How to back up Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird

Firefox users need to regularly back up 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 backup to ensure you don’t accidentally lose your email correspondence and account settings.

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

Backup Utilities

MozBackup is a free utility written by Pavel Cvrcek that will automatically backup Firefox and Thunderbird as well as Netscape and the full Mozilla suite. 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.

There are a couple of issues with MozBackup. First, it is no longer being supported by the developer. Second, it only backs up the essential information rather than all the information in your Mozilla profile. That said, it’s still the best option for most users. You can get MozBackup here:

There are also a couple of commercial utilities that will backup Firefox and Thunderbird. I’ve not used them but you can find details at

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.

The hard 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 DataMozillaFirefoxProfiles<Profile name> C:Documents and Settings<Windows login/user name>Application DataThunderbirdProfiles<Profile name>

On Windows 9x/Me PCs they can usually be found at:

C:WindowsApplication DataMozillaFirefoxProfiles<Profile name> C:WindowsApplication DataThunderbirdProfiles<Profile name>

If you can’t locate your profiles then check out this document for more information:

On my XP laptop the profiles are:

C:Documents and SettingsIanApplication DataMozillaFirefoxProfilesdefault.ebq C:Documents and SettingsIanApplication DataThunderbirdProfiles25ve0lz5.default

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2005-04-20: