Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm Starting To Really Hate Browsers

When I first started using the Internet in anything beyond a "playful" manner, I had a fair bit of allegiance to Netscape. I'm not even sure why that was - now - although I think it was something of a thumbing-my-nose at Microsoft and Internet Explorer. After awhile, I started using both, with Netscape being my browser of choice at home, and IE at work.

About a year or two ago, though, after upgrading Netscape once again because I was constantly being reminded to do so, I (also, once again) had all of my bookmarks (or favourites) wiped out in the process! This had happened once before with Netscape, and I'd assumed I'd done something wrong (like clicked "OK" to "Do you want to lose all of your favourites?") When it happened yet again, and I knew I'd not "asked for it", I finally lost my patience with that browser.

In the meantime, I'd found I was getting less and less joy from Microsoft's browser and its tendency to help me in all the wrong ways! IE would seem to block the pop ups I wanted (like when I'm blogging and request to add a URL) and then let the really annoying ones through (like when several new windows would be opened simply because I followed a link).

So into this vacuum strolled Mozilla's Firefox. I'd heard good things about it from lots of folks, and so I gave it a try. I liked the Tab framework - and noticed IE copied it not long after - and was slowly starting to use it more and more. For example, I always write my blog entries in Firefox now, whether they be at home or at work.

And then this morning I had the experience of watching my PC lock up during shutdown, causing me to power it off and back on again. Upon powering it back up, to make sure everything was cool, I went to check that the Internet was working... and discovered that all of my bookmarks - in fact all of my browser settings, right down to the Firefox home page - had disappeared! I could barely believe my eyes!

I've always consoled myself, whenever I lose bookmarks/favourites, that at least I get the value of having a good clean-up of old links that way. But this was just plain annoying, especially since I'd only been using it for about a year now! And when I went looking to see how I'd go about exporting my list of bookmarks, for the next time this happened, there didn't even appear to be that option in Firefox! (Admittedly, I didn't look all that hard.) Import, sure... they want you bringing your links over from IE or Netscape. But not so much on the export option. I'm sure I'll get over this - I always do! - but at the moment I'm more-than-a-little down on browsers!


Peter J. said...

Your profile's probably still there (including bookmarks) but it's not being seen for some reason. Try "firefox -ProfileManager" from the command line (I can't remember if it's installed in the Windows Start menu). If all else fails, search for bookmarks.html or bookmarks.bak files, or a bookmarkbackups directory that should contain several dated backups of your bookmarks.html file.

(By the way: Bookmarks|Organize Bookmarks..., then File|Export..., presuming you're using FF2.x.)

You think using one browser is bad? Try writing code—even simple HTML—that works consistently in the two major ones.

Croptop said...

Was just going to tell you how to export your bookmarks but PeterJ already beat me to it.

In addition to PeterJ's comments, I would advocate installing the Tab Mix Plus add-on. While Firefox itself has a fairly decent session-saver, Tab Mix Plus is much better and will allow you to "unclose" accidentally closed tabs as well as give you the ability to restore all of your open tabs when/if you have to restart Firefox.

mikem said...

re: unclosing previously closed tabs, i just use ctrl-shift-t in firefox (but i have also heard good things about tab mix plus)

Kimota94 aka Matt said...

Appreciate the help on finding the Export option - got it now! - but I suspect there's a misunderstanding on what happened, based on the comments about "unclosing previously closed tabs."

When I rebooted my PC, and launched Firefox, there was nothing left of what I'd set over the previous many months. I could find the bookmarks file just fine.. it just happened to be empty, or more precisely, back to its defaults that it had original started with. As far as I can tell, the only thing I could've done differently to avoid this would've been to periodically export my bookmarks against the possibility that this would happen.

Peter J. said...

Well, that is strange... Firefox is supposed to automatically keep several versions of your bookmarks.html file, e.g.:

$ ls -ltr ~/.mozilla/firefox/saltval.default/bookmarkbackups/
total 1608
-rw-r--r-- 1 peterj peterj 321365 Jul 14 16:15 bookmarks-2007-07-14.html
-rw-r--r-- 1 peterj peterj 321365 Jul 23 17:54 bookmarks-2007-07-23.html
-rw-r--r-- 1 peterj peterj 321360 Aug 4 10:28 bookmarks-2007-08-04.html
-rw-r--r-- 1 peterj peterj 321365 Aug 26 07:23 bookmarks-2007-08-26.html
-rw-r--r-- 1 peterj peterj 321365 Aug 31 21:25 bookmarks-2007-08-31.html

(That's from my home Linux box, but the functionality isn't platform-specific.)

And it's exceedingly strange that it would delete your entire profile directory. I've heard of prefs.js going away (which is where most preferences are stored) but generally a previous version will still exist named prefs.bak.

You might want to search for a profiles.ini file in your Windows user profile directory (usually under C:\Documents and Settings). It contains the locations of any Firefox profile directories. The contents of mine look like this:



The Path value is relative to the location where you've found profiles.ini; in my case it's in ~/.mozilla/firefox.

cac said...

Time to give up on Firefox and switch to Opera or Safari.