FEBE

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions



Note: This FAQ refers mostly to FEBE 6.0 and above.  FEBE 5.0 and below are obsolete.
These instructions are very similar for TEBE.


What is FEBE?
What do I need to run FEBE?
I just installed FEBE.  Now what?  How do I get a backup?
What is a "Backup destination directory"?
I get the message  "Could not process extension/theme with GUID xxx -- skipped" when backing up with FEBE 6.0. How do I fix it?
I'm trying to set the backup schedule time but all I get is blanks when I try to select the time from the drop-down menu.  Is this a bug?
Can FEBE backup/restore my extensions settings?
I would like to be able to restore my extensions/themes all at once.  Can I do that?
The progress window just hangs forever and no extensions are backed up.  What gives?
The progress window just hangs forever but everything seems to get backed up.  What gives?
I used FEBE to restore my passwords, but when I restart Firefox my restored passwords aren't there.  What's going on?
On the FEBE homepage, there is an install link and a download link.  The download link gives me a zip file.  What am I supposed to do with that?  I unzipped it, but don't know how to install it.
I want to copy my entire profile to a new Firefox installation.  Can you give me step-by-step instructions?  (Assume I am Firefox challenged.)
I'm trying to restore my bookmarks but get a message that says "'bookmarks-YYYY-MM-DD.json' is not a valid bookmarks backup. Restore aborted"  Why is that?
I'm having problems restoring my (insert FEBE backup item here).  FEBE says it restored, but it didn't.  Is there a way to manually restore this?
I've got two extensions that FEBE wont back up.  Why?
When I select:"Full profile" as my backup type, all the other backup options are grayed out. What's the difference between a  full profile backup and a selective one?
I think I found a bug in the scheduled backup.  If I set FEBE to backup in five minutes from now, the time passes but no backup happens.  And yes, I did click the "Set schedule time" button.
My FEBE Results Report only lists one item!  I have over 30 extensions installed and none of them are listed.  The only thing backed up was something called "profile{Default User}.fbu".  What happened?
I'm getting a message that says I've got an extension pending installation.  All my extensions are accounted for.  How do I get rid of this warning message?
Sometimes when a backup is running, I get a popup message that says something about "Script is busy" and asks if I want to continue.  I keep clicking 'Yes' and eventually the backup completes.  Is there something I can do to get rid of this message?
I'm trying to set the backup schedule time but all I get is blanks when I try to select the time from the drop-down menu.  Is this a bug?
Cheese and Crackers!  This FAQ sure is long.  Is there an easy way to jump back to the top without having to scroll?
I know that FEBE is open source software and it is my absolute right to use it without ever having to pay anything.  But what if I am filthy stinking rich and really, really, really want to donate a buck or two?  Do you take donations?  I wont take no for an answer!
This FAQ is worthless!  It doesn't answer my question.



What is FEBE?

FEBE
(pronounced [fee-bee]) Firefox Environment Backup Extension allows you to backup and restore all of your installed Firefox extensions and themes.  It actually creates individual installable .xpi (or .jar for themes) files that you can put on CD, Flash Drive or floppy (do they still make those?) and install on another computer.  You could also backup your extensions before installing an extension upgrade.  This way you could always go back if the upgrade doesn't work for you.  You may have a really good (but old) extension installed that is no longer supported and you don't want to loose it.  Now you can snatch it out of the bowels of Firefox and keep it archived.  The latest version will (optionally) backup/restore your bookmarks, preferences, cookies and just about everything else that Firefox generates.  You can even backup/restore an entire profile in one step.

Once installed, FEBE is available from the Firefox Tools menu.  An icon can be placed on the toolbar via (right-click on toolbar) > Customize...

What do I need to run FEBE?

FEBE 5.0 works with Firefox 2.0 (and above) on Windows, Linux, and Mac platforms.  FEBE 4.0 will work with Firefox 1.5 (but not 2.0) on Windows XP and Linux only.  Version 5.2 works with Firefox 3.0beta2.

FEBE 6.x only works with Firefox 3.0 and above.

I just installed FEBE.  Now what?  How do I get a backup?

Go to Tools > FEBE > FEBE Options > Directory and set your "Backup destination directory".  This is the bare minimum to get FEBE working, but you should explore the other options while you're there.  To start a backup, go to Tools > FEBE > Perform backup.  If you like, you can put a FEBE icon on the toolbar.  Go to View > Toolbars > Customize... and drag the FEBE icon to someplace on your toolbar.  For more information, see the FEBE QuickStart guide.

