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Bookmarks become duplicated, rearranged, deleted, moved or all the above after every PC cold start.

Posted

Since 8/26/12 in one folder bookmarks and sub-folders either disappeared, were rearranged into other folders or "Unsorted Bookmarks", duplicated, old ones from older Netscape folders appeared in newer Mozilla folders, bookmarks and folders were duplicated but the bookmarks in them were either older ones from the past (see Netscape) or were deleted or all the above. The last Netscape folder (version 8) and the Mozilla one have flipped positions, (the latter used to be above the Netscape one). This occurs after every cold PC start. After several trouble shooting attempts it is now happening in all folders. I have to backup the bookmark file into a separate folder in My Documents as the regular backups all seem to be corrupted in the same way. I even purge the data in SYNC and that has done nothing to resolve this. I have deleted the old bookmarks from Netscape 6/7 and the problems still occurs. Deleting duplicates makes things worse. The Places Maintenance add on worked only 2 consecutive days; It is no longer effective. I have to restore the backup I have made each time I use Fire Fox after a cold start.

Modified by Noah_SUMO

Chosen solution

Did you check all (10) JSON backups in the bookmarkbackups folder to see if any still have uncorrupted bookmarks?

If all your bookmark backups are corrupted then you first need to repair them in a clean and not corrupted places.sqlite file or try to do that via a HTML backup is a suitable HTML editor.

If the corruption always happens after booting the computer then some security software is the most likely cause for this.

You haven't answered which firewall and anti-virus you are using.

Some security software has virtualization or sandbox features that may cause problems by protecting and restoring files in the Firefox profile folder.

Read this answer in context 2

Additional System Details

Installed Plug-ins

  • Shockwave Flash 11.4 r402
  • Adobe PDF Plug-In For Firefox and Netscape "9.5.2"
  • Google Update
  • VLC media player Web Plugin 2.0.2
  • The QuickTime Plugin allows you to view a wide variety of multimedia content in Web pages. For more information, visit the QuickTime Web site.
  • Shockwave Flash 11.2 r202
  • npdnupdater2
  • npdnu
  • 4.1.10329.0
  • NVIDIA 3D Vision Streaming plugin for Mozilla browsers
  • NVIDIA 3D Vision plugin for Mozilla browsers
  • DivX Plus Web Player version 2.2.0.52
  • GEPlugin
  • DivX VOD Helper Plug-in
  • Windows Activation Technologies Plugin for Mozilla
  • NPRuntime Script Plug-in Library for Java(TM) Deploy
  • Motive Plugin for Mozilla Browsers

Application

  • User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:15.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/15.0.1

More Information

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cor-el
  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
10754 solutions 96785 answers

Which security software (firewall, anti-virus) do you have?

Some security software has virtualization or sandbox features that may cause problems by protecting and restoring files in the Firefox profile folder.


You can check for problems with the places.sqlite database file in the Firefox Profile Folder.

You can try to check and repair the places database with this extension:

Question owner

Nothing has worked, but I saw this today: right after I restored the bookmarks file in the Show All Bookmarks folder several bookmarks and sub-folders were moved into the "Unsorted Bookmarks" folder along with bookmarks I had deleted weeks to months (years?) ago; this happened before my eyes. I have re-restored the bookmarks and this has not yet reoccurred. i am contemplating re-installing version 15 on top of the present one to see if this stops this problem. Also "Recently Bookmarked" has sites I have not been to in year as well as recent ones. What can I so? :(

the-edmeister
  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
3197 solutions 24401 answers

closed duplicate thread over here - https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/937002

Are you using Firefox Sync, Xmarks, or CometMarks for synchronizing bookmarks across multiple devices or multiple browsers?

cor-el
  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
10754 solutions 96785 answers

Chosen Solution

Did you check all (10) JSON backups in the bookmarkbackups folder to see if any still have uncorrupted bookmarks?

If all your bookmark backups are corrupted then you first need to repair them in a clean and not corrupted places.sqlite file or try to do that via a HTML backup is a suitable HTML editor.

If the corruption always happens after booting the computer then some security software is the most likely cause for this.

You haven't answered which firewall and anti-virus you are using.

Some security software has virtualization or sandbox features that may cause problems by protecting and restoring files in the Firefox profile folder.

