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Desktop bookmarks jumbled after sync setup with Android

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Every time I set up sync on my Android device, the bookmarks on my Desktop firefox end up jumbled.

I've been using Firefox 10, Beta 11+12 and Aurora 12+13 on my Galaxy Nexus and every time I set up sync, the bookmarks on my desktop Firefox (Win7x64, v. 12 + Beta 13) end up all jumbled. Reordering takes time and nerves, and I wonder if there is way to prevent this.

All Replies (20)

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Could you please explain what you mean by "jumbled"? Do you mean they are moved out of their folders, or something else?

Modified by Nathan2055

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I mean they are moved around. They stay in their respective folders, but inside these (or bookmarks not in folders) are having their order rearranged.

I normally sort them manually, but the new order follows no apparent ordering system. It's a different order every time this happens, too.

Modified by Janzomaster

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I am having what I believe is the same problem. My home computer:

* Win7 x64
* Firefox 13.0.1

My mobile device:

* Verizon Droid RAZR with Android 4.0.4
* Firefox 14.0 

When the phone syncs the bookmarks, a bunch of the bookmarks on the desktop get moved into the "Unsorted Bookmarks" section instead of the "Bookmarks Toolbar" where I store them normally.

Also, they are losing their preferred order.

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Hi, nalexander, Android Sync developer here. We have had a few reports of bookmarks reordering and are scratching our collective heads. What we really need is to be able to reproduce the problem (somewhat) consistently.

Janzomaster, does the reordering happen every time you set up sync on your Android device? If it does, we'd love to get Android Sync logs from you so we can track this down.

kheldar, does reordering always happen? And when it does happen, do you always get bookmarks in the "Unsorted Bookmarks" section? That would be really helpful to know.

Sorry that Android Sync is mucking with your ordering, and thanks for your reports.

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(I always place all of my bookmarks in the "Bookmarks Toolbar" folder so I can use them in the toolbar.)

From the limited troubleshooting I have performed, it looks like the issue is this:

  • The sync is not grabbing all of my folders or bookmarks from my main computer.
  • The sync is then not syncing all the bookmarks to my phone.
  • The next time the phone syncs, it is removing the missing bookmarks from the server copy.
  • The next time the computer syncs, it is moving all of the "missing" bookmarks to the "Unsorted Bookmarks" folder.

To try to narrow down where/when the issue occurs, I just performed the following:

  • Uninstalled Firefox from the phone.
  • Restarted the phone.
  • Performed "sync now" on the computer to update the server contents to the current computer configuration.
  • Reinstalled Firefox on the phone.
  • Set up sync for the phone.
  • Let the phone perform the initial sync, waiting for it to finish.

The following issues cropped up:

  • 2 entire folders of bookmarks did not sync to the device.
  • In most of the other folders, only a few bookmarks (nowhere near the full list) synced to the device, even after 15 minutes. For example, I have a bookmarks folder called "News" with 2 subfolders ("Commentary" and "Phone Stuff"), and 7 bookmarks. Only 2 of those 7 bookmarks synced to the phone. In the "Commentary" folder, only 1 of the 17 bookmarks got synced. In the "Phone Stuff" folder, all 4 synced. Another folder, "Computers" with 23 bookmarks, only 1 synced to the device.

I then performed the following:

  • Performed a sync on the desktop Firefox.
  • Closed desktop Firefox.
  • Performed Sync on the phone (by disabling and re-enabling sync, which forced it to perform another sync). Phone is still missing more than half of the bookmarks.
  • Reopened desktop Firefox, performed a "Sync Now" on the desktop system again, and waited a couple minutes.

Some other observations:

  • The bookmarks that synced to the phone are still on the computer.
  • The bookmarks that did not sync to the phone got relocated to the "unsorted bookmarks" folder the first time, but not on this attempt to re-create the problem.
  • Some bookmarks and folders did get re-arranged on the second attempt, but not as dramatically as on the one that occurred on it's own.

