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Moving to a Profile per Install Architecture

With Firefox 67 you’ll be able to run different Firefox installs side by side by default.

Supporting profiles per installation is a feature that has been requested by pre-release users for a long time now and we’re pleased to announce that starting with Firefox 67 users will be able to run different installs of Firefox side by side without needing to manage profiles.

What are profiles?

Firefox saves information such as bookmarks, passwords and user preferences in a set of files called your profile. This profile is stored in a location separate from the Firefox program files.

More details on profiles are can be found here.

What changes are we making to profiles in Firefox 67?

Previously, all Firefox versions shared a single profile by default. With Firefox 67, Firefox will begin using a dedicated profile for each Firefox version (including Nightly, Beta, Developer Edition, and ESR). This will make Firefox more stable when switching between versions on the same computer and will also allow you to run different Firefox installations at the same time:

  • You have not lost any personal data or customizations. Any previous profile data is saved and associated with the first Firefox installation that was opened after this change.
  • Starting with Firefox 67, Firefox installations will now have separate profiles. This will apply to Nightly 67 initially and then to all versions of release 67 and above as the  change makes it way to Developer Edition, Beta, Firefox, and ESR.

What are my options?

If you do nothing, your profile data will be different on each version of Firefox.

If you would like the information you save to Firefox to be the same on all versions, you can use a Firefox Account to keep them in sync.

Sync is the easiest way to make your profiles consistent on all of your versions of Firefox. You also get additional benefits like sending tabs and secure password storage. Get started with Sync here.

You will not lose any personal data or customizations. Any previous profile data is safe and attached to the first Firefox installation that was opened after this change.

Users of only one Firefox install or users of multiple Firefox installs who already had set different profiles for different installations will not notice the change

We really hope that this change will make it simpler for Firefox users to start running Nightly. If you come across a bug or have any suggestions we really welcome your input through our support channels.

What if I already use separate profiles for my different Firefox installations?

Users who already have created manually separate profile for different installations will not notice the change (this has been the advised procedure on Nightly for a while).

33 comments on “Moving to a Profile per Install Architecture”

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  1. Luca wrote on

    I sincerely did not understande completely…

    Actually I have Firefox updated release and contemporary Firefox Developer Edition installed on my system and each one already has each profile (it was by default just from first time, I did not explicitly set different profiles for both of them) and each one, when updated to its own new version continue to use previous profile.

    So this behaviour will continue?

    Actually I have release 64 installed, let’s suppose that it could be directly the final 67 one, when 68 will become the final release, it will create another profile on my system, and then it will re-happen when future 69 will become available?

    Or maybe, since 67 it will be possible to have installed contemporary different versions such as 67, 68, 69, and so on?

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      Firefox Developer Edition has had its own separate profile for a while now. This change is about adding that feature to the other channels of Firefox like Nightly. If all you have is Firefox Release and Firefox Developer Edition then you should see no change as this feature rolls out.

      Reply

      1. Luca wrote on

        Thanks, the best answer!

        Reply

  2. Simon wrote on

    I assume there’s no impact on automation tools like Selenium, etc, which automatically create profiles for their own use when running Firefox instances?

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      Selenium (and most other tools that do this sort of thing) use command line arguments to select the profile to use. These are unaffected by this change.

      Reply

      1. Simon wrote on

        So it’s just about default behaviour… figured that would be the case, but thought I’d check.

        Reply

  3. nellaiseemai wrote on

    This is really good move. Although there are ways to create individual profiles for each category of firefox, making it default really helps many. Currently Firefox Developer creates its own profile along with other category of firefox. I am using Firefox nightly and Firefox Developer edition with FDE being my default browser. This new process will make way to install Firefox Beta also which I can make my default browser then. Thanks.

    Reply

  4. FAb wrote on

    Well, I am not sure but :
    I use a Firefox in my Linux box (.deb) with 4 profiles :
    – Normal
    – a profile for “Exploitation and documentation” which is sync’ed
    – a profile for personal usage (sync’ed too)
    – a profile for personal usage shared with my wife (sync’ed too)
    For WebDev I now use a Firefox Dev Edition:
    – Profile WebDev (add-ons)

    How should I migrate ?
    Thanks

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      It sounds like you are using the first 4 profiles with the same install of Firefox. Presumably you are using command line arguments or the profile manager to select between them. You will see no change with that approach when this lands. And developer edition already used a separate profile by default, that will continue. So there is probably nothing you need to do to maintain the status quo.

      Reply

  5. Andreas K wrote on

    How about adding a good profile management and an easy way to start different profiles and to switch between profiles?

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      I agree it would be nice to improve the profile manager. It is fairly functional for the things we want right now though. What things do you think are missing?

      Reply

  6. nellaiseemai wrote on

    Does this mean all my firefox installations need to be at least version 67 for this new set up to work? Right now only Firefox Nightly hits version 67. Thanks.

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      Yes, this feature only comes with Firefox 67 and later.

