How To Back Up & Restore Mozilla Firefox & Thunderbird [Windows]

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back up firefox and thunderbirdFirefox stores a surprising large amount of data for you. Passwords, cookies, certificates, extensions and more. Thunderbird, while an overall capable email client, does not provide built in tools for backing up and exporting email accounts. Fortunately there is one free program which handles all exporting (backing up) and importing of these programs as well as many other Mozilla products: Mozbackup.

Why Use Mozbackup?

Backing up and restoring Mozilla profiles is useful for a number of reasons. One is straight up backup, so that in case your computer dies you will have a method of restoring your data. Mozbackup is useful even if you have some other sort of backup system in place because just backing up the directory of your profile does work, but it will take some tweaking to get it restored again. Mozbackup makes the backup and restore process dead simple.

If you are migrating to a new PC or even a new OS, Mozbackup can help you to migrate your old profiles and settings to that new machine.

Of course another reason to use it is that it is free, both for personal and commercial use.

What Programs Will Mozbackup Work With?

Mozbackup works with all versions of Firefox up to 4 and the latest Thunderbird mail client. It also works with:

  • Firefox 1.0 – 4.0
  • Thunderbird 1.0 – 3.1
  • Sunbird 0.3 – 0.9
  • Flock 1.0 – 2.6
  • Postbox (Express) 1.0 – 1.1
  • SeaMonkey 1.0a – 2.0
  • Mozilla Suite 1.7 – 1.7.x
  • Spicebird 0.4 – 0.8
  • Songbird 1.0 – 1.7
  • Netscape 7.x, 9.x
  • Wyzo

As you can see, it works with the full suite of Mozilla products.

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How To Do A Backup

Download and install Mozbackup to your machine (Windows only). When you run it, it will detect all of the profiles on your computer created by Mozilla programs, and allow you to select which program to backup.

back up firefox and thunderbird

You can also select which details you want to back up. This includes more general settings, passwords, bookmarks, history, extensions and more. In the Thunderbird profile you can select an option to back up all of your emails or just the account settings themselves.

back up firefox bookmarks

After this option, you can select whether you would like to password protect the file or not, which requires you to enter a password before restoring it to another profile.

Restoring The Backup

Now that you are going to restore it, the process is very similar to the backup. You simply select which file you want to restore from, and then the specific features you want to restore. After it is done you will see a report which you can check to make sure everything went OK.

back up firefox bookmarks

Scheduling Backups

To schedule a backup, you must generate a profile which you can then run from the command line. In the Mozbackup program directory, create a file named something like “Email.mozprofile” and add the following lines:


Where the action is backup (if you are backing up), application is the program you want to backup. The profile will be Default unless you have multiple profiles on your system, and the output is where you want to back up to. Leave the password blank unless you wish to password protect your file.

After creating this backup profile, you then create a task in Scheduled tasks (Administrative Tools) in your Control Panel. The configuration should look like the following:

back up firefox and thunderbird

Select the mozbackup program for the executable and your profile name as the argument. It will then run the backup program as scheduled.

You can also place some variables in the file name. For example, the default entry is:

<application> <version> – <year>-<month>-<day>

These will make your backup files dynamic so you can keep track of how old the backup is from. Follow this link for more tips on automating backups with Mozbackup.

Migrating To A New OS

Mozbackup is only for Windows, so if you are moving to a Mac, you are stuck, right? Wrong! The backup file is basically the profile directory in a zip file. If you are migrating to a Mac, unzip the file and then import the contents into your Mozilla profile directory. This effectively gives you the same settings as the profile on your old computer.

Do you have any tips for using Mozbackup to keep your machine up to date and backed up? Let us know below!

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