I have attached a couple screenshots:

  • desktop.png: a screenshot of one of my bookmarks folders on my computer.
  • phone-news.png: a screenshot of that same bookmarks folder on my phone 15 minutes after syncing.
  • phone-commentary.png: the phone's subfolder "commentary" which is also visible on the desktop.

These attachments will show the dramatic difference in the bookmark contents of the computer and the phone.

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kheldar, thanks for this great report! It sounds to me like Sync is not able to download enough of your bookmarks data to keep things straight. I'm going to discuss this with my team and we'll get back to you. We'd love to get Android Sync logs from you if you have time to do this whole process again -- look at for logging instructions.

Thanks again!

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A couple points:

  • This issue did not occur on the previous version of Firefox on my phone, but at that time, I was also running Android 2.3.6. I am part of the Verizon Wireless "soak" of Android 4.0.4 on this device currently. I updated the Firefox immediately after installing the Android 4.0.4, so I am not sure if the issue is caused by the new Android version, or the new Firefox version. Also, I'm not sure if my desktop Firefox updated during this time or not.

Also, if I do the steps again and can reproduce the errors and get you the log, is there a way to get you the log without posting it here?

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Hi kheldar,

We're really not sure if Android version matters, but we have no reason to think that it does. Given what you said earlier about incomplete syncs and items ending up in the unsorted folder, my guess is that your wireless connection from Verizon is involved -- but it's a little too early to say.

If you don't mind the logs being public (we work hard to keep Firefox Sync from leaking private information), it's probably easiest for you to gist or pastebin the logs (for example, you could use or another similar site). I understand if you want to keep the logs private, of course -- you could email them to me at nalexander AT mozilla DOT com. Or we could use Google Docs. Whatever works for you!

Thanks again.

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Well, this could be good or bad depending on your viewpoint, 'cuz it fixed the problem, at least temporarily, but doesn't really narrow down what the issue was.

I just performed the following actions on the desktop:
  • Tools -> Options -> Sync
  • Manage Account -> Reset Sync
  • Replace all other devices with this computer's data
  • Click next on the "The following devices will be overwritten...".
  • And waited several minutes for the sync to process (there isn't really a way to tell when the sync is done or is being performed, is there?)

Then on the phone, I performed:

  • Open Firefox.
  • Menu -> Settings -> Sync
  • Selected my Sync account
  • Unchecked & rechecked "Sync Firefox";.
  • Waited for the sync to finish.

All of my desktop bookmarks are now on the phone and the order of the bookmarks on the computer was not impacted. The bookmarks are even in the same order on the phone (bonus!).

So this raises a couple questions:

  • This really does appear to be either an issue with my data connection (interrupted uploads/downloads) on my computer (God bless CenturyLink and their flaky DSL) or my phone (I do occasionally drop from 4G LTE to 3G or lose data connection for a few seconds here and there). Gotta love living in Idaho.
  • I may have closed Firefox on the desktop during the initial sync the first time. Is the Sync program in the same thread, so that if I close Firefox the transfer is interrupted in the middle and only gets some of my bookmarks?
  • Or it is a separate process so that it will continue in the background even if Firefox is closed?
  • If the sync is interrupted, does the server side of things think the sync is complete and remove any bookmarks that didn't get synced during the most recent attempt?

Unfortunately I didn't grab the logs for you during this process either.

Then, out of curiosity, I tested the following:

  • On the phone, deleted a lesser-used bookmark that was previously synced from my computer.
  • On the phone, performed sync again by unchecking/rechecking "Sync Firefox".
  • On the computer, performed "Tools -> Sync Now".
  • The bookmark that I had deleted from the phone was then correctly deleted from the computer, and did not end up in the "Unsorted Bookmarks" section.

If the issue does boil down to a data connection issue, I would have thought that, after the program thinks the sync is complete, it would double-check the results to make sure the server and the computer match before it finishes.

