Fire! Firefox! Help!

After two years of solid blogging, I reckon Im entitled to a bleg (not that this is a promise to wait another two years before my next one.)

My problem? Firefox is giving me hell. At the late stages of Firefox 1, I got a bug in which the program took about ten seconds (during which it was inoperable) whenever I clicked on the history menu. Anyway, a fortuitous switch to another machine and an upgrade to Firefox 2.0 fixed the problem.

But now more and more things are going wrong. About two weeks ago, the bookmarks menu which I find it pretty hard to do without decided to randomly refuse to open up any secondary directories. I can still get them by organising bookmarks but its a hassle. So I did what I always do with technology. I ignored it because its amazing how organic software is how often things fix themselves or at least get to some useable state which one can live with. Comparing this to the time taken to properly solve software problems and over my life Im way ahead.

Anyway, more and more things have been going wrong. Left clicks bring out a pale shadow, a ghost of a left click menu and after a while, simply clicking on Firefox can freeze the machine for a good 10 seconds.

Ive tried uninstalling FF and then reinstalling. When that didnt work, (all the bookmarks were still there along with the bugs – all fondly remembered) I backed up the bookmarks, and then removed the FF files from program files. Alas no dice. The damn program still remembered them.

Now some of this is undoubtedly Window’s XP’s fault. It’s not what it was – has a few bugs, but I can get by with it with all the other programs.

So . . . would any kind geeks out there please tell me how to do a clean re-install of FF so that I can put these things properly behind me. And the simpler you can keep it the better.

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Francis Xavier Holden
16 years ago
16 years ago

If you have backed up the bookmarks, you could try deleting the Firefox profile, re-installing Firefox and then restoring the bookmarks. Profile would be in C:\Documents and Settings\{login_name}\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles.

I’d make sure you have backed up any add-ons that you want to keep. FEBE – google it – is my preferred way of backing up the bits of my profile I’d prefer not to have to find again on the internet.

david tiley
16 years ago

FX is onto something.

The basic Opera interface is very similar, and accepts your bookmark lists.

Then again, it has weird moments too.

Francis Xavier Holden
16 years ago

FF pretty much copied the good stuff from Opera. Tabs etc. I been using Opera for around 10 years at a guess. I have Opera and FF and IE. Its not an either or situation. Given that FF pinched Operas good ideas you won’t find much problem getting used to Opera. Opera will import your FF bookmarks and newsfeeds.

Operas right click options are just perfect – “Open In New Tab” – my fav the “paste and go” is a wonder for hyperactive browsers, link followers, google bunnies and scan reader types.

16 years ago

Hi Nicholas,

gilmae’s suggestion of removing your profile after backing up your bookmarks is sound. Here’s what I’d do:

Start -> Run: %APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles. Click OK.

There’ll be a folder with a funny name. That’s your profile. Inside that you’ll find a whole bunch of things. The most important one for you at this stage is bookmarks.html. Copy this file somewhere.

Also, at this stage it might not be a bad idea to actually open it in Firefox and see what it looks like. If the bookmark file itself hasn’t been corrupted then you should find that your folders and subfolders are displayed as bold headings, with the subfolders indented into the page. The individual bookmarks themselves indent accordingly.

Assuming the file displays properly, you can say safely that it is the profile that’s broken (and not the bookmarks themselves). Install FEBE and use it to backup your the extensions, bookmarks, cookies & usernames/passwords (none of these should be corrupted).

With that done, use Firefox’s profile manager to delete your profile and create a brand new one:

c:\program files\mozilla firefox\firefox.exe -profilemanager

Select your profile and click “Delete Profile”. Now use “Create Profile” to make a new one. Before you close the profile manager off make sure “Don’t ask at startup” is ticked.

Start Firefox and do your basic setup (home page, proxy settings if any, etc). Now install FEBE and use it to restore your bookmarks, extensions, cookies, etc. See how you go.

Even though your bookmarks.html file contains (obviously) your bookmarks, it’s your preferences file that actually stores your toolbar configuration. This is why your earlier backup/restore effort didn’t work.

Hope this helps. :)

Tony T.
16 years ago

You’re all talking rubbish! Firefox is great and I never have any pr

16 years ago

FEBE is an extension for Firefox that can backup and restore your profile, bookmarks, extensions, themes, etc. It’s a fantastic tool that automates much of the process I suspect you’ve already been through. Check it out here:


As for figuring out which of your two profiles is the active one, this is precisely what the Firefox profile manager is for. If you close Firefox off and then restart it from the command line with the flag “-profilemanager” you can see which of the two profiles is the active one. You can also do things like move a profile to a new location, rename it, copy and delete it, etc.

If you’re really struggling to get around this problem then I’d do the following:

Backup your profile just in case (and notably your bookmarks file).

Use a program like Revo Uninstaller ( to really delete Firefox from your computer. It goes a step beyond most application uninstallers by scouring the registry to remove any entries that are all too often left behind.

Then I’d delete the entire contents of %APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox to guarantee there’s not a single shred of Firefox-related files under your account.

Perform a new install of the latest Firefox and then import your bookmarks prior to installing any addons/extensions.

My fingers are crossed. :)