What is a "Backup destination directory"?

This is the location on your computer that FEBE uses to store the backed up extensions and themes.  This directory must exist at the location you specify.  You may use the FEBE file picker (the "Browse ..." button) to navigate around and create the directory if it does not already exist.  Note: For some reason, I can't use my CD ROM drive as a destination.  It might just be my computer, but if it doesn't work for you either, you have been warned ...

I would not advise using your desktop as the destination.  FEBE can create a lot of files and your desktop will quickly become cluttered.

Can FEBE backup/restore my extensions settings?

In a word ... yes.  But there is a big caveat (user beware) that comes with it.  FEBE will backup your preferences (a file called "prefs.js" that contains your extension settings) but it backs up the whole thing without making any distinctions about your installed extensions.  In other words, it backs up the ENTIRE preferences file, not just the parts needed for any individual extension.  Here is the reason:  Since there is no standardized way for a developer to write an individual extension's settings to the Firefox preferences, FEBE cannot accurately extract the settings that belong to any particular extension.  I would have to treat each individual extension as a special case and write code to extract the preferences for that particular extension.  With the list of available extensions numbering in the thousands and growing daily, it would be virtually impossible to keep on top of the situation.

The bottom line is this:  If you restore your preferences, any changes made since you backed them up will be lost.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, since you would normally only want to restore after some cataclysmic event obliterated your browser and you are starting over with a new installation.

The same thing applies to bookmarks, cookies, passwords, and anything else that FEBE backs up.

Note:  My extension OPIE (Ordered Preference Import/Export) can backup/restore many Firefox extension options.

I would like to be able to restore my extensions/themes all at once. Can I do that?

Yes.  You can use FEBE's companion extension CLEO.  CLEO will package your backed up extensions and themes into a single, installable .xpi file.

There is another (and apparently not widely known)  way to restore any number of extensions/themes all at once, and it has nothing to do with FEBE.  Use Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer, I think that's some other browser) and drag and drop them into Firebox's Extension Dialog box.

 Here's a quick guide for XP users:
  • Open the Firefox Extension Dialog Box (Tools > Extensions).
  • Click Start > All Programs and open Windows Explorer (usually under "Accessories").
  • Navigate to the directory where your backed up extensions/themes reside.
  • Using the "shift-click" or "ctrl-click" method, select the item(s) you want to install.
  • Drag them down to the taskbar and drop them into the Firefox Extensions tab.
  • If all goes well, you should see the standard install dialog box.
Update:  FEBE 6.0 includes a "Quick Backup" option that allows your extensions/themes to be backed up into a single, installable file.  Kind of a CLEO lite.  See Tools > FEBE > Quick Backup.

The progress window just hangs forever and no extensions are backed up. What gives?

There are currently three four known reasons for this.  When two extensions use internal functions that have the same name, a conflict occurs.  The only way to fix this is to modify one of the extensions by giving it unique function names.  (Greasemonkey and Gmail Manager were two that were incompatible with FEBE.)  Since it is easier for me to fix FEBE than it is to get the other extension developers to fix their extensions, I update my code whenever a conflict is reported.  If you are experiencing a conflict, please mention it in the forum.  For the most current list of incompatable add-ons, see Extensions that do not work with FEBE.

Another reason is long path names.  MS DOS does not recognize pathnames longer than about 256 characters.  If your backup destination directory is too long, FEBE won't work.  For instance, "C:My computer/My documents/My files/My very important files/My backups that I would hate to lose and could never get back again/Documents and Settings/local/Users/Chuck/Firefox 2.0.0.4/Firefox Extension backups/ 2007/Second quarter/June/ FEBE 2007-06-12:13:22:56" will not work.  But "C:\FEBE backups" will.

The third reason has to do with international characters.  There is an apparent bug in a certain XPCOM component (modules we programmers use to handle cross-platform tasks) that does not handle international character sets correctly.  If your profile name contains any "strange" characters like "Jürgen Išplestinis režimas PrÒfilé", FEBE may not be able to process the backup.

Starting with FEBE 5.0, another reason for this popped up.  If you have "User-defined backups" checked but have no user-defined backups defined, FEBE will hang on the progress window.  (Any other items should have already finished backing up by then.)  To get around this, either define a backup item or just uncheck the option.  I'll have a fix in the next update. Fixed in Version 5.1.2beta2.

