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Bookmark file missing, backup files empty, can't import IE favorites

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I noticed that my bookmarks had disappeared. I checked my profile and the bookmarks file is missing. The remaining profile information and files appear to be intact, including history. There are a number of bookmarkbackup (JSON) files but they contain no data. I have tried to import IE11 favorites directly, and via the export to HTML/import to FF method, but nothing happens. I think I have exhausted all suggested remedies except deleting and rebuilding the places.sqlite file. I found a log file under the profile Allusers that indicated there was a maintenanceservice-install on Nov. 26, which may have been when my bookmarks disappeared.

I'm running Windows 7 and FF 25.0.1.

Suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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When you say the JSON files in the bookmarkbackups folder appear to be empty, are they 0 bytes in size, or how are you viewing them? They should contain a long line of JavaScript listing lots of URLs and related data. Hopefully it hasn't been 3 weeks since you lost your bookmarks because typically the backups would be rotated out sooner than that...

Do you recall losing any other settings? If Firefox performed a reset, it usually would preserve your old profile folder on your desktop (in a folder named Old Firefox Data). Have you seen anything like that appear?

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You could try to restore a previous version of the places.sqlite file.

  • Right-click: Properties > Previous Versions
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The 8 oldest JSON files contain 3KB each. I noticed the newest JSON file is 940KB. Given that, I checked my Bookmarks Menu in the FF library and noticed that FF did manage to import 1 Favorites folder from IE11, but no other folders or individual favorites. All of my other settings appear to be intact and there is no Old FF Data/Profile folder on the desktop.

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I do have three previous versions of places.sqlite. Curiously, they were all 10MB and were created Nov. 26 at the exact same time. The files were modified Nov. 27, at 3:08 pm, 10:31 pm and 10:39 pm, the last two while I was at home in bed. I can't figure out why my PC would be making restore points so late in the evening, unless it is related to my automated backups which are scheduled to begin at 9 pm. Is there a Windows log file that may be able to tell me what happened Nov. 26/27?

Speaking of backups, the bookmark file is also missing from my external hard "backup" drive. I don't understand this because my backup profile is set so as to leave files on the external drive even if they have been deleted from the PC hard drive.

Are there any downsides to restoring one of the places.sqlite files?

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The places.sqlite file has a fixed minimum size of 10 MB and gets increased in 10 MB chunks if necessary, so it shouldn't be a surprise that all files have the same size.

The places.sqlite files stores the bookmarks and the history, so restoring an older copy will restore both the bookmarks and the history to the state as saved in the file (i.e. you lose bookmarks created later, so make an HTML backup).

A JSON backup with a size of 3 KB is hardly containing any bookmarks.
A size of 940 KB looks more promising if this file isn't corrupted.