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My browsing history + favicons are gone after an old version of FF started

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  • 1 has this problem
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  • Last reply by berroz

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Hi all,

first I'd like to mention that I've read many other threads related to this problem, and I now have a good understand of what exactly happened. I hope this will help resolve the issue.

I was trying to join a Zoom meeting, something happened as I was following a link which triggered an old version of Firefox to start, which I didn't even know existed on my PC (FF 30-something). I have the latest FF 81

So that old FF caused my primary FF to close. After I closed that old one and reopened the primary browser, all my browsing history was gone. That's about 5 years of history. Plus all favicons. However bookmarks were intact, as well as addons. But I was logged out of all websites I normally use, although I could see all cookies are still there.

When I checked the places.sqlite file in my profile folder, its size was 5MB, and so was the size of the favicons.sqlite file. I have backups of these files from a year ago, and their sizes are 78MB and 53MB respectively, so I knew something had caused my original files to be deleted or reset.

Now my question is simply: how can I restore the places and favicons (this one's not important) files that were apparently deleted/replaced?

I'll be very thankful for any tip

Note: there is a places.sqlite.corrupt file which size is 10MB, so it definitely isn't the original one

All Replies (5)

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Note2: the incident didn't create a new profile

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Sorry to hear about this unusual problem.

While Firefox is fully shut down, you can replace places.sqlite and favicons.sqlite with older files and Firefox should use those at the next startup. But first, it's worth:

(A) Making a fresh bookmark backup

It seems like a bit of a miracle that your latest bookmarks were restored to the new Places database. You might create a fresh backup so you have that handy to "catch up" the bookmarks in any any older Places database you copy into the folder.

(B) Checking for more recent copies of the files

During updates, and at other times, Windows may capture a snapshot of your Firefox profile folder in a Shadow Copy. You can use a utility program to search inside restore points to try to locate an old file that's usable. (Please do NOT try to use the built-in Windows System Restore for this because you probably would lose data.)

First, set Windows to show hidden files and folders: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/14201/windows-show-hidden-files

Then download and run one of these two programs:

Within the most recent restore point shown in the program, you can explore along this path to see whether you can find a shadow copy of your profile:

\Users\your-user-name\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\your-profile

You can export the database files to a convenient location such as your currently live desktop.

Hope this helps.

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jscher2000 said

Sorry to hear about this unusual problem. While Firefox is fully shut down, you can replace places.sqlite and favicons.sqlite with older files and Firefox should use those at the next startup. But first, it's worth: (A) Making a fresh bookmark backup It seems like a bit of a miracle that your latest bookmarks were restored to the new Places database. You might create a fresh backup so you have that handy to "catch up" the bookmarks in any any older Places database you copy into the folder. (B) Checking for more recent copies of the files During updates, and at other times, Windows may capture a snapshot of your Firefox profile folder in a Shadow Copy. You can use a utility program to search inside restore points to try to locate an old file that's usable. (Please do NOT try to use the built-in Windows System Restore for this because you probably would lose data.) First, set Windows to show hidden files and folders: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/14201/windows-show-hidden-files Then download and run one of these two programs: Within the most recent restore point shown in the program, you can explore along this path to see whether you can find a shadow copy of your profile: \Users\your-user-name\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\your-profile You can export the database files to a convenient location such as your currently live desktop. Hope this helps.

Hello jscher2000 , you're the king!!

That shadow tool did recover a places file that's 83MB which dates from a few hours before the incident. When I copied it into my profile folder and reopened firefox however, this file was renamed "corrput" and a fresh places file was created.

I took that file the shadow tool found and tried to run the sqlite method that's described here: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Tech/Places/places.sqlite_Database_Troubleshooting

However sqlite's response upon running PRAGMA integrity_check is: Error: file is not a database I carried on to the next steps, but still got a similar error when trying to clone or get the version

Any idea what else to try?

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It sounds as though either Windows did not capture the file cleanly, or something went wrong in exporting it from the restore point. I don't know of a good way to peer into an 83MB file to see whether it looks like a valid file or has a bunch of garbage (a hex editor, I guess, but for such a huge file, hmm).

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Unfortunately, all attempts to try and recover my history or fix the corrupt place.sqlite failed.

If someone reading this in the future finds a way to do it, please let me know.

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