I Can No Longer Recommend Google Browser Sync

As those who know me will know, I tend to change distros a lot. One of the problems I have encountered with this is that you lose your internet browser bookmarks and tend to forget your passwords and this rapidly becomes a pain. One of the solutions to this is to use the Google Browser Sync Firefox addon.

The program itself (if we assume, as I did, that it works flawlessly) is a godsend. It saves your bookmark list to a Google server along with your passwords, your cookies and the tabs/windows you last looked at. It’s also configurable, in a very limited sense, so you don’t have to save everything. As I said, it’s useful if you reinstall a lot but even more so if you wish to keep things sync’d across multiple PCs. And, because it’s Google, you feel all safe and helped.

But. A couple of months ago I reinstalled a distro and reinstalled the addon and discovered that all my bookmarks had gone. My passwords appeared to have been saved and worked, but all my carefully gathered bookmarks had disappeared. It wasn’t a total loss – I’m a bit of a hoarder and tend to save things even after they cease to be useful, so it was a good time to clear out my bookmarks and start again. But it was perturbing and so I hit the search trail – Google, not unsurprisingly.

I discovered that I am not alone. On a Google discussion group, there is a thread called “Wrath of GBS” which is now legendary. There are some workarounds discussed but none of them worked for me. Which seems par for the course. Michael Parekh seems to have pretty much the same experience. Well, he seems to have been affected more than me. By the way, I am, of course, aware that Firefox provides a backup version of your bookmarks – but if you reinstall your entire OS, that isn’t any help.

It seems that Google have ceased work on the addon, beyond a few people looking at it as part of the famous “20% work” at Google. (see here and here for a wee bit more detail) If true, this is a huge shame – this would not have been so attractive to me without the Google name.

So, having lost everything again today, I am looking into alternatives. Foxmarks is certainly an option, but what I want is a unified bookmark and password synchroniser. I am, though, resigned to using two projects for this.

So, if you want to recommend Google Browser Sync, go ahead. But expect me to be right next to you shaking my head 🙂


Posted on 8 July, 2007, in Computer Stuff, Rants and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Well, don’t just sit there! Create your own fork! 😉

  2. That assumes programming knowledge and a modicum of talent though. I think I see a flaw in your cunning plan… 😉

  3. So many good ideas have to be abandoned simply because they just won’t work…

  4. It’s a real tragedy 😆

  5. There are some days I wish (not that I couldn't if I tried, I just feel I have better things to do) I could program. I've had so many ideas, I'm sure the software world would be a better place if I could program them. I'm sure I could fit a world peace program somewhere in the mix.. 😉

  6. Yeah, if only eh? 🙂

  7. Just save ~/.mozilla on a different parition, and you are not going to lose your bookmarks anymore.

  8. BlackNight – I agree, not really something I can do in retrospect though 🙂

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  9. I use the official del.icio.us plugin for Firefox for this. Works like a charm when shifting from one platform to the other:


  10. SO how did things turn out with your bookmarking situation? Did you try Foxmarks out yet? I bookmark alot of pages but i usually back them all up using a notepad file.

  11. I did use Foxmarks for a while, but now I use FEBE as it backs up everything – passwords, bookmarks, plugins, settings and so on. Much better.

  12. Create your own fork!

  13. mmm, I’d love to except that I’d need some sort of programming skills 🙂

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  14. I like you endlessly reinstall and have found that there are other ways just far more cumbersome for this. I won’t go into them but you know the manual way to get it done. Maybe someone should come up with a cute little script, a low tech way if you will, to do this and then we would all be happy.

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  15. I find FEBE to be a great replacement for it – it backs up everything, including your plugins and passwords.

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  16. Sorry about your lost bookmarks. Can anyone recommend the best product to sync my MS Outlook email across several PCs? Is MS Exchange server the best?

    • Either that or keeping your .ost and .pst files on a server rather than your hard drive – this has it’s own batch of problems though….

  17. I didn’t like Google Browser Sync, after I had some problems with it. I save my all passwords in my eMail to be sure.

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