Why is Firefox not saving my desired homepage, search engine, and ad block settings?

Cristián T February 17, 2014
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I’m having trouble getting Firefox to save various preferences of mine, particularly my homepage. Every time I open Firefox, it sends me to a Yahoo! webpage that is not what I want. I go into options > general > startup > restore to default, and yet every time I restart the program, it sends me right back to this undesired webpage.

Another thing I’m having an issue with is my search engine. I noticed this when I tried searching for something using what I thought was my default search engine, which was Google. I was corrected when I realized that I was searching using Yahoo! instead. Obviously this is not the search engine I want to use when I’m searching on the Internet for things I want to find. However, once I change the search engine, my settings will stay saved for as long as I keep my browser open. Once I close my browser, it resets my search settings.

Another one of my most problematic issues I find my browser afflicted with is the fact that Adblock Plus is no longer blocking ads and popups during my browsing experience. This obviously diminishes my enjoyment of having an intentionally functional browser on my computer, when I find that my browser is no longer functioning the way I want it to.

One thing I noticed was that I started up my computer, noticing that there were about fifteen to twenty new programs with really sketchy names installed on my computer. I don’t think these magically appeared, nor do I think they were installed remotely or by some virus or something like that, because I remember where I put my computer before I went to sleep last night, and it wasn’t there this morning when I woke up.

This leads me to believe that someone was using it last night, and for some reason thought it was a good idea to download programs with rather ridiculous names (and functions). So please help me figure out how to keep my Firefox settings how I want them even when I close my browser. Thank you very much.

  1. rt
    March 13, 2014 at 4:24 pm


    I am going to Chrome and stop this monthly mess. You no more it stabilized and Firefox changes it again. Firefox is no ready for Prime Time, IMO.

    • Bruce E
      March 13, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      You make this sound like it is a Firefox issue. It isn't. I use Firefox on multiple Windows and Linux systems and have been doing so for years with NO issues whatsoever. Firefox updates rarely change any settings though some extensions/plugins may be disabled because it is incompatible with the new version of Firefox. Most of those issues are resolved in a matter of days unless you are using plugins that are no longer supported.

      Based on my experience with the systems of inexperienced computer users, almost all "browser issues" are caused by malware on the host system or the user changing browser settings themselves, especially those on the about:config page without a full understanding of the consequences.

  2. Bruce E
    February 19, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Uninstall Firefox. Reboot computer. Delete all Firefox folders under Program Files and/or Program Files (x86). Also check for folders under the AppData/Mozilla folder in all user profile directories for references to Firefox and delete those. Run CCleaner's registry cleaner and remove any entires that refer to Firefox or its directories. Reboot the computer again. Reinstall Firefox without any extensions and see if it works properly. If it does, add your extensions one-by-one and retest after each one until you have 'em all back. If it doesn't, it is likely there is some piece of malware on the system that is refusing to die. In that case, it may be time to consider rebuilding the entire machine with a nuke 'n pave operation.

  3. Bruce E
    February 18, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    If there are programs with "sketchy names," you may want to consider listing them here. One of them may be causing most of your problems. Actually, it is likely one of those that keeps resetting your homepage & search engine.

    Has Adblock Plus been disabled? Check your add-ons page to find out.

    If the changes are due to another person messing around with the settings, you could always create a separate profile for yourself. Just close all instances of Firefox and start it from a command prompt with the command 'firefox -P'. This should open up the Profile Manager which will allow you to create your own profile on the system. Just make sure you create a new directory for this profile and not use an existing directory that contains any other files since a future deletion of this profile would remove everything in the directory (including non-profile files).

    • Cristián T
      February 19, 2014 at 2:35 am

      I don't remember the names of the programs unfortunately since I deleted them all already. I didn't think that this problem would be so complicated to solve, so I didn't take note of the names of the programs I found.

      My add-ons page says that Adblock is enabled.

      I tried creating a new profile, and that didn't solve the problem, unfortunately.

  4. Oron J
    February 18, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Cristián, Jan has covered one angle well, so I'll not go over it again. However, there are other possibilities.

