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Had to refresh Windows 8, Firefox was removed and I lost my bookmarks, browser history, and cookies. Is there any way to recover?

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Due to recurring problems with Windows 8, I had to "refresh" my laptop. As a result, my computer was reset to its factory settings, and Mozilla Firefox was stripped out. I have lost my bookmarks, browser history, and cookies.

Is this lost information still present somewhere on my computer's hard drive? (I did get a list of removed apps afterwards.) Is there any way to recover and restore my bookmarks, at the very least?

I have yet to reinstall Firefox, because I do not want to overwrite anything that might still be present.

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jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
2381 solutions 21079 answers

I'm not familiar with the kind of refresh you did. At this point, do you have a folder named

C:\Windows.old

or other new folder created during the process that might contain old data? We've had other threads where Vista and Windows 7 users had such a folder and could recover their old data from it.

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jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
2381 solutions 21079 answers

To see whether your Firefox data is in its normal location, you can paste the following in the Start menu search box and press Enter:

%APPDATA%

This should open the hidden folder

C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\

Do you see any Mozilla folder there? If so, look inside for Firefox\Profiles to see whether your old profile folder might still be there.

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Question owner

Hello,

Thank you for your response.

On the current version of Windows, it is very difficult to locate features like the Start menu search box. Nothing came up when I did a search for %APPDATA%

However, while doing a manual inspection of the C drive, I did find a folder named C:\Windows.old Right-clicking Properties on it shows that it contains 40,247 Files, 7,361 Folders, totaling 5.5 GB. When I try to open any of the many subfolders, though, I am told that it is empty. Maybe there are hidden folders I cannot see.

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Question owner

Would reloading Mozilla Firefox onto my computer help? Maybe Firefox would look for relevant files already on my computer.

I am just afraid that downloading and installing a new copy of Firefox would overwrite the lost data that I am trying to recover.

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jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
2381 solutions 21079 answers

Helpful Reply

Hold on before installing. Firefox isn't going to look in the C:\Windows.old folder.

To show hidden files, see: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/show-hidden-files

Then look for:

C:\Windows.old\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles

Can you find a folder there named something gibberish.default?

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Question owner

Sorry for taking so long. Won't let me have both screens open at once. Have to keep toggling.

Looks like I hit the jackpot, with your help!

Showing Hidden Folders seems to have uncovered AppData folder that I could not see previously. In the Roaming folder is a Firefox folder.

In the Firefox folder, I find: 0djssvxn.default bearing the same date as the computer's crash.

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Sorry that I was gone so long. The only browser that was on my computer, Internet Explorer, suddenly decided that it would not let me visit any page connected with Mozilla; kept giving me the message "This page can't be displayed" even after I dumped the entire browser cache - the only site for which it did this. Spiteful, hateful thing!

I wound up installing the version of Firefox specifically configured for Yahoo that was offered on Yahoo's site. That will teach IE - exported all of my bookmarks and will never use it again.

You (or another volunteer) will have to talk me through - or point me to a page that will show me - how to import the old (pre-refresh) Firefox bookmark and history files that I found in the Roaming subfolder 0djssvxn.default. If not tonight, perhaps some other time (it is rather late here).

At least I know that I still have my old bookmarks and browsing history. I am forever in your debt for that.

Firefox forever! Down with IE!

Modified by I_hate_Microsoft

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jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
2381 solutions 21079 answers

How much do you want to restore? One option is to see whether you can restore the entire thing as an additional profile. Your current clean setup would remain undisturbed. Note that difference in plugins and system-installed extensions may create some issues, but it's still worth a try.

(1) Copy the old profile folder to the standard location for profile folders, alongside your current profile folder.

You may already be familiar with the standard location but to find it quickly, you can use either:

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

Click the "Open Folder" button and then navigate up one level (click the word Profiles in the address bar).

Here you should see your currently active profile folder. Without disturbing that folder, copy the old profile folder alongside your current one. They may or may not have similar names; the names are partially randomized.

(2) Create a new profile with your old profile folder, using Firefox's Profile Manager.

(A) Copy the address of your Profiles folder from the address bar (typically C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles). This will save a lot of clicking.

(B) Exit out of Firefox and start up the profile manager using Start > search box (or Run):

firefox.exe -P

Any time you want to switch profiles, exit Firefox and return to this dialog.

(C) Click the Create Profile button. On the next screen you should get a "Choose Folder" button. Click that, then paste the location you copied above and select the old profile folder you placed there. Finish creating the "new" profile.

(D) Select the "new" profile and click Start Firefox. You should be in your old settings, with a few potential hiccups. How does it look?

Note: You might be tempted to return and use the Delete Profile button for the profile you're leaving behind. But... it's a bit too easy to accidentally delete your "real" profile, so I recommend resisting the temptation. If you do want to clean up later, I suggest making a backup of all your profiles first in case something were to go wrong.

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