To see if FEBE is generating errors, you need a way to display them.  If FEBE is hung up on the progress window, you can open up the error console (Tools > Error Console **) and find out what's happening.  If you post the errors on the support forum, I'll try to debug the problem.

** You may want try the Console² extension for error checking.  It is more comprehensive.


The progress window just hangs forever but everything seems to get backed up. What gives?

You most likely have some garbage in your extension directory.  This happens often when upgrading from Fx2 to Fx3.  To fix, go to FEBE options > Misc > Verify extension directory.  If errors are found, let FEBE effect repairs.

You now should be good to go.  This problem should not happen every time you perform a backup, but only rarely.  If it happens all the time, drop me a note in the support forum.



I used FEBE to restore my passwords, but when I restart Firefox my restored passwords aren't there. What's going on?

Sometimes (I haven't quite figured out why yet), Firefox refuses to recognize restored usernames/passwords. Don't worry, if you backed them up you can manually restore them.  Here's how:
  1. Find the location of your profile folder.
  2. Make sure Firefox is closed (check the task manager if you're not sure).
  3. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to your backup destination directory.  This is the folder you told FEBE to store the backups.
  4. Find a file named username-passwords{profile_name}.fbu and rename it to username-passwords{profile_name}.zip("profile_name" could be anything ... like "default" or whatever you specified when you first created the profile.)
  5. Open the renamed file by double-clicking on it. (If it doesn't open, you need to install a zip file manager like Winzip or 7-zip.)
  6. Unzip the two files into your profile folder.  The files are named key3.db and signons2.txt. (Prior to Firefox 2.0.0.2 it is called "signons.txt".)
  7. Start Firefox and verify your passwords are restored.  (Click "tools > Options > Security > Show passwords.)

On the FEBE homepage, there is an install link and a download link. The download link gives me a zip file. What am I supposed to do with that? I unzipped it, but don't know how to install it.

All you have to do is rename it to a .xpi file.  The zip download and the xpi install files are exactly the same, just named differently.  Why?  Because Firefox automatically tries to install any file with the .xpi extension, I have to rename it to allow it to be downloaded.  Just use windows explorer and rename the ".zip" ending to ".xpi" and you're good to go.  Opening the zip files does nothing except give you access to the wonderful and mysterious world of program source code (which makes for good reading if you can't get to sleep).

OK, I know what you are going to ask next:  How do I install the .xpi file from my hard drive?  From Firefox, click File > Open file... and navigate to wherever your xpi file resides.  Double click on the file and Firefox should take over and install it.

I want to copy my entire profile to a new Firefox installation. Can you give me step-by-step instructions? (Assume I am Firefox challenged.)

I've created a whole page describing the steps involved.

To view a full profile backup and restore in action, see Adria Richards' excellent how-to videosAlso available on YouTube:  Backup and Restore


See FEBE 101 - Restoring a Firefox Profile


I'm trying to restore my bookmarks but get a message that says "'bookmarks-YYYY-MM-DD.json' is not a valid bookmarks backup. Restore aborted"  Why is that?

Chances are you are trying to restore a bookmarks backup created by Firefox, not FEBE.  If you were to backup using Bookmarks > Organize Bookmarks... > Import and Backup > Backup, Firefox would create a file named 'bookmarks-YYYY-MM-DD.json' ('bookmarks-2010-04-30.json' for instance).  When you backup bookmarks with FEBE, you get a file named 'bookmarks{profileName}.json' (like 'bookmarks{Chuck (Fx3.6)}.json').  You should use Bookmarks > Organize Bookmarks... > Import and Backup > Restore  for Firefox created backups and Tools > FEBE > Restore > Restore Bookmarks .json) for FEBE created backups.

The two file formats are actually the same but with different naming conventions.  Advance users could simply rename the backup to the appropriate format and restore.

  I'm having problems restoring my (insert FEBE backup item here). FEBE says it restored, but it didn't. Is there a way to manually restore this?

Yes, there is (for most items). 

FEBE creates many different types of files during the backup.  Each of these types have a different file extension.   This is the group of characters after the last period in the filename.  (For instance, Firefox extensions have a file extension of ".xpi" and Firefox themes have ".jar".)  I'll break it down by file extension:

*.xpi)  Firefox extensions.  Example: FirefoxExtensionBackupExtensionFEBE{3.0}.xpi
Probably the easiest way to manually restore extensions is to open it from Firefox.  Go to File > Open file... and navigate to the extension.  Double click on the extension and Firefox should open it's install extension dialog box.

