Doing a clean re-install of Mozilla Firefox


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Today, my Firefox died on me. I don’t exactly know the exact cause of death (an initial autopsy proved inconclusive) but for some reason it refused to do whatever I told it to do. It refused to download anything, refused to load images and the menus had a long hard think whether to open up or not. After a long time doing online CPR, I eventually called the time of death and prepared for its resurrection.

Just like you should always defrag your PC on a regular basis, a complete reinstall of Firefox is also probably a good idea every 6 months or so. I had noticed for quite some time that my Firefox profile had tons of crap accumulated from extensions I had uninstalled up to a year ago. It seems that when you uninstall an extension or a Greasemonkey script, not everything is completely erased.

Funnily enough, the biggest offender in this area seems to be Google – months after uninstalling the toolbar and Browser Sync, I found temp files in my Firefox profile today with old settings for these programs. Take a look at your own Firefox profile and see if yours is the same.

But if you want to re-install Firefox from scratch, you need to make sure you delete everything, otherwise the new installation is going to detect those old settings and nothing will really change. So although this may be obvious to some of you, I thought for the sake of reference, I would jot down everything I had to do to achieve that complete clean re-install :

  • First, take detailed notes of all your extensions, Greasemonkey scripts, browser theme and search plug-ins (you don’t want to forget them later!)
  • Backup your bookmarks to your PC. The bookmarks manager has a handy export function for this.
  • You might also want to take a screenshot of your Firefox browser so you can refer to it later while putting everything together again. I did this but it’s not absolutely necessary.
  • Now uninstall Firefox from the PC by going to the software list via the start menu.
  • Delete the Firefox folders from Windows Explorer. There are two – the one in Program Files with the installation files and the other one in your Documents and Settings which contains your profile. The profile one is probably the most important one to delete because it contains all your settings and tweaks.
  • Make sure all Firefox shortcuts are deleted from the desktop, quick start menu and start menu.
  • The last stage is to wipe any Firefox traces from the Windows Registry. The easiest method is to use a Regsitry cleaning program such as CCleaner.

Once all these steps have been done, the computer should now be completely clean of anything Firefox. You can now re-install Firefox and then go hunting for your extensions, Greasemonkey scripts, browser theme and search plug-ins again. Don’t forget to import your bookmarks which you had saved to the PC.

After starting up the newly-reinstalled Firefox, I noticed a huge improvement in its speed and responsiveness. So it seems that doing a clean re-install is the equivalent of defragging your hard-drive after all.   The profile folder has never been so clean and orderly before either.    I wonder how long that will last for.






23 Responses to Doing a clean re-install of Mozilla Firefox

  1. often times i forget to back up bookmarks. i found the extensions Foxmarks to be a great way to be worry free of that. Foxmarks will keep a copy of your browser(firefox obviously) bookmarks and will update itself as you add more. you can also use it on other computers so those of you that have more than one computer can easily transfer all your bookmarks over.

  2. often times i forget to back up bookmarks. i found the extensions Foxmarks to be a great way to be worry free of that. Foxmarks will keep a copy of your browser(firefox obviously) bookmarks and will update itself as you add more. you can also use it on other computers so those of you that have more than one computer can easily transfer all your bookmarks over.

  3. The first thing to do is start Firefox in safe mode to see if it's your profile that's F'd up or if something else is wrong. If it's your profile, just use Firefox's Profile Manager to make a new profile. All this extra work you did is unnecessary.

    Trying for the 3rd time to post this comment. I don't think WordPress wants me to tell you how to start Firefox in safe mode, so I'll spell it out. You use the command line and type the full path to firefox's executable then type -safe-mode after it before you hit enter.

  4. Pingback: Doing a clean re-install of Mozilla Firefox » Better Than Therapy - by Mark O’Neill

  5. I would recommend using Revo Uninstaller to take care of the last 4 bullet points all at once. An advanced uninstall of Firefox with Revo will run the regular Firefox uninstaller and then prompt you to seek out the leftover files/folders and registry keys. Very fast and efficient.

