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I seem to have lost heaps of bookmarks when Exporting/Re-Installing/Importing. What has happened? and How do I recover them?

  • 16 uphendule
  • 2 zinale nkinga
  • Igcine ukuphendulwa ngu FredMcD

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So I recently exported my bookmarks, put them on a external hard drive, then re-installed Windows. Windows was getting slow, my anit-malware software wasn't fixing it, so I performed a re-installation. Which I've done before without any problems. I then re-installed Firefox and imported my bookmarks back into Firefox. But this time not all of them returned. I only got about 1/2 of them. I tried Importing again and this time I got some of the ones that were missing the first time, but it still didn't contain all of them. The 2nd import didn't have all of the same folders as the first either, which were placed below the 1st import. So now my bookmarks are jumbled and I'm still missing a 1/4 of them. Most of the bookmarks that I still can't recover were in the Unsorted Bookmarks section if that helps at all. But there may be many more missing. I can't tell... as it would take me a long time to check, as I had many bookmarks and without a copy of the original list I would struggle to remember them all. I looked through the Bookmarks HTML file and still don't see all of the websites that I know were originally there. In fact it just looks like a copy of the 2nd Import that I got. So I don't even know what happened to the websites I got from the 1st import? Where did THEY go?

Can anyone help? I am very confused. I don't know where I went wrong (Exporting, Re-Installing, Importing etc)

I would like to recover all of my Bookmarks if possible. But also figure out what happened, and how to prevent it. So this doesn't happen again to me or other Firefox users.

Thanks you

All Replies (16)

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How did you export, then import the bookmarks?

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-I opened the 'Library'

-clicked on the 'Import and Backup' tab

-scrolled down and clicked the 'Export Bookmarks to HTML...'

-saved the bookmarks.html file to Desktop

-later transferred the bookmarks.html to an external hard drive

-After re-installing Windows7 I downloaded and installed Firefox again

-inserted the external hard drive

-Opened the Firefox Library again

-clicked on the 'Import and Backup' tab

-scrolled down and clicked the 'Import Bookmarks from HTML...'

-found the bookmarks.html file on the external hard drive and opened it

I have used this method recently and it worked out fine. The only thing I can think of that I may have done differently last time is maybe I transferred the bookmarks.html file back to Desktop before importing. But that doesn't make much sense because I imagine all of the data would be there regardless of which drive it is located in.

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You can open this HTML file in a Firefox tab to check if it has all your bookmarks.

Did you save any of the automatically created JSON backups from the bookmarkbackups folder?

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I have opened the bookmarks.html file in a Firefox tab and like I said before it looks like a list of the 2nd import I did. It only contains about 3/4 of my original bookmarks. And somehow it has some of folders that the 1st import didn't get, but it is also missing folders that were in the 1st import as well.

I did not save any JSON files before hand, I was unfamiliar with that method until now. I did however manage to find out that Windows saves your old program files in a folder called 'Windows.old'. It stores them for 28 days after re-installing Windows, then deletes them. I have found the JSON files in the 'bookmarkbackups' folder inside Windows.old. My concern now is if this doesn't work properly I will loose the random assortment of bookmarks I have managed to import so far.

Does importing the JSON file erase what bookmarks are currently in Firefox?

If so I may need to recover my bookmarks with the JSON file on a seperate PC so at least I won't risk loosing what I currently have.

It seems that most references on MozillaSupport about moving bookmarks involve using the backup JSON files.

Is it more safe to transfer your bookmarks using the backup JSON method?

When I first tried to learn about transferring bookmarks two years ago, all I ever read about was the Export-Import HTML method. And it has always worked for me until now...

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Yes, you restore a JSON backup and that replaces all current bookmarks, so you lose any you currently have and that aren't in the backup.

The name of a compressed .jsonlz4 includes the total item count (bookmarks ans separators).

  • bookmarks-YYYY-MM-DD_<item-count>_<hash>.json
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      • So does that mean it is more safe to transfer your bookmarks using the backup JSON method?

I always thought the Export-Import HTML method was safe, but clearly it wasn't this time.

      • I still really want to know what happened, and WHY?