*.jar)  Firefox themes.  Example: Outlook2003Blue{1.5.3}.jar
Open the Firefox theme dialog box: Tools > Themes.  Now, using Windows Explorer, open the folder which contains the theme you want to restore.  Select the theme by clicking on it once.  Drag  the theme to the bottom of your screen and drop it into the Firefox theme dialog window.  Firefox should prompt you to complete the restore.  (You can also restore extensions in a similar way.  Just drag and drop them into the extension dialog window.)

bookmarks*.html)  Firefox bookmarks.  Example: bookmarks{Default User}.html
Use the Firefox  bookmark import function.  Bookmarks > Organize Bookmarks > Import and Backup > Import HTML

*.js)  Javascript files.  Example: prefs{Default User}.js
Copy and paste from your backup destination directory to your profile folder.

*.txt)  Plaintext files.  Example: cookies{Default User}.txt
With Firefox closed, copy and paste from your backup destination directory to your profile folder.

*.dat)  Firefox data files.  Example: history{Default User}.dat
With Firefox closed, copy and paste from your backup destination directory to your profile folder.

*.css)  Firefox style files.  Example: userChrome{Default User}.css
With Firefox closed, copy and paste "userChrome{Default User}.css" and "userContent{Default User}.css" from your backup destination directory to the "chrome" directory in your profile folder.

*.1)
  Permission files.  Example: hostperm{Default User}.1
With Firefox closed, copy and paste from your backup destination directory to your profile folder.

*.fbu)  FEBE backup files.  Example: usernames-passwords{Default User}.fbu
These files are simply zip files renamed.  To restore, rename them with a ".zip" file extension and unzip them into your profile folder.  (This must be done with Firefox closed.)  This also applies to an entire profile backup. 

*.json)  Javascript Object Notation files..  Example: bookmarks.{Default User}.json
These files are the only ones that cannot be manually restored.  Since Firefox 3 the bookmarks, history, and other items were moved to a database called places.sqlite.  Items must be imported programmatically and cannot be simply copied.


I've got two extensions that FEBE wont back up. Why?
There are two items - "DOM Inspector" and "Talkback" that aren't extensions in the regular sense.  These two come already installed in Firefox and are a part of it.  FEBE will not attempt to back these up.

Update:  "DOM Inspector" is now a regular add-on and will be backed up.  "Talkback" no longer exists.

When I select:"Full profile" as my backup type, all the other backup options are grayed out. What's the difference between a  full profile backup and a selective one?

FEBE was originally developed as a utility that would extract installed extensions and themes and save them in a fresh, installable format   It soon evolved into a more general backup utility that included bookmarks, preferences, and cookies.  After that, users asked that more and more Firefox items be added to the backup list.  I finally added a complete profile backup option that would backup everything there was to backup.  The biggest difference between a full profile backup and a selective one is that a profile backup is a single file (in a zip format labeled as .fbu) that is a mirror image of the state of Firefox at the time the backup is performed.  It is all or nothing.  It would be really tough to try to restore only parts of it.  Since the profile backup does it all, it doesn't really make sense to offer individual backup options.  That's why the other options are disabled.

I think I found a bug in the scheduled backup.   If I set FEBE to backup in five minutes from now, the time passes but no backup happens.  And yes, I did click the "Set schedule time" button.

You probably set the backup time and just sat there with the options window open waiting for the time to pass, didn't you?  This isn't so much a bug as it is a minor annoyance.  The scheduled backup countdown doesn't actually start until something called an "onload event" happens.  This event occurs whenever a page loads.  So, after you click the button, close out the options window and go do something on the Internet.  Just one page load is all you need to start things going.  In a future version, I hope to have it work like the Ronco® Rotisserie - "Just set it ... and forget it!"

My FEBE Results Report only lists one item! I have over 30 extensions installed and none of them are listed. The only thing backed up was something called "profile{Default User}.fbu". What happened?

Don't worry ...  believe it or not,  FEBE did just what you asked it to do.  In FEBE Options, there is a radio button that reads "Full profile".  If this is checked, all you will get is the one backup file.  But this file contains everything there is to backup (in your Firefox profile folder).  If you wanted to, you could examine the contents by either changing the extension name to .zip or by telling your computer to open all .fbu files with your installed zip program.  (By extension name, I'm talking about the last three characters of the file name after the period, not a Firefox extension.  This has been the source of many a confusion.  That is one reason why Mozilla is now calling what were Firefox "extensions" -- "addons".  But old habits die hard ... And I would hate to have to rename FEBE to FABA as I've grown quite accustomed to the old name!) 

