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Doing A Factory Reset Of Old Vista Laptop. How Do I Get My Firefox Back?

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  • Igcine ukuphendulwa ngu OneTrueFriend

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My Vista laptop is old and creaky. I am now going to do a Factory Reset. Problem is, how am I going to get back my Firefox with bookmarks and add ons, as well as my Thunderbird with files and folders? I would also need my email spam protection prog and event planner, as well as my antivirus. Is there an easy way to do all this? To reinstate Firefox and Desktop programmes after Factory Reset? I do not have external backup. Thanks for help.

All Replies (15)

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Hello there.

Rule #1: don't do anything without backups. Data that only exists as one copy is easily lost, corrupted or simply erased by accident.

In Firefox you can back up your profile to save all the precious things: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/back-and-restore-information-firefox-profiles. I imagine Thunderbird has something similar. Just restore the profile once you've reinstalled Firefox and you're good to go!

USB memory sticks are relatively inexpensive and sufficiently reliable, I would recommend you buy one of those for the vital data you want to back up (i.e. copy). Go as big as your wallet allows, IMO, under 8 GB is pretty useless (DVD images are 4.7 GB, for example). Profile backups don't take up much space, but you may want to use the stick for more stuff later.

As for your security software and other programs, you might want to look in their Help files to see if they have a backup function. Most don't, I'm afraid, so you'll likely have to configure things yourself. Even copying the program's files is unlikely to replicate your settings and personal data, it is more likely to just mess up the program. At least a fresh install is a clean slate to start building from!

There IS a way to restore everything just as it was, but that is by making a disk image. A disk image is a bit-for-bit, 1:1 copy of your drive, and as such a total backup - however, if you restore from a disk image, it would overwrite the "factory-fresh" data and hence wouldn't be useful. It would return you to square one.

In short: see if the program in question has a backup function or functionality and use that. No universal shortcuts that I know of.

Okulungisiwe ngu Phoxuponyou

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You're welcome, hope your factory reset goes well!

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Again, thanks for your great answer and for taking so much trouble. I believe that sync will take care of most of the Firefox end of things but I still struggle with Thunderbird. I just can't seem to copy it. The recommendation is to go to Menu, Help,Troubleshooting Information, Show Folder, Profiles, and then copy from the drop down menu. Copy just will not work and fails every time. Any help would be appreciated.

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Pardon the long absence, I got involved in a work project that consumed all of my time. I was hoping someone else would pick up the slack.

Did you get the copy to go through in the end or is there still trouble?

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Many thanks. Sorry to say there is still trouble. Have not been able to master it at all. Want to copy Thunderbird to DVD, then do a factory reset of Vista Laptop, then restore Thunderbird when machine has been reset. People keep pointing me to links which I much appreciate but I generally get stuck and find that I need step by step instructions - or a video link. Afraid I am not very tech savvy.

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The first thing that comes to mind if you're copying to a DVD and it is failing to go through is that the media is not writable (i.e. the discs are read-only; even writable discs can be closed off from further writes) or your optical drive is not a burner (i.e. it can't write). This is why I recommended a USB thumb drive, as they withstand physical wear better and are more versatile and easier to use.

So let's start with the basics: if your DVD copy is failing, are you sure the drive can write? Is the DVD disc itself writable (DVD-R or DVD-RW)? Can you copy other things than your Thunderbird profile?

Even files currently in use should be able to be copied, but just to make sure, close Thunderbird before attempting to copy.

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I never got to the stage of making a copy as I got bogged down in instructions. The DVD may well work fine for all I know. I did buy a USB stick as you recommended but I have never used one before. In Thunderbird I get to the default profile on the left side of the pane, but I get stuck there. Also, I am not sure at what point to put the DVD or whatever in.

Line I follow is Thunderbird > Menu > Help > Troubleshooting Information > Show Folder > Default Profile

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Your Thunderbird data would be located in the following folder by default:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird

If you do not see the AppData folder, turn on viewing of hidden files and folders:

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

More on Thunderbird profile folders: Profiles - Where Thunderbird stores your messages and other user data


Another possible medium for backup is a USB hard drive. These can be purchased in fairly large capacities for $100 or less at Costco, electronics stores, or online. Some include backup software for free, others include trial versions and/or discounts on backup software. Popular brands include Western Digital and Seagate.

