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Two different sets of bookmarks, and I want to make sure the best one wins. How?

  • 17 replies
  • 1 has this problem
  • Last reply by markhammond

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I have different bookmarks sets on my two PCs, one correct (A), the other full of holes and missing files (B). In addition despite being told in the user interface that the PCs synced an hour ago, they haven't.

I try to follow but fall down at the first hurdle:

"Click the menu button Fx57Menu and choose Options. Select the Sync panel. "

But I don't see a Sync panel.

Similarly there are frequent instructions such as:

"On a computer:

   Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Sign in to Sync and follow the instructions to create your account. "

There is no Sign in to Sync on my computer, despite my having logged in to Firefox Sync and being told that my PCs are syncing.


Anyway, assuming that someone can point me in the right direction on this puzzling connundrum, I still have the problem of two very different bookmarks sets, A and B. I don't want B to pollute A, in fact I would like A to overwrite B. How to ensure that happens?

All Replies (17)

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First, sync shares all selected data. Meaning the bookmarks etc are merged together. Any errors would also be shared.

One idea you can try is to move the 'bad' bookmarks, or all of them, into a new folder and call it something like 'errors.'

As to accessing the sync controls, Type about:accounts<enter> in the address bar. [57+]

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OK thanks, but if I just delete the 'bad' set B, will that work?

Yes I can see those controls, but... they don't seem to bear any relationship with what's happening. They tell me sync is taking place, but it isn't. At least B seems not to be syncing, but on A, a folder that I just added and populated has now mysteriously disappeared.

It is very hard to work with a sync system that [a] doesn't have a master interface one can arrange how one wants and then propagate to all PCs, and [B] doesn't have restore points one can return bookmarks to. These are features I was constantly using in Xmarks.

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Anyway I have created an Errors folder on B and moved all bookmarks into it. This seems counter-intuitive to me, but I will do as I am told. In Xmarks the result would be that all bookmarks in A would also be moved into a new Errors folder, which is hardly the desired result.

To repeat, the desired result is to get rid of the bookmarks on B and replace thm by those on A.

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Well, as I feared, all bookmarks in A are now sitting in a folder called 'Errors', which was created on B, but despite that, proper syncing has not taken place, because at level 2 the links and folders in the two sets of bookmarks are completely different.

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matthewmontagupollock said

It is very hard to work with a sync system that [a] doesn't have a master interface one can arrange how one wants and then propagate to all PCs, and [B] doesn't have restore points one can return bookmarks to. These are features I was constantly using in Xmarks.

Sync doesn't have the same features as Xmarks. There is no "master" device, they are all treated equally. There are now restore points; one set of bookmarks is saved, with no backups to "return to".

Sometimes the initial sync take a bit of time to be completed, but over time everything should become synchronized. And once bookmarks make it a device it may take additional time for those bookmarks to become completely sorted. How muck time it takes for all that to happen can vary depending upon the number of bookmarks involved, the hardware specs of the devices involved, and the load on the Sync server will have an impact on that time.

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Yes I get all that. But it is not clear how it actually works. If there are folders on PC A and PC B called: HIGH RISES One has 5 bookmarks The other has 56. Most of the 56 were added later than the 5

What happens?

Does the time in which the bookmarks were put in or deleted matter? Xmarks seemed to take careful account of time, so that if you did something later, it tookk priority.

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If you followed my instruction, this is how each Bookmark Manager should have ended up;

System A: Bookmark Manager > with all bookmarks under it

System B: Bookmark Manager > New Folder 'bad' > move all bookmarks under it

This would give you both sets of bookmarks on both systems. At your convenience, you could then go thru the 'bad' listing and remove bad entries and move good entries to the good folder.

Once you are done, just remove the 'bad' folder.

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Forgive me if I find this explanation a little unclear. Puzzling it through, what I think you may mean is:

System A: Bookmark Manager > with all bookmarks under it

System B: Bookmark Manager > with all bookmarks under it PLUS New Folder 'bad' > copy all bookmarks on B under it also

It seems the hope is the bad folders in System B will be replicated on System A, and the 'good' folder on System A replicated onto System B , so that both PCs end up with two sets of bookmarks, one good, one bad. Is that the expectation?

I am not 100% sure why this should happen. Maybe you are right, but...