Question owner

I am using Microsoft Essentials for anti virus and malware and windows Firewall in Win7 Pro. I've had them since I upgraded to Win 7 2 years ago and this is the first time I have seen his problem.

Question owner

Yes I am. I have, for the third time, overwritten the data in Sync so that it matches this computer's data. I have also noted that the problem starts with Firefox startup: yesterday I saw it happen before my eyes just as FF started.

FYI - all older backups were deleted before that and all "Places" files were deleted just before what I described above.

Question owner

I have, for the third time, overwritten the data in Sync so that it matches this computer's data. I have also noted that the problem starts with Firefox startup: yesterday I saw it happen before my eyes just as FF started.

FYI - all older backups were deleted before that and all "Places" files were deleted just before what I described above. It has yet to reoccur (24 hours).

I am using Microsoft Essentials for anti virus and Windows Firewall; this has not occurred with these two programs over the 2 years I have had Windows 7 Pro.

Question owner

Ok this last effort seems to have worked as the bookmarks have remained unchanged since I cleared out all but the backup I made and cleared out Synch. The only problem now is Sync does not seem to be working as none of the present bookmarks have been updated on my main laptop. Every time I sync'ed it old bookmarks appeared and whole folders did not transfer over. I have manually transferred the last backup file from this PC to it so that it matches. I know most of the passwords were already there from when this process worked automatically but I am not sure if that is the case now. I will consider the original problem solved.

rnewman@mozilla.com 13 solutions 105 answers

If you can post (or email to me) sync logs from each machine, I expect something obvious will jump out. Take a look at about:sync-log.

neilpalmer400 0 solutions 2 answers

I have seen the same problem, several times (reoccurs after I restore a good bookmark backup). In one bookmark folder alone I now have 4 sub-folders all with the same name (Movies) - each of which contains part of what was once in one folder. I also have 3 sub-folders all named Games now. In another folder I use for technical articles used for work it has rearranged stuff such that I can no longer find it (had a few hundred bookmarks in it, in a LOGICAL order before it screwed them up).

I would say it is down to one of three things:

1) Problem in new Firefox version (I currently have 17.0), but if that was the case I'm sure there would be far more complaints about this.

2) Recently I have had to use System Restore a few times on my laptop to undo some problems caused by some new software installs, BUT the first time I observed this issue (and fixed it by restoring an older bookmarks backup) I had NOT used system restore.

3) I recently installed Firefox on my Android phone and set up Sync. Though I have hardly used Firefox on my phone I have now removed my laptop from Sync and uninstalled Firefox on my phone.


My vote for the cause goes to the #3, the Sync application. I will not be reinstalling Firefox on my phone and will not use Sync again.

neilpalmer400 0 solutions 2 answers

FYI - My bookmarks have NOT been messed up again since I stopped Sync.

rnewman@mozilla.com 13 solutions 105 answers

I would be very confident in saying that Sync is involved.

What you're seeing is not normal — you almost certainly hit some bug in an obscure edge case — but that doesn't help you.

PhredE 0 solutions 11 answers

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Well Hello! from the edge, rnewman. There's at least two of us (ha!) out here having edge difficulties with sync failing and causing disorder and duplicates. Sync is a heavily flawed process in Firefox, it seems to me.

Neil Palmer still has a serious sync issue that has only been solved in his case by not using sync! Not optimal.

Are there any better solutions emerging, or are there tools that will let us dedupe? BTW, that word 'dedupe' is a serious word in the IT world. Faulty data has been being deduped for decades. It's time that Firefox had the function in its stable, IMHO.

(There's also the terror of finding out what a 'sync strategy' in FIrefox is - whether deletes are honoured, whether adds are time-stamped, whether over-writes obtain.... but that's another matter. :( )

rnewman@mozilla.com 13 solutions 105 answers

PhredE:

I don't think anyone's disagreeing that there are both known and unknown deficiencies in Sync. Neither is anyone disagreeing that that's not optimal.

Note, though, that "not optimal" is not enough justification for, say, rewriting the whole thing to fix old bugs that don't affect the vast majority of users: evidence suggests that Sync's reliability is “good enough”, even though as a developer I would prefer to see every edge case nailed down. That's just not how things work when you have hundreds of millions of users.

(Suffice to say that the bookmark code is *way* better than what we inherited from the Weave add-on back in 2009/2010.)

Here I'm primarily concerned with whether I can offer any advice to affected individuals.