Examples:

The older drives that support USB 1 and USB 2 may be a little cheaper than these newer drives that also support USB 3 (old computers don't have USB 3 "SuperSpeed" ports).

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Alright, so you've got the media on hand but are unsure how to proceed once you get in the profile folder (xxxxxxxx.default). You're in the right place and you have the right tools.

How to copy to a thumb drive in Windows:

  1. Open the Computer view in Windows Explorer (press the Windows key + E; OR go to the Start menu > Computer).
  2. Plug in the USB drive and wait for it to appear in the Computer view (press F5 to refresh the view if it seems to be taking a long time).
  3. When you see your USB drive in the Computer view, access it (double click on the drive as you would any drive or folder) to make sure it is working (Windows will throw an error if the drive needs formatting; it should be pre-formatted so no error is expected).
  4. Now follow the path you mentioned to access your Thunderbird profile folder.
  5. Go up one level from the profile folder so you can see the folder itself and not its contents. Copy the folder onto the USB drive (right-click the folder, move your cursor to Send To and select the USB drive (note the drive's letter and name)).
  6. The Thunderbird profile folder should begin to copy onto the USB. Once finished, view the Properties of the original folder and the copy to make sure they have the same size and number of files (right-click on each folder and select Properties).
  7. Repeat for any other data you might wish to back up.

You can also drag and drop the folder onto the USB drive's icon or in its file view, or right-click the original folder, select Copy, then right-click on the USB drive's icon or in its file view and select Paste, or use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V for copy and paste respectively.

How did you fare with these instructions? I can come up with screenshots later, but right now I'm at my day job.

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Unfortunately I had to go out directly after work tonight as an emergency arose. Thanks a million for providing the above steps. Am looking forward to getting an uninterrupted run at it tomorrow. Thanks again.

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jscher2000 said

Your Thunderbird data would be located in the following folder by default: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird If you do not see the AppData folder, turn on viewing of hidden files and folders: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/show-hidden-files More on Thunderbird profile folders: Profiles - Where Thunderbird stores your messages and other user data

Another possible medium for backup is a USB hard drive. These can be purchased in fairly large capacities for $100 or less at Costco, electronics stores, or online. Some include backup software for free, others include trial versions and/or discounts on backup software. Popular brands include Western Digital and Seagate.

Examples:

The older drives that support USB 1 and USB 2 may be a little cheaper than these newer drives that also support USB 3 (old computers don't have USB 3 "SuperSpeed" ports).

Sincere thanks for all the information. I do have a USB stick bought in PC World here in Dublin, Ireland. Am really hoping to get the matter resolved this week thanks to all the excellent help that I am getting at the moment.

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Phoxuponyou: Copied 355 files but not sure how to double check. Before I factory reset Vista laptop I would like to install USB contents onto a Windows 7 laptop to see if they are working alright. I have Thunderbird installed on the Win 7 machine but no files or folders or profiles. It does receive mails if need be, though.

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If you have an email account set up in Thunderbird on the Windows 7 machine, there is a profile. Thunderbird should also create a default profile when it is first installed, prior to any email accounts being created.

Checking the backed-up data beforehand is a good move. Here is the Mozilla article on how to restore a Thunderbird profile: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/profiles-tb#w_restoring-a-profile-backup.

It is rather straightforward, but please feel free to ask if there is something you don't understand or can't do. I would recommend following the instructions on how to create a new profile with the profile manager, then copying your backup data into that fresh profile - that way you'll have a clean slate to inspect.

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I created the new profile in Windows 7 - 64 bit. However, Thunderbird looks completely different to the original on this machine. It seems to be trying to create a new account. There is no sign of the USB files on this machine, although I am told that the transfer was successful. I don't mind starting over but I don;t see any sign of the original Thunderbird on this machine, or of the few mails it contained. This looks completely different. It is Thunderbird alright. Will look at it fresh tomorrow.