  6. I would recommend using Revo Uninstaller to take care of the last 4 bullet points all at once. An advanced uninstall of Firefox with Revo will run the regular Firefox uninstaller and then prompt you to seek out the leftover files/folders and registry keys. Very fast and efficient.

  7. The first thing to do is start Firefox in safe mode (C;Program FilesMozilla Firefoxfirefox.exe -safe-mode) to see if it’s your profile that’s F’d up or if something else is wrong. If it’s your profile, just use Firefox’s Profile Manager to make a new profile. All this extra work you did is unnecessary.

  8. The first thing to do is start Firefox in safe mode to see if it’s your profile that’s F’d up or if something else is wrong. If it’s your profile, just use Firefox’s Profile Manager to make a new profile. All this extra work you did is unnecessary.

    Trying for the 3rd time to post this comment. I don’t think WordPress wants me to tell you how to start Firefox in safe mode, so I’ll spell it out. You use the command line and type the full path to firefox’s executable then type -safe-mode after it before you hit enter.

  9. Hi

    There is a great program you can use to backup firefox called ‘Mozbackup’ its free and will basically copy everything you need including passwords so you can re-install it exactly how you want it, or copy it over to another pc.

  10. The first thing to do is start Firefox in safe mode (C;Program FilesMozilla Firefoxfirefox.exe -safe-mode) to see if it's your profile that's F'd up or if something else is wrong. If it's your profile, just use Firefox's Profile Manager to make a new profile. All this extra work you did is unnecessary.

  11. Hi

    There is a great program you can use to backup firefox called 'Mozbackup' its free and will basically copy everything you need including passwords so you can re-install it exactly how you want it, or copy it over to another pc.

  12. i think i should reinstall firefox, i run the firefox folders for about 3 years, each time i reinstall windows i back up my whole profile because i don’t want to forget something but these days firefox become to be unstable…

  13. i think i should reinstall firefox, i run the firefox folders for about 3 years, each time i reinstall windows i back up my whole profile because i don't want to forget something but these days firefox become to be unstable…

  14. Pandu, if you never have problems uninstalling and re-installing then _why_ are you reading this article? It is probably for people who have issues with the process. For instance, my Firefox won’t even start. Not even in safe mode with add-ons disabled. So I am going ahead and applying these suggestions. I also noticed that I had a FireFox profile under “C:Documents and Settings\Application DataMozillaFirefox” as well as “C:Documents and Settings\Local SettingsApplication DataMozillaFirefox”. The second branch is under the “Local Settings” directory. And I just re-installed after doing all the above while typeing and… when I start FireFox is already running but not responding so I have to close it or reboot. It isn’t in the task manager so I will reboot. I suppose I will come back with results.

  15. Pandu, if you never have problems uninstalling and re-installing then _why_ are you reading this article? It is probably for people who have issues with the process. For instance, my Firefox won't even start. Not even in safe mode with add-ons disabled. So I am going ahead and applying these suggestions. I also noticed that I had a FireFox profile under "C:Documents and SettingsApplication DataMozillaFirefox" as well as "C:Documents and SettingsLocal SettingsApplication DataMozillaFirefox". The second branch is under the "Local Settings" directory. And I just re-installed after doing all the above while typeing and… when I start FireFox is already running but not responding so I have to close it or reboot. It isn't in the task manager so I will reboot. I suppose I will come back with results.

  16. Same result after reboot. “FireFox is already running, but is not responding. To open a new window, you must first close the existing FireFox process, or restart your system.” So that might be one reason, Pandu, that someone might have a discussion about a clean reinstall. The only thing I haven’t tried in the above list is Revo Uninstaller. I will check that out.

  17. Same result after reboot. "FireFox is already running, but is not responding. To open a new window, you must first close the existing FireFox process, or restart your system." So that might be one reason, Pandu, that someone might have a discussion about a clean reinstall. The only thing I haven't tried in the above list is Revo Uninstaller. I will check that out.

  18. when system used a long time, firefox or ie installed more information, which makes it run slowly, but once clean it such as cookie, many infor need re-enter, it will also spend much time, so i often clean up it once a month