If you're not happy with how bookmark sync is working for you, I suggest one of two avenues.

You can turn off bookmark sync (just uncheck the box in Sync preferences), and if your bookmarks were somehow damaged restore from one of the automated bookmark backups).

I don't know exactly why you're having problems — as I mentioned, there are known and probably unknown root causes — so there's really nothing more I can do to make things work for you.

Alternatively you can grab logs from your devices as you reproduce the problem, and file a bug. Either there's some small thing that we can fix (great!), or it's a big thing that we probably already know about, and probably won't fix. At least you'll know.

Note that it doesn't help at all to merely point out “Sync sometimes screws up!”. Yes, we know; most software does. Bookmark sync is very complex, and problems usually involve arcane interactions between multiple devices over time. If you've got a problem that we can help with, we'd be happy to, but otherwise all we can do is say “yup, sorry”.


As to your other questions: things change all the time. We might get a chance to rewrite the bookmarks part of Sync (I have a vague plan sketched in Bug 814801), or there might be other things my team can work on that provide a bigger impact to our users. It would be irresponsible to ignore that.

There might be replacement approaches you can take (I've heard great things about pinboard.in). I personally don't have any problems with bookmark sync across my various devices (and I run Nightly and Aurora across a variety of machines and phones), but I understand that you're probably in a different situation.

A quick search suggests that there are some bookmark de-duping add-ons on addons.mozilla.org; you might find what you're looking for there.

wrt your technical questions:

Sync propagates deletions (timestamped), and additions are timestamped. You're more than welcome to read the source code or the (incomplete) docs if you want to find out the exact approach to record reconciling.

Thanks for your patience.

PhredE 0 solutions 11 answers

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Well, thanks for your kind reply, rnewman. You cover a number of issues well, IIMS.

Somehow, nevertheless, I feel you underestimate the degree of malfunction of sync abroad in the community. Known unknowns, unknown unknowns and all.. Feedback is never perfect, and I suggest that there's a large underestimated cohort of people who either just give up on sync, who have never been recommended sync, or who don't know that sync is failing them.

While I understand that you're addressing a specific problem in this thread, it is a public forum, and its, and my, purpose is to make plain to Mozilla and its developers that there's a bad flaw afoot. A scan of sync complaints in this (bizarrely hard to find) forum will tell you that a large number of people who have the wit and facility to bring it up are thumping their heads in frustration with sync troubles.

I understand, too, that not every software problem can be solved, the art that coding is, but sync is a fairly prominent, and promoted, feature of Firefox. Until the forums have the vast majority of complaints satisfactorily answered, and the complaint-rate greatly diminished, I don't believe it's received nearly sufficient priority.

I'd like to suggest that you gird your loins with a bit of research and sneak into the next update some code that checks the integrity of sync: after executing a sync perform a couple of 'common sense', 'does it look right', checks, like counting the number of bookmarks in source and target, doing an MD5 on the data sets and compare, a quick scan for illegal characters. Collate the data. I fear you'll find that of those using sync there are more errors than you imagine. Too often I see misplaced contentment in some kind of autistic glee on the part of programmers that their code is functional, comprehensive, efficient and elegant and that it lies in an arcane realm far beyond the intellectual capacity of other mortals: it will do, just fine, thank you very much. Much too often. (A comment not directed at you in any way at all, BTW.)

The trouble with some of your fixes is that sync spontaneously stopped, and I didn't notice. I went on, adding and deleting bookmarks, until, by chance, I noticed that there was no sync. Now I'm back where sync never existed, as it were. Multiple disparate datasets. I suspect I'm not alone.

Yes, I could delve into the dedupe addons available, but that's a small project in itself. Quarantining data and experimenting with test data, collecting suitable test tools - and doing it each time until I feel I have found a suitable and reliable addition. But, somehow, I do believe that responsibility devolves upward toward Mozilla, to make a reliable, fixable, prominent function. I like to use Firefox as much as I can so that revenue flows your way, but when flaws like these persist..

I will look at pinboard; thanks.


And there's the utterly mesmerising behaviour of Firefox immediately going off to the sky-sync database whenever a bookmark is touched with even the simplest single write, every time taking 15-20 seconds to give control back to the GUI. Touch, wait...wait...wait...wait... Sheesh. Chrome doesn’t do it... (I generally disable my LAN port when I reorganise.  ! )

Thanks for your efforts.