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Manual backup of bookmark json file is empty, export of bookmark html file "self-deletes"

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I'm now using Firefox 17.0.11esr in Win 7 at work and 26.0 in Win XP at home. I tried 24.2.0esr at work, but had to return to the earlier version, because of this problem below, which also happens with my home machine:

I cannot save, manually or automatically, a usable bookmarks json file for use as a backup. The files are always empty.

When I try to export a bookmarks html file, it begins to create and save it, but then "self-deletes" it before it's done.

Why is this a problem with 24.2.0esr and 26.0, but not 17.0.11esr? What can I do about it?


All Replies (12)

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A few thoughts:

(1) Are the automatic backups in the bookmarkbackups folder also empty? You can check your current bookmarkbackups folder as follows:

(A) Open your current Firefox settings (AKA Firefox profile) folder using either:

  • Help > Troubleshooting Information > "Show Folder" button
  • type or paste about:support in the address bar and press Enter > "Show Folder" button

(B) Double-click the bookmarkbackups folder to browse inside it. If you do not already use the details view, you can switch the view so the file sizes are displayed.

(2) I can't think of a reason that Firefox or Windows would delete bookmarks.html. Does it matter what folder you select to save it in?

(3) Do you use the Firefox Sync service between your work and home computers? I'm not suggesting to set it up, just wondering whether that might be a factor.

(4) Does it make any difference if you try to Backup/Export in Firefox's Safe Mode? That's a standard diagnostic tool to bypass interference by extensions (and some custom settings). More info: Diagnose Firefox issues using Troubleshoot Mode.

You can restart Firefox in Safe Mode using

Help > Restart with Add-ons Disabled

In the dialog, click "Start in Safe Mode" (not Reset)

If that works better, it could indicate an add-on conflict.

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I restarted Firefox 26.0 in safe mode (w/o addons) and it didn't make any difference.

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jscher2000: the automatic backups are also empty.

It doesn't seem to make a difference where I try to save the html backup: to the hard drive, desktop, network drive (when at work), or flash drive.

I do not use the Sync feature.

As in my first response, restarting in safe mode made no difference.

As this problem occurs in 26.0 and 24.2.0esr (work machine), what is it about these versions that is not an issue with older versions, such as 17.0.11esr?

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But bookmarks appear normal in Firefox? This is strange. It could be a problem in the places.sqlite database. cor-el has a link to an extension that runs some utilities on the database in this thread: Firefox won't export all of my bookmarks to an HTML file.

You might want to make a backup first. places.sqlite can be found at the main level of your profile folder. While Firefox is running, there may be associated journaling files whose names also start with places but which have other file extensions. If you see that, you may want to exit Firefox before copying, to ensure that all updates are written to the file.

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

Boot the computer in Windows Safe Mode with network support (press F8 on the boot screen) as a test to see if that helps.

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I've used the places maintenance extension before and I let it run the whole works. It doesn't seem to have any problems with my databse.

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At home, I've got the built-in Windows firewall and Symantec Endpoint Protection 11. At work, it's the same, but here at work, I'm not the administrator for this particular machine.

Running my home pc in safe mode didn't make a difference.

Modified by wisbadger

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While you've been away, we had another active thread on this problem: Bookmarks History in FF are all 0 kb. Also, cannot backup bookmarks - they are all 0 json also. Tried bookmarks articles, forums answers, etc. @#$%^ !

No real solution there, but information about:

  • A bug that has been filed for the developers to consider. You can "vote" for it and that way get on the mailing list for updates.
  • Some further investigative steps and experiments you could try if you are the tinkering type.

In the meantime, please make regular backups of your places.sqlite database. This file contains both your bookmarks and history. You can find it in your active profile folder, which you can open using the method further up this thread.

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How do you "vote" for a bug?

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You can try to create a new profile and keep both profiles open at the same time.
You can do that by starting the second instance with the -no-remote command line switch (see further down).

Then you can do a copy and paste of the bookmarks in the Bookmarks Manager (Library) from the current profile to the Library of the new profile to create a new places.sqlite database file.
If that works then you can copy this places.sqlite file to your current profile folder.
You will lose the history, but it is possible to copy history items to a bookmarks folder in the new profile.

See "Creating a profile":

You can also opt to keep using the new profile and transfer some files from the old profile to the new profile, but be cautious not to copy corrupted files to avoid carrying over the problem.


Use the -no-remote command line switch to open another Firefox instance with its own profile and run multiple Firefox instances simultaneously.

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Hi wisbadger, regarding voting for the bug, please see this post in the other thread: