Sunday, July 15, 2007

Google Browser Sync - two months in...

Around two months ago I stumbled across the Google Browser Sync (GBS) tool for Firefox.

I've been using it almost daily ever since.

Occasionally it presents me with an authentication password challenge to which I enter my gMail password and it is happy.  That is a different password than the "Security PIN" that GBS established when you you access your bookmark sync data off the Google servers on a new kinda confused me at first as the password they are wanting doesn't seem intuitively clear to me, but once you figure out what it is asking for, you don't forget a second time.

Operationally it has functioned almost flawlessly, allowing me to keep my Firefox bookmark store synced between my desktop system and our Vista laptop that I have taken over.

Every so often, it will add some extra "separator" lines in my bookmark folders; but those seem to be limited to the one or two primary bookmark folders I work out of for my "to be blogged" collection of links.

Ummm...Say what?

So last night was a bit of a surprise.

I had done some extensive link-collecting for two or three upcoming posts that morning on my desktop system.  Shut down and all was well.

When I logged onto the Vista notebook last night to do some last minute weather radar checks to see how the lightning show was progressing, I fired up Firefox and GBS asked me for my challenge password. I provided it and the bookmarks began disappearing right before my eyes off my toolbar.  Yikes!

When it was all done, four or five of my primary bookmark folders were gone and my "to be blogged" folder only had the items in there from the week before.

So it looked like somehow all my bookmarks had been corrupted in the syncing process.

Oh, bother.

Damage Mitigation

I didn't get too stressed out as I luckily had a contingency for this event.

This morning I logged back into my desktop system and restored my Firefox bookmarks from a backup file I make every day or so off my primary system.

I have a file on my desktop named "copy FF bookmarks.bat" and in this Windows batch file is the following code (probably not as efficient as it could be):

cd Documents and Settings
cd Claus
cd Application Data
cd Mozilla
cd Firefox
cd Profiles
cd 98s6m27q.ClausV

xcopy bookmarks.html "C:\Documents and Settings\Claus\Desktop" /w


You would need to change it up a bit to reflect your own Firefox profile name and Windows user folder names in the areas highlighted.

What this does is allow me to semi-automatically copy my Firefox bookmarks file to my desktop, where I rename them and place them into a zip archive.  I'm so used to doing this it is second nature and takes like 35 seconds to do.

So this morning I just found my archived bookmarks file from the previous morning's work, renamed it back to "bookmarks.html" and copied it into my Firefox profile folder (after closing out Firefox), overwriting the whacked one.  I also renamed it and copied it as "bookmarks.bak" as well to ensure the "backup" version kept in the Firefox profile folder matched my new original.

I then relaunched Firefox and did a "Full Refresh" action in Google Browser Sync Settings.

A few extra separator line fixes again and everything was back to before.

Mischief Managed

I'm not sure why the Google Sync store got so scrambled.  It is possible I shut down my pc before it had enough time to update the sync...or maybe it didn't sync after-all and I just didn't notice.

Anyway, by having a backup of my Firefox bookmarks.html file handy, it was no stress at all putting everything right again.



Anonymous said...


I have had the same kinds of weird issues with Google Browser Sync, so I've reverted back to Foxmarks. It is much more reliable, if less feature rich. I'll take reliability any day....

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know what you mean.

I've heard some occasional problems with Google Browser Sync as well. In two months this was my first "serious" hick-up so I'm not too worked up about it (as I had a backup) but I agree; if reliability becomes more of a problem I also might switch over to Foxmarks as a solution.

I just don't like the fact that Foxmarks doesn't (currently) support encryption while Google Browser Sync does.