How to Back up Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird

Backing up Firefox and Thunderbird is easier than you think. Here Gizmo explains how

Firefox and Thunderbird Firefox users need to back up regularly to guard against the possibility that their profile gets corrupted or wiped after installing a new extension or a new version of Firefox. If you use Thunderbird then it's even more important that you back up to ensure you don't accidentally lose your email correspondence and account settings.

There are two ways to back up: use a backup utility or do it yourself manually.

Backup Utilities

MozBackup is a free utility written by Pavel Cvrcek that will automatically back up Firefox and Thunderbird as well as Netscape and the full Mozilla suite. In fact, the most recent versions will also back up Mozilla Sunbird, Flock and Spicebird.

It works like a charm - the whole process is driven by a Wizard so easy to use that even raw beginners will be able to set up automatic backups. It also offers encryption of the backup files and a complete push-button restore option.

MozBackup only backs up the essential information rather than all the information in your Mozilla profile, but that's fine for most users.  You can get MozBackup here: http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/

If you only need to back up Firefox, an excellent, perhaps superior, alternative is the free FEBE Firefox extension.  Initially designed for backing up extensions, it now offers the options of backing up various sections of your profile such as bookmarks, cookies, auto-complete, etc. Most importantly, it allows you to back up your entire profile just by checking a single box. Full or selective restore is available. Thanks to site visitor Anupam Shriwatri for the suggestion. FEBE is available from here: http://customsoftwareconsult.com/extensions/febe/febe.html

Manual Backup

Backing up Firefox and Thunderbird manually is as simple as copying their respective profile folders to another location. If you do that, you’ll have a full backup with all your setting and personal data saved.

An advantage of manual backup is that you don't need to have Firefox or Thunderbird functioning in order to restore your backup; it's just a case of copying the backup profiles. That's a good thing because the most common reason you want to restore is that your Firefox or Thunderbird installation is not working!

The hardest part is finding the profile folders. First up, they are not located where you would expect to find them. Secondly, they are located in different places for different versions of Windows. Thirdly, they may be assigned random file names that make them difficult to recognize.

On Windows 2000/XP machines the locations for your Firefox and Thunderbird profiles are respectively:

  • C:\Documents and Settings\<Windows login/user name>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<Profile name>\
  • C:\Documents and Settings\<Windows login/user name>\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\<Profile name>\
On Windows 9x/Me PCs they can usually be found at:
  • C:\Windows\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<Profile name>\
  • C:\Windows\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\<Profile name>\

    If you can't locate your profiles then check out this document for more information: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_Folder#What_is_in_my_profile?

    On my XP laptop the profiles are:

  • C:\Documents and Settings\Ian\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\default.ebq
  • C:\Documents and Settings\Ian\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\25ve0lz5.default

To back these up I copy the profiles to an external USB drive. It's as simple as that. I do it manually but you could also use Windows Scheduler or a backup manager to do the job automatically. Make sure, though, that Firefox and Thunderbird are not running before you back up.
 

Gizmo
 

 

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Comments

by jareds on 9. March 2014 - 0:15  (114902)

The later versions of tbird do not seem to let you manually copy individual folders used to organize your mail. ie.. recipes or resumes.
I would like to transfer archive files from an older computer and combine with latest backup but when trying to move them they do not show up in tbird after relaunch? Is there any manual individual restore tricks??

by Paxmilitaris on 3. March 2014 - 19:46  (114759)

I tried Mozbackup (portable), but it didn't work with Firefox and Thunderbird portable.

by Paxmilitaris on 3. March 2014 - 19:05  (114757)

The Mozbackup link is invalid.

by MidnightCowboy on 3. March 2014 - 19:09  (114758)

Thank you. The link has now been corrected. MC - Site Manager.

by Luvntravln on 18. January 2012 - 8:56  (87338)

Running W7: I backed up the entire Mozilla folder found at Username>AppData>Roaming>Mozilla. Contained in the Mozzy folder is the Firefox folder which contains a profiles folder.

I have just rebuilt my computer.

Did I find the right profiles folder to restore my profile?

If so, I replaced the entire new profiles folder from the new FF with the old profiles folder.

Nope! Wouldn't open FF and said that FF was running and I had to restart. Over and over and over.

Reinstalled the new profiles and I am up and running.

However, I do not have my Add-ons and Extensions.

How do I use the saved data to replace the new data?