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Sync on desktop only runs if Firefox is running. If you quit half-way through the initial sync, and Android completed a sync before you launched desktop Firefox again, then you could certainly end up with mangled bookmarks — the phone is only seeing a portion of your bookmark records, and it tries to fix the order. When desktop comes to sync it tries to merge the subset back in, and it won't be the same as the order you started with.

Data missing from the server isn't treated as deleted, so you don't need to worry about that, but if a folder isn't present on the server then Sync on Android will move all of the bookmarks that claim to be in that folder to Unsorted Bookmarks, just so they have a place to live.

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So, speaking from the perspective of an amateur programmer, wouldn't you want to pop up an alert when the user is trying to close Firefox, stating "Sync is in progress. Exiting Firefox now may cause bookmarks to not sync correctly. Are you sure you want to exit?" Or at the very least, have some kind of notification on the toolbar that a Sync is in progress. This is a odd oversight.

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Interrupting a sync is usually fine; when you relaunch Firefox it'll take care of things. This kind of race condition is really only an issue if you quit during a large first sync. Subsequent syncs are incremental, and typically take a second or less.

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That's fine, but again, I wouldn't have closed the browser (and therefore messed up the initial sync) if the browser warned me that a sync was in progress. Not having any kind of warning is just asking for trouble. And, as noted by the original poster in this thread, I am not the only one experiencing the issue.

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I'm calmer now. I unpaired my phone and restored my bookmarks from a 2day old back up.

Any idea when this will be fixed?

Modified by Stephina

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Hi everyone, sorry I dropped off for a few days -- rather busy over the Canada Day long weekend.

Kheldar, it doesn't sound like you had an interrupted first sync. Logs would definitely be helpful, but you've already given us a great report that helped rnewman come up with some hypotheses.

Stephina, we really don't know if rnewman's hypotheses are correct but we are actively investigating this. It's tough to reproduce! None of our QA folks have seen this.

I'll try to update with developments.

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From the protocol description that I've read above, in my honest (developer) opinion, there SHOULD exist a setting to allow me to make the bookmark dataset read only for certain devices because it doesn't sound very reliable.

Let's say I configure FF Sync on my PC and I am able to add and remove bookmarks. Afterwards, I want the bookmarks to be available on my mobile device, but only as read only, because I don't really need to add bookmarks from my mobile phone. This setting should be made available as a checkbox, when I click on "Pair a Device" and it should say something like "grant read only access (guarantees that the device won't mess up your bookmarks)" or something like this.

This feature couldn't take that much to develop and it will make all of us happier. At this moment, I refuse to try sync again on my mobile phone, because it already messed up 1000+ bookmarks and I always discover missing stuff when restoring them from backups.

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I have same probelm with missing and reordered bookmarks after sync between 2 desktop PCs and 1 Android tablet. Fix it when restore bookmarks with Xmarks add-on. (Menu - Bookmarks-Xmarks-Xmarks settings-Restore (use 1 day old backup)). But I am wondering which device or something else is guilty for this behavior.

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Hi dragondrago,

nalexander here, Android Sync developer. We've recently made some progressing understanding what might be causing this, and unfortunately it looks like it might happen when you hit Sync's limits. You can see

for some of that investigation. If you can reproduce this, Trace logs for bookmark sync on desktop (see and mobile (see would really help us get to the bottom of this.

Sorry that sync is mucking up your bookmarks :(


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Hi Nick,

Actually, I'm curious if Richard managed to make any progress with this, since we concluded that it might, indeed, be a bug. Basically, Android Sync is trying to download 5000+ items, while I have only 2623 bookmarks in 339 folders. Please see the last 2 replies on bugzilla for details.

Regards, Mihai

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I'm curious as well. The next step will be to check the Android Sync reporting code (it might be double-counting or similar) and for us to test Android Sync against some larger profiles. Not sure when we'll have cycles but it's definitely on our list.