Anyway, If you deselect the "Full profile" option (by selecting "Selective" as your backup type), your results report (and corresponding backup destination directory) will contain the items each individually. 

This is probably a good place to mention something to those of you who use CLEO.  You must have your backup type as "Selective" to have FEBE create the extensions and themes for CLEO to package.


I'm getting a message that says I've got an extension pending installation.  All my extensions are accounted for.  How do I get rid of this warning message?

You
may think you have no extensions or theme installs pending, but Firefox thinks you do.  Navigate to your profile folder and look for a directory named "staged-xpis".  Whatever is in this directory is what Firefox thinks needs to be installed.  Most likely, it's some old extension that got hung up during installation and never got cleared.  It's easy enough to fix.  With Firefox closed, remove the "staged-xpis" directory.  Not just the contents, but the entire folder.  That should clear the warning message.

You can run Tools > FEBE > FEBE Options > Misc > Verify extension directory.  That will fix the problem also.

Sometimes when a backup is running, I get a popup message that says something about "Script is busy" and asks if I want to continue.  I keep clicking 'Yes' and eventually the backup completes.  Is there something I can do to get rid of this message?

Yes.   But first a little information about what may be happening.

Chances are you have the "Verify backups?" option checked and FEBE is trying to validate a backup that went wrong.  Here's what FEBE does when verifying:  After the backup script has run or after an item is copied to the destination directory,  FEBE checks that directory for the backed up file.  It will check every second for a maximum of 10 seconds before declaring that item a failure.  In some (rare?) cases, Firefox will get tired of waiting for this section of code to finish and display the warning.  The best thing to do is click the "Continue" button a couple of times to see if the backup will finish.  If it doesn't, then there is a problem backing up that particular item.  

If allowing the script to continue a few times gets FEBE to complete the backup, there is something you can do to prevent the message from displaying.  There is a Firefox preference called dom.max_chrome_script_run_time that controls how long of a wait elapses before you get the unresponsive script message. The default is 20 seconds. Try setting yours to 60 (one minute). If that is not enough, you can increase it more or just set it to zero (no limit).

To change the value, type about:config in your location bar and double-click on the named preference.

Update:  Starting with Firefox v3.6, something was changed in the JavaScript engine that makes FEBE (and other extensions) timeout more frequently.  Many users will now need to update the preference as described above.

For more information, see this article.

I get the message  "Could not process extension/theme with GUID xxx -- skipped" when backing up with FEBE 6.0. How do I fix it?

Upgrading major versions of Firefox (like v2.0 to v3.0) sometimes leaves behind some garbage in the extensions directory.  FEBE 6.0 has a function that will attempt to fix this.

Run Tools > FEBE > FEBE Options  > Misc > Verify extension directory. If you have any invalid items you will get a message:
Verify complete with errors ... see log.
Do you want FEBE to attempt repairs? (OK for yes, Cancel for no)
Click OK and let FEBE repair the damage.  After the repair, run the function again just to be sure.  If the error still occurs when attempting a backup, you may have some other problems in your extension directory.  In particular, see if you have any folders in your profile/extensions directory that end with a number in parentheses  (e.g., "someextension(2).com").  If you do, you need to remove them manually.  They are not valid extensions.

I'm trying to set the backup schedule time but all I get is blanks when I try to select the time from the drop-down menu.  Is this a bug?

No ... It's not so much a bug as it is a problem with some Firefox themes.  Some themes don't allow enough room to display drop-down menus.  All you need to do is re-size the options window.  Here's a flash movie that shows what to do:


Cheese and Crackers!  This FAQ sure is long.  Is there an easy way to jump back to the top without having to scroll?

Actually, there is.   It's a Firefox extension called "Back to Top".  I know the guy who wrote it and he did a really nice job.

I know that FEBE is open source software and it is my absolute right to use it without ever having to pay anything.  But what if I am filthy stinking rich and really, really, really want to donate a buck or two?  Do you take donations?  I wont take no for an answer!

Since you put it that way ... sure!  You may use this PayPal link.  Thanks!

This FAQ is worthless! It doesn't answer my question.

I'll add more to this FAQ as I think of more questions that might come up.  In the meantime, you can visit my support forum and post your question there.  Who knows, maybe somebody had the same question answered there.


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