Talk:Transferring data to a new profile

From MozillaZine Knowledge Base

This article had all the files for the 3 different apps jumbled together, so I sorted out the browswer and mail/newsgroup files and put them in separate sections. It might be better, though, to simply make 3 sections, one each for Firefox, Thunderbird, and the Suite. Would be better for end-users that way. --wintogreen 15:15, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

If you were going to split them up, I'd prefer just making separate articles.--Np 23:47, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

Wouldn't it be better to put the note in the top section:
Note: Do not copy the whole profile directory. Some of the other files contain absolute path information (like for security certificates), and your profile might not work correctly with old entries from the original profile.--Dickvl 16:12, 24 July 2006 (UTC)



Should we add the Extensions folder to this migration list, with qualifications about no doing so if there were problems on the old profile? i.e. overwrite new profile Extensions folder with old one, delete Ext rdf, cache, ini (if it exists) and let them be rebuilt on restart. This would save people a lot of time.

Even on an old corrupt profile, I haven't yet seen the jars and xpis within the Extension folder itself be corrupted, but migration in this case would not be suggested anyway--Frank Lion 22:30, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

I don't care either way but if you add the "Extensions" folder you'll have to point out that it's for Firefox 1.5+ or Thunderbird 1.5+ only Alice Wyman 02:14, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Sounds fine to me.--Np 02:18, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Fine, I'll run with that, just want to check out a couple of other details first.--Frank Lion 10:56, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Made some formatting changes on the page and added links to the articles.--Dickvl 10:14, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
I removed the reference to Thunderbird from the Browser section and added a second "extensions folder" paragraph under the Mail & NG section for Thunderbird. While I was at it, I added a separate entry for "(number).s" to the Browser section, for Mozilla Suite, even though it's already listed in the Mail section, for a number of reasons; one being, the file is also used by the browser component and it's possible to have a "browser only" install of Mozilla Suite/SM. Alice Wyman 01:15, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Request for comments

Target audience

This article is too technical for most users and requires them to make too many decisions IMHO. The articles name says its about migrating settings but thats not what it actually talks about. It also doesn't deal with the different reasons why you're trying to migrate parts of an existing profile. What are the typical use cases for this article?

Look at the "Recovering data from your old profile" section in Recovering_a_profile_that_suddenly_disappeared , the moving it manually sections in Migrate_from_Mozilla_Suite_or_Netscape_to_Thunderbird and the Combining_two_profiles article. They are examples of specific tasks that could use a common article, if it was written for the right audience.

I suggest we either replace the article with one for each application or split the article into one for browsers and one for mail/news. In either case we should rename them more appropriately and rewrite them to provide more of a task focus. I've added a request for comments template since I think this is a poor quality article that needs a review. Tanstaafl 14:50, 27 May 2007 (UTC)

I don't think that this article is that hard to follow, really, for the general user. It does what it is supposed to do, present a list of files or folders that can be copied to a new profile. We probably could add a couple of easy options such as the Bookmark Manager's Import feature or extensions for importing mbox files but that adds length to the article, which some people who like "short and simple" might see as a disadvantage. If we do end up splitting this article, I think it should be into applcation articles as we're doing with the Profile folder article (see Talk:Profile_folder#Density). We can then include links to those articles in this one. Alice 13:06, 28 May 2007 (UTC)
The profile folder articles also list the important files and what they do. What added value does this article currently provide? My first reaction is it tells me about signon.SignonFileName if I want to recover my saved passwords. Thats it.
I think the comment about keeping it "short and simple" misses the point. Would you rather jump to a heading about recovering saved passwords that gave you step by step instructions (plus troubleshooting advice) or read the entire list of files and then try to decide what to do when you have no clue what they're talking about in some of the files descriptions? Think in terms of the needs of somebody barely computer literate thats overwhelmed by the new concepts they're being forced to deal with, and worried that they'll break something. Or in terms of canned answers to avoid you having to type the answer every time you answered that question in the forum.
The file-centric focus on the article also causes confusion. For example, it implies that Thunderbird profiles don't have a prefs.js file. And if you found it in the discussion of browsers, most Thunderbird users would be upset at the advice that "migrating the prefs.js file from one profile to another is not recommended" since many Thunderbird users have lots of accounts and the biggest problem in creating a new profile is configuring the accounts. That might be good advice if you are reading the article because your old profile was corrupted or damaged but the file-centric focus makes it cumbersome to give advice in the right context. Tanstaafl 21:42, 28 May 2007 (UTC)
I agree that this article needs to be more task-oriented. For example, the files to move are listed in quasi-alphabetical order, when they really should be listed by what the user will accomplish by moving them. I'm indifferent to whether we should split it into application-specific articles.--Np 14:59, 28 May 2007 (UTC)
I've changed the sections around to be what files should the user move for a specific piece of data instead of an alphabetical list of all suggested files. I didn't do anything to the Mail stuff because I'm not familiar with it. Is the thought still to split this in to a browser and a mail article?--Np 19:45, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
The main problem is SeaMonkey, it needs both yet uses some different files than Firefox plus Thunderbird. I'd also have to modify a couple of the files in the browser section to support Thunderbird, there isn't as clean a split between browser and mail as we'd like. Its more like core, browser, and mail. I suggest that we mimic what was done for the profile folder and have one article for each of the three main applications as that makes it simpler for the reader. Tanstaafl 01:28, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Splitting up this article

... there isn't as clean a split between browser and mail as we'd like. Its more like core, browser, and mail. I suggest that we mimic what was done for the profile folder and have one article for each of the three main applications as that makes it simpler for the reader. I have to agree, especially since the changes np has made to the "Browser" section makes the current article disjointed as a whole, especially for SeaMonkey users. That section would really be better as a separate Firefox article. I'll wait for new "- Firefox" and "-Thunderbird" articles to be created, then, if no one else wants to create a new SeaMonkey article, I'll do it. Alice 11:35, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, article was difficult to follow. This should help

Rather than talk about it, I have made some changes. The article is now shorter, and therefore more legible, I believe with no loss of information.