As we know, following your original instructions, all bookmarks were moved to New Folder 'Errors' on System B. The result was that System A's bookmarks were also moved to a new folder 'Errors', and although on both machines the bookmarks superficially looked the same at folder level, in fact at link level they were different. So nothing was solved. No merging took place. I got an extra level, 'Errors', which did me no good.

Since then I have removed the 'Errors' folder and returned the bookmarks on both machines to their original state, trusting in the-edmeister's view that in the long term, everything will work out for the best in the best of all possible worlds, i.e., the bookmarks will get merged, and perhaps things will be OK. Or perhaps not.

I am not clear why duplicating all bookmarks on both PCs should produce a better result. It seems possible that System B might end up with two sets of 'bad' bookmarks, and System A with two sets of 'good' bookmarks, or they might all end up in a jumble.

Could you explain the logic of your solution?

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matthewmontagupollock said

System B: Bookmark Manager > with all bookmarks under it PLUS New Folder 'bad' > copy all bookmarks on B under it also

Not what I meant. First, create the 'bad' folder. Then move all the bookmarks into the 'bad' folder.

The result was that System A's bookmarks were also moved to a new folder 'Errors'

That should not have happened. Bookmarks in the root folder on one system should have been copied to the root folder on the other. And so on with any sub-folders.

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Well, that is what did happen. I am a newbie at this system, so I can only observe how it actually works.

It cannot be uncommon to want to join a system with relatively old bookmarks to one with newer, more updated bookmarks, so I am surprised that it is not explicitly dealt with in th Mozilla help files.

Could I detach Computer B from Firefox Sync, destroy all its bookmarks, and re-attach it to Firefox Sync? This might be treated similarly to a new installation of Firefox being attached, which is another alternative, I could simply delete Firefox on System B, delete all folders connected to it, and install afresh a clean Firefox. Presumably the result might be that System A's bookmarks would be spread to System B. However Firefox Sync seems an unpredictable beast, and I worry that it would decide that System B's empty bookmarks are what I want, and remove System A's bookmarks altogether.

These issues, frankly, are common and garden issues, and it is absurd that they are not in a manual somewhere. In my experience XMarks was (until its last year) very good at delivering the result the client actually wanted, even when it must have been complex to code it to do so, and if XMarks didn't, well one just rolled things back to status quo ante.

A superior system, whose passing we all mourn.

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I called for more help. Please wait.

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In another context, the-edmeister suggested beginning thus:

"This is how I recommend you to proceed.

   "Go to Help > Troubleshooting Information = about:support in the URL bar and scroll down to Places Database > Integrity and use the Verify Integrity button to repair the Places database.
   "Do that on each device you intend to connect to Sync.
   "Then create a new Firefox Account and see if Sync works in that account.
   "Don't rush to add the additional devices; it may take some time to get the initial data loaded for each device. "

OK, to refresh. I have two devices. I want System A's bookmarks to over-write those on System B. I am not attached to XMarks, and have not been for a while, nor to Eversync, nor any other sync service.

Plan: Remove both PCs from Firefox Sync Delete all bookmarks on System B Do Places Integrity cleanup as the-edmeister suggests Sign up to a new Firefox Sync account Add System A to my (new) Firefox Sync account Add System B, which now will have no bookmarks, to the new Firefox Sync account

Will System A's bookmarks be replicated onto System B? Or will System B's lack of bookmarks be replicated onto System A? Why should one happen rather than the other? What is the underlying logic of the Firefox Sync system?

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matthewmontagupollock said

Will System A's bookmarks be replicated onto System B? Or will System B's lack of bookmarks be replicated onto System A? Why should one happen rather than the other? What is the underlying logic of the Firefox Sync system?



Initial Sync on each device is set to merge not delete; basic assumption is that adding an additional device is that device is a fresh installation.

To synchronize data across the connected devices.

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Thank you.

But when I ask 'what is the underlying logic of the Firefox Sync system?', I think it is obvious that I am not looking to be told 'to sync'. This was a serious question. Users need to know what gets added, what gets deleted, what the rules are, what are the priorities, whether the system has a memory, etc.

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There is no succinct end user documentation which is worth a damn (IMHO) which would explain the "logic" behind Sync. There's not even an article that explains what Sync does that contains any technical information about what Sync does in total. Seems to be bits & pieces of information to answer specific questions that users have come up with in the support forum.