Firefox did freeze for about 30 seconds after importing the bookmarks.html, but I just thought that was normal. Maybe there was an error. I do have a lot of bookmarks. And I am using and older laptop with a slow Core2Duo processor.

      • Could that have something to do with why it failed to safely transfer the bookmarks.html?
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So that you understand, JSON files are compressed. While the HTML files are readable in a text viewer or in Firefox.

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I know JSON's are a compressed file.

I don't really understand what that has to do with my queries?

I just want my 3 previous questions answered....

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You may have to click the Continue button one or more times if you get a script alert when importing an HTML backup.

Restoring a JSON backup will replace all current bookmarks with the bookmarks in the JSON backup (you get a warning about that). Importing bookmarks from an HTML file merges imported bookmarks with already existing bookmarks, so you may need to remove duplicates. An HTML backup doesn't support tags and annotations, so if you want to preserve those then you need to use a JSON backup. A JSON backup doesn't include favicons, so you have to click a bookmark and open the link to make Firefox retrieve the favicon.

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I never got a script alert when importing the HTML.

Firefox just froze for about 30 seconds (so I couldn't click on anything).

Then the bookmarks showed up, only heaps were missing.

Then I tried importing again and got a second lot of bookmarks, with some that were missing from the 1st but not all. But the 2nd lot was also missing some that were in the 1st.

When I view the HTML file now it is just a copy of the 2nd import result.

No idea why this happened.

Can anyone tell me?

I did find this comment on the Restore Bookmarks instructions of this SupportForum:

"Place the bookmark backup file on your transfer media (e.g. a Flash drive) and copy it to the desktop (or any location) of the other computer."

My guess right now is that it's because the bookmarks.html was located in an external hard drive, not the local disk C: drive. Perhaps passing it through an external drive is less safe than straight from the C: drive. This is only thing I didn't do. Although these are the instructions for a backup JSON, not a HTML, I am presuming it is the same.

I guess I'm just hoping someone can confirm that was what went wrong?

Or give me an idea as to what they think went wrong?

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What is the value of the dom.max_chrome_script_run_time pref on the about:config page?

You can reset user set (bold) prefs via the right-click context menu to the default value.

You can open the about:config page via the location/address bar. You can accept the warning and click "I'll be careful" to continue.

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The dom.max_chrome_script_run_time value is 20

It can not be reset, as it appears to have never been altered.

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JayD22 said

My guess right now is that it's because the bookmarks.html was located in an external hard drive

Where the file is should not matter as long as it is accessible.

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Well then I have no idea.

I have restored the bookmarks using the JSON file inside my Windows.old folders. It seems like I've got all of them back, but wouldn't you know it some of them still got seriously jumbled!

I wondered what would happen if I used an older bookmark backup. So I tried using one from a month ago, and they all came back perfect and unjumbled (in the correct position and location).

But I can't keep this version... as it is missing all the important bookmarks I've made in the last month. So I guess I'm just going to have to live with jumbled bookmarks and somehow find the time to sort through them all.

The fact that they are so jumbled up also makes me concerned that there maybe still some missing I haven't noticed yet.

So now I am still left with the quandary of what has happened and why?

-Why did the bookmarks.html import screw up so badly?

-How come even my most recent backup JSON file before re-installing Windows also came up jumbled, when one from a month ago was fine?

-Was Firefox saving faulty backups towards the end of the month for some reason?

-Could there be something wrong with my computer maybe?

Can someone PLEASE give me some kind of clue as what went wrong...

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Are you using Sync or did you ever used it?

Sync is a reported cause of corrupted bookmarks.

If the bookmarks didn't got exported properly then it is possible that the places.sqlite database file was corrupted at that time or still is.

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JayD22 said

I wondered what would happen if I used an older bookmark backup. So I tried using one from a month ago, and they all came back perfect and unjumbled (in the correct position and location).
But I can't keep this version... as it is missing all the important bookmarks I've made in the last month.

Take the "for the last month" bookmarks into Firefox. Save it as a HTML file. Now clear the manager, and load the good backup. Now the file you saved, load it into Firefox (just like loading a web page).

Now go thru the file, and right click on each link, and select Add To Bookmarks. Remember to place these marks in the right folders as you go.