A browser is a complicated piece of software. Between security features, plugins, extensions, and themes, it's easy for something to go wrong. It's good then that a full browser reset will fix most problems. Let's see how to do a browser reset without losing our settings and website passwords.
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A browser reset is also great if we have unwanted toolbars or ad showing add-ons on our browser, installed by an adware malware.
Table of Contents
- How to do a full backup of the browser settings & passwords
- Perform a browser reset on Firefox
- Perform a browser reset on Chrome
- Did a browser reset help with your problem?
How to do a full backup of the browser settings & passwords
A browser reset will delete everything within our browser, to make it as good as new. But this means that it will remove all our settings and saved passwords too. And we can't have any of that, can we now?
What's good is that modern versions of Chrome and Firefox allow us to back up our settings on the Internet. This way, it's easy to recover the settings and passwords after the browser reset.
Backup Chrome settings and passwords
To backup all our settings and passwords on Chrome, we just need to connect it with our Google Account.
When we first install chrome, this prompt is the first thing we see.
If we chose "No thanks" back then, we will still find this option from the menu.
We connect to our Google account, with the same credentials we use for Gmail or Google+. After that, we can click on "Advanced" to see what's synced.
Chrome sync will backup the most important aspects of our browser.
There is no progress indicator for the backup. We should give it five minutes or so to sync everything, before performing the browser reset.
Firefox settings and passwords backup
To back up all our personal settings in Firefox, we just select "Sign in to Sync" on the menu.
We click on Get started...
...and then enter a valid email, a password, and a birth date.
We have no idea why only people under 25 get a specific date, and everyone else gets the generic "1990 or Earlier".
Soon we receive an email to confirm our account...
...and that's it. We now have Firefox Sync working its magic.
By clicking on Manage, we get to see what this mode will sync.
As with Chrome, there is no progress indicator, so we give it a couple of minutes to sync.
Perform a browser reset on Firefox
On Firefox, there are two ways to do a browser reset. We can do a Firefox "Refresh". Or we can take the nuclear option and delete our whole profile.
While a full browser reset would erase everything, Firefox Refresh will keep our personal data:
- •Browsing History
- •Open windows, tabs and tab groups
- •Personal dictionary
- •Web form auto-fill information
This seems to make setting up Firefox Sync redundant. But redundancy is the most important aspect of backing up data. Without it, a RAID would become AID.
Firefox Refresh will remove:
- •Added search engines
- •Dom storage
- •Download actions
- •Download history
- •Extensions and themes
- •Modified Preferences
- •Plugin settings
- •Security settings
- •Social features
- •Toolbar customizations
- •User styles
- •Website permissions
To do a Firefox Refresh, we need to type in the URL field:
If Firefox is too damaged to reach the about:support screen, there is an alternate way to start a Refresh.
We just need to open a "Run" dialogue, by pressing the Windows key + R, and type:
This will open the Firefox Safe Mode window, which gives us the choice to Refresh Firefox.
Either way, after the browser reset, Firefox copies our old profile data on the desktop, in a folder named "Old Firefox Data".
This is something like the Windows.old folder, but easier to delete. Firefox keeps it in case the Refresh didn't help with the problem. This way, we can restore the deleted settings to the new profile.
We will see how to find the profile in the next section.
Deleting our Firefox profile
This is the last resort kind of solution, in case we can't even open Firefox in Safe Mode.
With Firefox closed, we open a "Run" window with Win+R and type:
This will open the Mozilla folder that has the Firefox profiles.
We just rename the Firefox folder to anything else, e.g. "Firefox Backup".
Next time we open Firefox, it will create a new profile - and a new "Firefox" folder.
Firefox will open as if we just installed it for the first time, quick tour and all.
Restoring our Firefox profile
If renaming the old profile didn't fix our problem, we can restore the previous profile.
We just close the browser and open both the Firefox folder and the old folder (Firefox Backup, in the example) in new windows.
In both folders, we open the "Profiles" sub-folder.
Then we open the randomly named profile folders.
Finally, we drag all the contents from the old (Firefox Backup) profile folder to the current profile folder...
...and choose to "Replace the files in the destination".
With this, we have restored the old profile.
Perform a browser reset on Chrome
On Chrome, like Firefox, there are two ways to do a browser reset. We can start a browser reset from within Chrome. Or we can take the nuclear option and delete our whole profile.
Browser reset from within Chrome
We just click on Settings, within the Chrome menu...
...scroll to the bottom of the page, click on "Show advanced settings"...
...and from the scroll to the new bottom of the page, and select "Reset settings".
If we want, we can uncheck the "help make Google Chrome better..." before clicking "Reset". Google already knows enough about us.
Unlike Firefox, Google Chrome doesn't offer a backup solution for the browser reset.
Deleting our Chrome profile
Deleting our profile is like taking a sledgehammer to Chrome. It is an option only if Chrome is so damaged we can't even start it.
With Chrome closed, we open a "Run" window with Win+R and type:
This will open the AppData\Roaming folder. We go one level up, to AppData.
Then we navigate to Local -> Google.
There we rename the "Chrome" folder, e.g. "Chrome Backup".
Next time we open Chrome, it will create a new "Chrome" folder within AppData\Local\Google. It will also start fresh with the prompt to sign in.
Restoring our Chrome profile
If renaming the Chrome profile was fruitless, we can restore the old profile.
We just close the browser and delete "Chrome" within AppData\Local\Google.
Then we rename the old folder back to "Chrome".
This will restore the old Chrome profile, exactly as it was.
Did a browser reset help with your problem?
Leave us a comment if you had a browser problem, and a browser reset helped to solve it.
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