Thanks

by TonyT (not verified) on 16. November 2012 - 22:18  (102442)

Did you change the profiles.ini (Thunderbird configuration file) to the correct profile? (Your older profile)

by SuperDad (not verified) on 10. February 2012 - 9:06  (88620)

I have related question

I have just moved over to Thunderbird (v10) from Outlook (not easy, but that's another story)

Backing up Outlook was easy, I simply copied the .pst in Apps Data/[name]/Local/Microsoft/Outlook

I would like to do similar with Thunderbird. The main Profile folder seems to be in Apps Data/[name]/roaming/Thunderbird but I see there are other Profiles in the Local Folder and Programs(X86) Folder. What do these do, do I need to back them up, and do I need to back up whole folder?

tks

SD

by ZoNi (not verified) on 17. January 2012 - 11:36  (87303)

Easy way to find FF/TB default profile folder: FF button > Help > Troubleshooting Information> Open Containing Folder

Of course, this can be used only when FF/TB can be started :-)

by RobertM (not verified) on 20. October 2011 - 12:05  (81779)

I found a much easier way to back up Thunderbird. I use Dropbox and just moved my Thunderbird Email folder location to inside the Dropbox folder. It backs up immediately and automatically.

by Jesper (not verified) on 14. November 2011 - 14:04  (83270)

RobertM, I would like to do the same. But how do you move the folder location? Especially in Thunderbird. (I run Win 7 64 bit).

by ZoNi (not verified) on 17. November 2011 - 13:45  (83424)

http://email.about.com/od/mozillathunderbirdtips/qt/et_move_profile.htm

by lancelot (not verified) on 30. September 2011 - 14:12  (80627)

KLS MAIL BACKUP is my first choice, never failed. I tried mozbackup and febe, but kls offer most options and give you exactly what it promise, everytime you need it to do

by cyba (not verified) on 6. November 2011 - 5:18  (82799)

The problem with Mozilla Backup and, from what I've seen of KLS (just installed and tested), is that only each archive, of however many you have, can be restored. For instance, with Mozilla Backup, if I wanted a particular email from an archive made last year then restoring that archive to see the email overwrites my current emails. I have to (i) archive these, then (ii) restore the old archive, then (iii) restore the archived 'current' or latest emails. I can't add an archive to my current TBird emails. This is a hassle. KLS might progressively add all emails cumulatively to a single new archive? I'm not sure.

by Peter Opit (not verified) on 16. August 2011 - 12:23  (77731)

Hi,
I lost all my emails when tbird did it's backup itself. I have searched the mozilla website but none of the ways around my problem have worked. Does anyone know how to find this backup it made, so I can get rid of mail that was going to be deleted anyway and restore the messages that were yet to be filed into their own folders within Inbox?
"Closing the gate after the horse has bolted" situation, I know, but have kept inbox as clear as possible since, would these current emails remain after a restoration, if a restoration is possible?

thanks
pedro52

by JMJM (not verified) on 27. October 2010 - 9:50  (60269)

Try Mailbrowserbackup (just google "mailbroweserbackup"). This lists all the email and bowser programs installed on your computer. You only have to tick the ones you want backed-up and where to, and it does the rest.

by TropicalCoder (not verified) on 1. October 2010 - 22:55  (58863)

Restoring Thunderbird on Win 7 64 bits after a main hard drive failure didn't go well, but I found what worked. After installing a new hard drive and reinstalling the OS, and being able to access the old HD, I moved a Profile file over that I had backed up at one point, and viola - Thunderbird was back - as it was 8 months ago when I made that back up!

This was no use, of course. Then I found the most recent Thunderbird profile on the old drive, and moved that, but for some reason it did not work. Then I noted that the profile.ini still pointed to the previous profile, so I changed that. Still didn't work. Then I noted that the profile seems to be stored in 2 different places: C:\Users\[myname]\AppData\Local\Thunderbird
and C:\Users\[myname]\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird, so I updated both those locations. Still didn't work. Then I noted there were more files in:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Thunderbird and replaced those. Perhaps it was after this step that Thunderbird broke, and would no longer boot. Finally, I downloaded it again and installed it. Like magic, it must have noted my "old" installation and assimilated all that data and suddenly I was face to face with my email exactly as it appeared before the system crash. Wow.

The key steps here are:
1.) On the newly installed OS, install Thunderbird.
2.) Delete all the contents in these three locations...
C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Thunderbird
C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Thunderbird
C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird,
replacing it with all the data from the old installation.
3.) Install Thunderbird again.

by Trytohelp (not verified) on 15. August 2011 - 15:01  (77688)

Easier Method........

1.) Install OS
2.) Restore files to c:\users\\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird
3.) Download and install thunderbird.

