a more recent backup? But why would restoring a bookmark backup delete all my history?

I don't know the answers to your questions. It's not what I would expect to happen. Other users of the bookmark restore feature haven't reported losing all their history. And I guess you didn't lose all your history immediately after restoring bookmarks, but either at shutdown, while Firefox was closed or at the next startup.

Do you have any history-related add-ons? Do you have any utility or cleaning programs that touch browser data? These may include Advance SystemCare or CCleaner.

''Ellen. [[#answer-1044348|said]]'' <blockquote> It worked ... at first. And then I closed Firefox (in the normal way), and when I opened it again, my history was all deleted again! But this time my bookmarks were not deleted. Why is Firefox automatically deleting all my History? In my options I have it set to "remember my browsing and download history" Is it because before closing I restored my bookmarks from a more recent backup? But why would restoring a bookmark backup delete all my history? </blockquote> I don't know the answers to your questions. It's not what I would expect to happen. Other users of the bookmark restore feature haven't reported losing all their history. And I guess you didn't lose all your history immediately after restoring bookmarks, but either at shutdown, while Firefox was closed or at the next startup. Do you have any history-related add-ons? Do you have any utility or cleaning programs that touch browser data? These may include Advance SystemCare or CCleaner.

Question owner

I did not shut down or restart my computer in between. All I did was close Firefox and open it again... nothing else. (But I will have to be able to shut down my computer again eventually, of course.)

I do not have Ccleaner or Advance SystemCare. My only addons are an appearance one named Space, NoScript, and AddblockPlus, which have no reason to touch my history. Searching "clean" only turns up a utility called Disk Cleanup.

I tried the whole procedure again, without doing any bookmark restoration. The same thing happened again. When I first opened Firefox immediately after copying places.sqlite, my history was all there and the urls functioned.

But when I closed Firefox (using the upper right hand X) and then immediately opened it again, my history was all erased again.

Should I try again, and copy also the "journaling files" from the old profile folder? Both the ones you named are in that copy.

I did not shut down or restart my computer in between. All I did was close Firefox and open it again... nothing else. (But I will have to be able to shut down my computer again eventually, of course.) I do not have Ccleaner or Advance SystemCare. My only addons are an appearance one named Space, NoScript, and AddblockPlus, which have no reason to touch my history. Searching "clean" only turns up a utility called Disk Cleanup. I tried the whole procedure again, without doing any bookmark restoration. The same thing happened again. When I first opened Firefox immediately after copying places.sqlite, my history was all there and the urls functioned. But when I closed Firefox (using the upper right hand X) and then immediately opened it again, my history was all erased again. Should I try again, and copy also the "journaling files" from the old profile folder? Both the ones you named are in that copy.

Modified by Ellen.

jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
7780 solutions 63369 answers

I don't think you need to copy the journaling files but I've never tested whether that makes any difference.

If there is a setting causing this, it should not be a factor in a new profile, so you could try testing that. This will create a new semi-randomly-named folder also under

c:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles

Since you choose the profile name, you can keep it distinct from the current one.

New Profile Test

This takes about 5 minutes, plus the time to test whether history survives a restart.

(1) Inside Firefox, type or paste about:profiles in the address bar and press Enter/Return to load it.

Click the Create a New Profile button, then click Next. Assign a name like TEST, ignore the option to relocate the profile folder, and click the Finish button.

Leave this page open.

(2) Copy the old places.sqlite database into the new profile folder.

(3) Back in Firefox, scroll down to the new profile and click the Set as default profile button below that profile, then scroll back up and click the Restart normally button. (There are some other buttons, but please ignore them.)

Firefox should exit and then start up using the new profile, which will just look brand new. If Firefox asks about allowing extensions, skip over those for now.

Does Firefox retain history in the new profile?

You can restore your bookmark backup to this profile, but it's a little harder because they won't be listed by date on the Restore menu, you'll need to use Choose File and navigate Firefox to your regular profile, into the bookmarkbackups folder (or copy a backup from there to a convenient location such as Desktop or Documents).

(4) When you are done with the experiment, open the about:profiles page again, click the Set as default profile button for your normal profile, then click the Restart normally button to get back to it.

I don't think you need to copy the journaling files but I've never tested whether that makes any difference. If there is a setting causing this, it should not be a factor in a new profile, so you could try testing that. This will create a new semi-randomly-named folder also under c:\Users\''username''\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles Since you choose the profile name, you can keep it distinct from the current one. '''New Profile Test''' This takes about 5 minutes, plus the time to test whether history survives a restart. (1) Inside Firefox, type or paste '''about:profiles''' in the address bar and press Enter/Return to load it. Click the Create a New Profile button, then click Next. Assign a name like TEST, ignore the option to relocate the profile folder, and click the Finish button. Leave this page open. (2) Copy the old places.sqlite database into the new profile folder. (3) Back in Firefox, scroll down to the new profile and click the '''Set as default profile''' button below that profile, then scroll back up and click the '''Restart normally''' button. (There are some other buttons, but please ignore them.) Firefox should exit and then start up using the new profile, which will just look brand new. If Firefox asks about allowing extensions, skip over those for now. ''Does Firefox retain history in the new profile?'' You can restore your bookmark backup to this profile, but it's a little harder because they won't be listed by date on the Restore menu, you'll need to use Choose File and navigate Firefox to your regular profile, into the bookmarkbackups folder (or copy a backup from there to a convenient location such as Desktop or Documents). (4) When you are done with the experiment, open the about:profiles page again, click the '''Set as default profile''' button for your normal profile, then click the '''Restart normally''' button to get back to it.