1. Deleted section "Setting Up". Superfluous. How to create a profile belongs somewhere else. The profile must already exist or users could not move data to it.

2. Don't send user to another procedure and yet another article (back up all profiles), when they can see that they are changing just one profile. It takes just one sentence to advise copying the folder.

3. The critical advice that the app. must be closed was previously reduced to a single, easily-missed clause. It's now a whole point.

4. Some files only work in a specific directory? I have said the files are noted below. (They had better be, but this is not very clear.) Can we do better?

5. Headings "Browser" and "Mail ..." changed to indicate that these are lists of files. Some links may be broken by change -- please redirect if necessary. I don't know what "newsgroups" meant in second heading, because there is no "newsgroup" program listed. Only mail programs.--AnotherGuest. 14:43, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

The browser section looks better but the article is still flawed. I created the Thunderbird specific version of this article a while ago, and will probably create a Firefox and SeaMonkey version within a couple of days since it seems Np isn't interested in creating them. I'll try to reuse your changes. When I'm done I'll change any links to this article to point to the application specific ones and redirect this article to the Firefox specific one (which will have links to the two others, just like we did for the profile article). Tanstaafl 19:38, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Article name

The articles name says its about migrating settings but thats not what it actually talks about I think we should rename this article, whether or not se split it up, since it's about copying user data and added extensions. "Settings" isn't really a good overall description. I would suggest something like "Migrating user data to a new profile". Alice 13:06, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

How about "moving" instead of "migrating" as well?--Np 14:59, 28 May 2007 (UTC)
I thought of that but "moving" implies removing from the original location, as in the "Move to Folder" vs "Copy to Folder" options in Windows Explorer. I'd go with "Copying user data to a new profile" if you think it's better than "migrating". Alice 16:54, 28 May 2007 (UTC)
We're dealing with both recovering data from a lost or damaged profile and merging two working profiles. How about "Merging data into another profile"? Tanstaafl 21:42, 28 May 2007 (UTC)
Aren't most people here to create a new profile and then move the settings from their old, messed up one? From that starting point, they don't have two profiles until they actually make the second. Once they do, they're not here to "merge" the two, they're here to get the good stuff out of one, put it in the other, and then abandon one.--Np 00:50, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
"Merging data into another profile" might imply that this article is about combining data files (e.g., when you import bookmarks) such that no data is lost. Following this article may result in replacing existing data with the copied data, and it tells you that... This process will overwrite existing files of the same name so I don't think that "merging data" quite fits. Assuming that no one likes "migrating data" or "copying data" then how about simply "Transferring data to a new profile"? Alice 01:13, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
That sounds good. Tanstaafl 01:39, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
OK, I'll go ahead and rename this article, "Transferring data to a new profile". Alice 15:22, 29 May 2007 (UTC)


I restored the links to the customized versions of this article for Firefox and Thunderbird. I thought I had created one for SeaMonkey a couple of months ago but a search couldn't find it and its not in the profiles category. Did somebody drastically rename it or delete it? My impression was that we had agreed to keep this article mainly as a placeholder to redirect users to customized version of this article, and as a fallback for applications such as Sunbird that weren't likely to get a customized version. Tanstaafl 00:11, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

I know you were planning on creating a customized article for SeaMonkey but nothing ever came of it. It's just as well if you keep this article as-is, or even revert it to a former version like this, without all the browser subsections, whether or not a SeaMonkey article emerges. To tell the truth, I preferred it that way.... just a list of files for browser and mail, simple and basic, with a brief description of each file. When I transfer data to a new profile, all I need to know are which files to copy. The old version could have been organized a bit better, though, with the important files first, and the mail section could have included the inbox sent drafts templates and other mbox files as transfer candidates (by renaming them oldinbox, oldsent, etc, and placing in a Mail account folder), instead of just listing the Mail folder with the link but, in general, I think it was OK. Alice 11:04, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
I suspect the reason you prefer the old style for this article is because you're an advanced user. The changes were an attempt to make it easier for a normal user. I'll keep this article as-is (except for maintenance as needed). Tanstaafl 11:35, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Article reformat and reordering of file lists

I reorganized this article so that both Browser and Mail sections are formatted similarly. That got rid of the huge Table of Contents that only included files in the Browser section. I then reordered the file lists to place the "chrome" files and folders last and highlighted each filename to make it easier for users to see what they need to copy. I also made it clearer in the Intro that there are other articles available for more detailed instructions for Firefox and Thunderbird, by placing the other related articles in a new "See also" section. Alice 14:10, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

needs update for Firefox 3!

I think the key files might include

  • places.sqlite - your bookmarks, places, history, etc.
  • urlclassifier2.sqlite - ?
  • bookmarks.html - ?, aren't bookmarks in Places? Maybe this is an unneeded backup
  • formhistory.sqlite
  • permissions.sqlite
  • formhistory.dat - ? needed?
  • cookies.sqlite

^ 17 June 2008 Spage

That information is included in the Transferring data to a new profile - Firefox article. I'll add a note that Firefox 3 users should use that article instead of this one. Alice 19:46, 18 June 2008 (UTC)