And I have been told recently that my "concept" or observation about how Sync works is not accurate by a Mozilla developer; no surprise there. I am not a programmer / developer or a computer professional; prior to retiring about 12 years ago I was Master Automotive Technician who owned and operated my own independent mechanical repair shop for 25 years.

As far as Sync goes, I haven't had a use for Sync since Firefox 4.0 was released in March 2011 when Mozilla killed backward compatibility with the add-on version of Weave. My need for Sync died then, the EeePC I was using couldn't handle Firefox 4.0 even with a newer Linux distro. I have only been "playing with it" on and off since then on one solitary device to be able to answer basic questions about using Sync. And I only answer questions here about Sync because there seems to be no one else using Sync or who has the vaguest understanding of it and is able to offer an opinion or contribute to support it. IOW, I am better than no answer at all or an answer from a "contributor" who has never used it at all.

You can try using the Advanced Search feature for this forum - - for answers, but I doubt if you will find a satisfactory answer.

Here's a Mozilla Developer Network "Intro to Sync" article, but that is geared to people looking to develop "for Sync", like creating an add-on to extend Sync features or add new features.

Also check out this Google search for "sync" MDN pages.

Beyond that I just sent a PM to a Mozilla developer who works with Sync development to get you some input from him. Not sure of his hours or how busy he is currently, but I have seen him answer a few questions here recently but not very often.

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Thank you so much!

If a Firefox Sync programmer should take an interest, the thread on the need for better Sync documentation is here:

I have also submitted a request for documentation through the appropriate channels.

Frankly for users the lack of proper documentation is hugely time-wasting and a pain in the rear end

Modified by Matthew Montagu-Pollock

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This is a tricky situation and it's not clear how it arose...

> choose Options. Select the Sync panel.

That doc needs to be updated :( I hope you've since worked out the panel is now named "Firefox Account"

> 'what is the underlying logic of the Firefox Sync system?',

The idea is that there is no "master" - all devices should be the same. So a change on one device should soon end up on another device with items merged as necessary (eg, create a new bookmark on 2 different offline devices, then sync both, and both devices should still end up the same.

This is more complicated than it sounds, but a key detail is that all bookmarks have a unique ID (a "guid") which is shared across all devices. Unfortunately, this means that your initial question is quite dependent on where the bookmarks an A and B first came from.

  • If they are totally unrelated (ie, never been synced before) then deleting all bookmarks on one device then syncing will do what you expect.
  • If they are related (eg, were previously synced but now way out of date, etc) then deleting them on one device - even from a different location on that device - will probably do the wrong thing - the bookmark still carries its unique ID, so as the bookmarks are merged the deletion will be noticed, and noticed that the delete was recent, and so acted on.

Assuming no deletions, that second option should still do the right thing in your scenario - the device you prefer probably has more recent changes, so as sync runs, the "old" device should look more like the "new" device, as any conflicting changes should prefer the most recent.

But this should also happen incrementally - you imply the 2 devices are both connected to sync, but also have quite different bookmarks. In general, this should be "impossible" (I'm not saying it's not true, just saying it *shouldn't* be true ;) - the devices should sync as soon as each is started, so after an old one syncs it should be up to date - they shouldn't get wildly more out of date over time.

So you seem to be in the situation where both are syncing, but have significantly different bookmarks - and that seems to be the crux of the issue here and where things went wrong. There aren't enough details above for me to guess what that might be. has some information you might find useful re error logs etc.

But assuming they are both connected and are both syncing, you could try doing a backup of the bookmarks on the device that's best, then doing a restore on that same device, then let that device complete syncing, then sync the other - a bookmark restore is somewhat special and should force both devices to end up with the same set of bookmarks.

docs are tricky too - unfortunately, dry documentation on the underlying merge strategies does exist but would have been unlikely to have helped you understand how to resolve this specific, uncommon case. There are bugs on file for giving more control when reconnecting "old" devices, but it's not really clear that's what we are dealing with here. We are lacking "advanced" UI for resetting bookmarks and giving power users the control they would like, but we find this doesn't actually help the vast majority of users and instead we focus on trying to avoid getting into these situations in the first place. But yeah, this situation sucks and I'm sorry that we broke for you and that there aren't more obvious ways of getting things back to how they should be.