Question owner

Oh no Now it's more broken than ever before! It automatically updated to Firefox 57 which ruins all my extensions and addons.

I can't use 57 at all it ruins and breaks everything! It's incompatible with all adblockers and every other addon and with all my settings. I can only use 56, but the new profile automatically updates without permission and I can't stop it!

Even if I find out how to get 56 reinstalled it will instantly update again!

How do I make it unable to update?

Oh no Now it's more broken than ever before! It automatically updated to Firefox 57 which ruins all my extensions and addons. I can't use 57 at all it ruins and breaks everything! It's incompatible with all adblockers and every other addon and with all my settings. I can only use 56, but the new profile automatically updates without permission and I can't stop it! Even if I find out how to get 56 reinstalled it will instantly update again! How do I make it unable to update?

Modified by Ellen.

jscher2000
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7780 solutions 63369 answers

But, what about the history part?

To return to Firefox 56, you can:

(1) Get an installer for Firefox 56.0.2 from this article:

Install an older version of Firefox

(2) Disconnect from the internet and run the installer. Do not start Firefox automatically at the end of the installation.

(3) Start Firefox directly into the Profile Manager using either:

  • Run dialog (Windows key + R)
  • Start menu search box

Type or paste firefox.exe -P and press Enter to execute it.

Then select your old profile and Start Firefox.

(4) Reconnect to the internet.

But, what about the history part? To return to Firefox 56, you can: (1) Get an installer for Firefox 56.0.2 from this article: [[Install an older version of Firefox]] (2) Disconnect from the internet and run the installer. Do not start Firefox automatically at the end of the installation. (3) Start Firefox directly into the Profile Manager using either: * Run dialog (Windows key + R) * Start menu search box Type or paste '''firefox.exe -P''' and press Enter to execute it. Then select your old profile and Start Firefox. (4) Reconnect to the internet.

Question owner

It appeared to restore the history urls but they look different: they lost the icon-images next to each url so it became very very difficult to read or find urls. I didn't get a chance to test if any of them worked.

How do I make it totally unable to update so it won't instantly update again after I install 56?

I tried to follow this: "Important: By default, Firefox is set for automatic updates. To prevent Firefox from automatically updating itself after you install an older version, you'll need to change your Firefox update settings: Click the menu button Fx57Menu and choose Options. In the General panel, go to the Firefox Updates section. "

Is it enough to click on "Never check for updates"  ?

Also that website says ESR is more secure than 56 but that switching to it will probably delete all my browsing history and cause things to break.

It appeared to restore the history urls but they look different: they lost the icon-images next to each url so it became very very difficult to read or find urls. I didn't get a chance to test if any of them worked. How do I make it totally unable to update so it won't instantly update again after I install 56? I tried to follow this: "Important: By default, Firefox is set for automatic updates. To prevent Firefox from automatically updating itself after you install an older version, you'll need to change your Firefox update settings: Click the menu button Fx57Menu and choose Options. In the General panel, go to the Firefox Updates section. " Is it enough to click on "Never check for updates" ? Also that website says ESR is more secure than 56 but that switching to it will probably delete all my browsing history and cause things to break.

Modified by Ellen.

jscher2000
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7780 solutions 63369 answers

Hi Ellen, I use the setting to ask me about updating. I have been snoozing Firefox 57 for a while.*

People report a mixture of experiences with other settings. I have not paid close attention to those threads.

* Once NoScript stabilizes and I have time to do a parallel installation of Firefox 57 and the ESR release, then I will update. I have been testing Firefox 59 on this computer and Firefox 57 on other computers so I can reply to questions.

My expectation with ESR is that it will read my current places.sqlite database but I haven't tested it.

One time I accidentally downloaded the update in a test profile. Before restarting Firefox, I deleted an update folder which was somewhere under here:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Mozilla\Firefox

Hi Ellen, I use the setting to ask me about updating. I have been snoozing Firefox 57 for a while.* People report a mixture of experiences with other settings. I have not paid close attention to those threads. ''*'' Once NoScript stabilizes and I have time to do a parallel installation of Firefox 57 and the ESR release, then I will update. I have been testing Firefox 59 on this computer and Firefox 57 on other computers so I can reply to questions. My expectation with ESR is that it will read my current places.sqlite database but I haven't tested it. One time I accidentally downloaded the update in a test profile. Before restarting Firefox, I deleted an update folder which was somewhere under here: C:\Users\''username''\AppData\'''Local'''\Mozilla\Firefox

Question owner

OK, so I tried to restore FF56 and it says it is now 56.0.2 (64-bit). But, I could not get it to open directly into the Profiles page. I think I didn't correctly memorize the instructions for doing that.