    You could have malware on your computer (this can get on your computer in so many ways that there's no point in speculating on the origin). Scan your computer with your antivirus software (do a full scan), then with Malwarebytes Free (make sure to download it from https://www.malwarebytes.org/free/ as there are fake versions about). You could also try AntiToolbar (http://www.anti-toolbar.com/) which, apart from controlling toolbars and addons, also allows you to set the home page and search page on any/all your browsers.

    Finally, your Firefox profile may be corrupted. The profile is a folder that contains all the settings & data for a particular user on Firefox, and it's possible that not all changes (or any) will be saved when you quit. Once you have made your computer safe by setting a separate account (with a password) for each person, create a new FireFox profile as explained at https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/profile-manager-create-and-remove-firefox-profiles?esab=a&s=create+profile&r=0&as=s . If the new profile works, transfer your bookmarks and reinstall your addons to the new profile and Bob, as they say, is your uncle!

    • Cristián T
      February 19, 2014 at 3:19 am

      I tried using Malwarebytes and AntiToolbar to fix the problem, but it didn't seem to fix anything
      I also tried creating a new profile but that didn't work either.

  5. Hovsep A
    February 18, 2014 at 9:28 am

    if it is laptop then try to use factory recovery option, this will put window as new system.

    if it is not possible then use live cd with antimalware, boot it and scan, do check the infections and avoid false positives..

    download Process Explorer and autorns
    check for malware and their location then delete them.

    finally scan with malwarebytes antimalware and superantispyware in safe mode if possible.

    now scan with ccleaner or other tools. Try to reset firefox.

    if someone else is sharing the laptop with you prepare another account for that person and lock your account with a password.

  6. Jan F
    February 17, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    I'm not sure about your living situation but if another person has/had physical access to your computer and used it then the problem should be obvious? This person has likely caused the "issues" and changes.

    Remove all the programs you don't know or use. You might want to look them up on the internet to make sure they are not part of e.g. a hardware driver or similar.

    In Firefox check the installed add-ons. Those often cause changes to start pages and search engine settings.

    Make sure no tool is radically wiping data after every boot e.g. some cleaner.

    Last but not least, secure your computer.

    set a strong user password

    If you are supposed to be the only person using it make sure to secure the administrator account
    for Windows XP change the administrator password
    for Windows Vista & later disable logon for the administrator
    * both can be done within Computer Management > Local users and groups

    Find a secure physical location.

    At best, set a boot password within the BIOS (or UEFI).
    There are two settings, one is usually called "supervisor password" which is required to enter the BIOS and a "user password" or "hard drive password" which is required to actually boot the computer.

    As for Adblock the issue is to general.
    It can be anything from an outdated adblock list, outdated add-on or simply the page(s) using methods not blocked by it. At best remove it completely and re-install it.

    • Cristián T
      February 18, 2014 at 12:35 am

      I tried removing programs, removing unnecessary add-ons (although I didn't find any), haven't found any tools that are radically wiping data after every boot. However, I have CCleaner installed which I doubt would be causing any problems like this, since it has worked normally without causing problems for months, if not years. I am unfortunately not allowed to change the password to the computer, since it is a shared computer, and other people are technically allowed to use it in my absence. I don't know how to further explain the Adblock issue, I thought I was being very specific but I guess that's not the case. I have already tried completely re-installing it.

    • Jan F
      February 18, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      Since it is a shared computer I suggest to setup separate user profiles for all the people who are allowed to use it and again, use a secure password for your own.

      If the list of people is fluctuating setup an additional Guest account for all those who are not using it frequently.

      Most likely the other people are allowed to install whatever program they think they need. So this is something you probably can't prevent other then asking them to only install programs they are going to use more than once and that actually have purpose.

      Adblock and Firefox go "hand in hand" and since neither seems to be working fine I suggest to start with a new profile as Oron suggested.

    • Cristián T
      February 19, 2014 at 2:31 am

      I tried creating a new user account on the computer and installing Firefox on it. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to solve the problem and Firefox still continues to have the Yahoo! webpage saved as the homepage, Yahoo! search is still set as the default search engine, and Adblock still does not block ads and popups.

      I did create a new profile, but the problem persisted.

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