Thunderbird will find everything you restored and your up and running. This will work for Firefox as well. Just restore your Firefox backup to c:\users\\AppData\Roaming\Firefox.

by Arthur (not verified) on 12. December 2011 - 11:09  (84879)

Wow, how easy was that.
Thanks for this Trytohelp.
Have 6 email accounts in Thunderbird, over 14gb in data.
From the old notebook, copied the Thunderbird file in Vista professional (c:\users\\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird) to a 32gb memory stick.
Plugged memory stick in to the new notebook with Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit and then pasted this Thunderbird file to Roaming (c:\users\\AppData\Roaming.
Then installed Thunderbird 8 (latest version) and bingo it seems all data is there and all account are working so far.

Ooops, jut noticed it hasn't copied over the address Book.. hhmmm

Now to work out how to copy the address book.

Any ideas?

Arthur

by Monkey Man (not verified) on 22. September 2011 - 22:11  (80142)

Well this easier method worked like a treat for me ... 64 bit win 7.

Thanks for the help everyone!

by Anonymous123456789 (not verified) on 29. January 2011 - 12:39  (65429)

Thanks for the solution. Works perfectly! :)

by Hermit2003 (not verified) on 30. December 2010 - 0:15  (63501)

A million thanks for this post! I have been struggling for a week to restore my Thunderbird mail and settings from my old hard drive. I had Vista, but after my motherboard died I bought a new computer with Win 7 64-bit. I knew I'd have to reinstall all my programs, but since my old hard drive was intact, I figured I could just copy the Thunderbird profiles. When that didn't work, I searched all over the net, but this was the only suggestion I've found that worked. Many, many thanks!

by Anonymous on 24. March 2010 - 12:57  (46105)

after taking backup can any one tell how to verify weather the backup i have taken is worthy (other than trying to restore it:-))

by Anupam on 24. March 2010 - 14:46  (46112)

I don't know how you can verify other than restoring data. But, if you want a verification feature, FEBE has it. Look for it in the options. If you choose that, FEBE will verify the backups, after taking them.

by Anonymous on 3. March 2010 - 17:19  (44934)

Best free program to automatically back up Thunderbird is Karen's Replicator. Replicator can be scheduled to copy files to an external drive daily, weekly or whenever you wish. Simply set the source to be copied as the Thunderbird folder usually found in application data or roaming, and the destination as your external pen drive or whatever. Should your pc go down the pan, simply install Thunderbird on your new machine and replace the Thunderbird folder with the contents of your thunderbird folder on your external drive. Works a treat.

by Chris Kavanagh (not verified) on 2. February 2011 - 0:22  (65659)

Just thought I'd comment on (#44934) by Anonymous. . .I too use 'Karen's Replicator' to back up my Firefox User Profile, & it works like a gem. It's a GREAT piece of software for backing up ANYTHING, give it a try!

by Anonymous on 28. February 2010 - 15:37  (44718)

I've backed up my TB emails and address book with mozbackup but now I can't find out how to get them back into my new TB on my new notebook. it's a fairly large file that apparently can only be opened by TB. But if I click "open" it doesn't do anything. I had lots of important emails and addresses in it, so any help is appreciated to get it back!
Thanks
L. Germany

by DS (not verified) on 14. March 2011 - 14:52  (67909)

You have to install MozBackup on your new computer and run it to restore the backup you previously made on the old computer.

by Anupam on 1. March 2010 - 6:58  (44759)

Hi, you may find this webpage useful for restoration :

http://kb.mozillazine.org/Transferring_data_to_a_new_profile_-_Thunderbird

Also, you may find this page useful too, to compact file size of backup :

http://kb.mozillazine.org/Thunderbird_:_Tips_:_Compacting_Folders

This page will be of use too :

http://kb.mozillazine.org/MozBackup

If you still have problems, then contact the author of the software, as given on this page :

http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/support.php

by Anupam on 13. December 2009 - 17:16  (38550)

MozBackup has been recently updated. Version 1.4.10 is released.

by Anonymous on 13. December 2009 - 16:50  (38547)

My HP Pavillion Notebook was a little slow/ almost 3 yrs old, so I wanted to take it back to factory settings (Vista). I backed up all data onto an external drive, successfully! After getting my Notebook started up and software on it, I moved the back up data back on the notebook too. Everything, the pics, word, browser info, moved back in the proper programs except Thunderbird, the saved eMails, its settings, saved addresses etc. I did not have a updated Thunderbird on my old back, and all I can find is the new Thunderbird 3.0. How can I get my mail, addresses and settings from my external Drive (in a rar file)into the new Thunderbird 3.0? Thanks

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