To get the profiles page opened correctly, Do I need to create a new test profile, or reinstall 56, or what?

OK, so I tried to restore FF56 and it says it is now 56.0.2 (64-bit). But, I could not get it to open directly into the Profiles page. I think I didn't correctly memorize the instructions for doing that. To get the profiles page opened correctly, Do I need to create a new test profile, or reinstall 56, or what?

Modified by Ellen.

jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
7780 solutions 63369 answers

If you mean the method using Run or the Start menu search box, all existing Firefox windows need to be closed.

If you mean the about:profiles method, it should work without any special actions.

If you mean the method using Run or the Start menu search box, all existing Firefox windows need to be closed. If you mean the '''about:profiles''' method, it should work without any special actions.

Question owner

OK. Also I just realized that I installed 56 while still connected to the internet. Will that have messed anything up? So far it has stayed on the no updates setting.

If not, should I proceed to close everything, run firefox.exe -P, and then return to the instructions for testing the new profile?

OK. Also I just realized that I installed 56 while still connected to the internet. Will that have messed anything up? So far it has stayed on the ''no updates'' setting. If not, should I proceed to close everything, run firefox.exe -P, and then return to the instructions for testing the new profile?
jscher2000
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7780 solutions 63369 answers

It sounds stable. However, before testing your new profile that will auto-update, you would need to disconnect.

It sounds stable. However, before testing your ''new'' profile that will auto-update, you would need to disconnect.

Question owner

From your instructions and other instructions online I was able to disable automatic updates (so far staying that way...). So I am on the new Profile.

It still shows the history from past months, although still without the image-icons, so it's very difficult to read. I will now continue with the instructions you gave and then edit this post.

EDIT: So, now I am open in the regular profile. I how have 2 profiles,

NORMAL profile which has all my settings, addons, extensions, and bookmarks, but no history and always deletes the history despite the settings saying not to delete it.

TEST profile which appears to keep the history and bookmarks, but has none of my settings, addons, or extensions.

So... now what? Is there a way to copy over the Normal settings and extensions and addons into the Test profile, or the places.sqlite into the Normal profile, without the history getting deleted again?

And is there a way to restore the history to the way it used to look, with the website-specific icons next to the urls so it's more readable?

From your instructions and other instructions online I was able to disable automatic updates (so far staying that way...). So I am on the new Profile. It still shows the history from past months, although still without the image-icons, so it's very difficult to read. I will now continue with the instructions you gave and then edit this post. EDIT: So, now I am open in the regular profile. I how have 2 profiles, NORMAL profile which has all my settings, addons, extensions, and bookmarks, but '''no''' history and always deletes the history despite the settings saying not to delete it. TEST profile which appears to keep the history and bookmarks, but has none of my settings, addons, or extensions. So... now what? Is there a way to copy over the Normal settings and extensions and addons into the Test profile, or the places.sqlite into the Normal profile, without the history getting deleted again? And is there a way to restore the history to the way it used to look, with the website-specific icons next to the urls so it's more readable?

Modified by Ellen.

jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
7780 solutions 63369 answers

The icons associated with sites might be stored in the cache, so that may be very difficult to bring over. You could search for other threads on that.

What I think the test demonstrates is that there is some setting or add-on in your regular profile causing the history problem. But I don't have a clear idea of what to check other than what we have checked before.

You could rename your prefs.js file (to OLDprefs.js) in your regular profile folder to reset preferences (while Firefox is closed), but you'll need to go offline because one of those preferences is your update setting.

I'm going offline so you might wait for other suggestions.

The icons associated with sites might be stored in the cache, so that may be very difficult to bring over. You could search for other threads on that. What I think the test demonstrates is that there is some setting or add-on in your regular profile causing the history problem. But I don't have a clear idea of what to check other than what we have checked before. You ''could'' rename your '''prefs.js''' file (to OLDprefs.js) in your regular profile folder to reset preferences (while Firefox is closed), but you'll need to go offline because one of those preferences is your update setting. I'm going offline so you might wait for other suggestions.
cor-el
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16606 solutions 149960 answers

Did you check the "Clear history when Firefox closes" settings to make sure that you aren't clearing the browsing history?

To see all History and Cookie settings, choose:

Was Firefox running when you created your backup?

Note that you always need to make sure that Firefox isn't running when you replace or modify files in the Firefox profile folder.

Safest to close Firefox are these:

  • "3-bar" menu button -> Exit (Power button)
  • Windows: File -> Exit
Did you check the "Clear history when Firefox closes" settings to make sure that you aren't clearing the browsing history? To see all History and Cookie settings, choose: *Options/Preferences -> Privacy & Security -> Firefox will: "Use custom settings for history" *https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/Options+window+-+Privacy+panel Was Firefox running when you created your backup? Note that you always need to make sure that Firefox isn't running when you replace or modify files in the Firefox profile folder. Safest to close Firefox are these: *"3-bar" menu button -> Exit (Power button) *Windows: File -> Exit