      Reply

      1. nellaiseemai wrote on

        Thanks. Currently I run Firefox Dev and Firefox nightly. I would like to test beta as well in parallel. Creating a different profile for each versions is the feature I have been long time. Great..

        Reply

  7. Marcus wrote on

    I just came across this. Why was the old way of syncing between profiles skipped? I do not like the idea of having to rely on a server, which is most of the time – because of working in a firewalled environment – not available. Is there no other way to sync the profiles between different Firefox versions? If not, I guess, that will be the end of working with Firefox Nightly.

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      I’m not sure what old way you’re referring to.

      Reply

  8. J wrote on

    I use only Nightly. I was a bit horrified to launch it today after an update and be presented with an empty browser profile and a page telling me that the only way to get my profile data back was to sign up for a web service provided by Mozilla. Do you guys really not understand how bad that looks? The data is right there sitting in my profile folder.

    You can just run firefox with the –profilemanager command line flag, select the default profile rather than default-nightly and ensure “always start with this profile without asking” is checked. Back to normal, no Firefox account needed. (Note, this might be a bad idea if you use other Firefoxes alongside Nightly.)

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      Right it’s the last point (other Firefoxes alongside Nightly) that we’re trying to solve here. Are you already doing that? Because that is the case where you should have been pushed to a new profile. If not can you file a bug at https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/enter_bug.cgi?product=Toolkit&component=Startup+and+Profile+System with more information so we can figure out what happened here?

      Reply

  9. Daniel Serodio wrote on

    I just updated my Firefox beta and it created a new profile. I was able to “import” my settings and extensions using Firefox Sync, but my open tabs (which are set to sync) and cookies were not imported.
    How can I import my open tabs and cookies from the previous profile?

    Also, I think the “Important News: Changes to your Firefox profile” page that opened when I launched Firefox should have a link to this page to give users more context about the change.

    Reply

    1. Ledgeri wrote on

      If you still have all of your previous profile data, in the user, appdata, roaming route you can copy your old sessionsore file (or from the backups folder within the same place, but with renaming) into the new profile.

      Reply

  10. Ledgeri wrote on

    I am just started exploring the profiles, but i am exited about this feature:

    Will we be able to run two ff instances at the same time?
    I mean if i would have a “for work” instance, and a “for fun”, but the same version of the main branch, and one is already running, would i be able to open the other one to work in it, while the other running too?
    If yes, and e.g. a program wants to open a link, by pressing a button (so no option to copy the link to the clipboard) how could we select wich open it? (Sometimes when i am in private mode, i accidently click to links in other programs, what opens the main browser session… that is frustrating eventually)

    Reply

  11. Ryan Chow wrote on

    Firefox 67 and Beta are still shared the same profile. The later installation replaced the current one.

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      Can you file a bug so we can track why this is happening?

      Reply

  12. Daniel EE wrote on

    I just use the regular version of Firefox and have never delved into the developer, nightly or any other version. I need stability in a browser, not bleeding edge bells and whistles.
    The notification about a new version that pops up in Firefox lacks any serious indication about the major changes it is about to implement in the new version; and after the installation, the end-user suddenly finds their stable environment turned upside down with hours of troubleshooting and changes to their environment to sort out.
    Why do you not prominently warn the user that a paradigm shift is coming in this new version so as to let them decide if it’s worth upgrading or not?

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      In your situation there should have been no changes. I’d love it if you could file a bug so we could try to track down what has gone on.

      Reply

  13. Daniel EE wrote on

    You’re recent update from 66 to 67 also wiped out all of my bookmarks…hundreds of bookmarks.

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      They should still be there in the previous default profile. You should be able to go to about:profiles and switch back to it.

      Reply

  14. Wayne Woods wrote on

    I have only one installation of Firefox now. I used to use the Nightly until about two months ago, but I uninstalled it when it first removed my profile because of this new feature. So I continued to use the release version, but when I went ot use it today I got the same message and my profile, bookmarks and most importantly passwords are all gone. I see it has updated to x64 and the x32 version is now empty. The message says not to worry because my profile is still available in another installation, however this IS no other installation. Nor does it say how I can recover that profile to use in my new installation and my web searches all mention a “profile manager” that I can’t find.

    “You have not lost any personal data or customizations. Any previous profile data is saved and associated with the first Firefox installation that was opened after this change.” – no, it isn’t. It’s using a blank profile.

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      You can use about:profiles to switch back to your previous profile. I’d be interested to know why this happened to you, if you could file a bug so we can track it down that would be very helpful.

      Reply

  15. Nikolas wrote on

    Can this mean that I can now use ff67 (beta) also together with the previous customizable 56.0.2 beloved version?

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      Yes that should work.

      Reply

  16. Val wrote on

    Let me go straight to the conclusion: I’m very angry against Mozilla.
    Such a critical change should have been widely announced to end users (I’m not talking about nightly users, but common end users) in advance + offer users the possibility to refuse this change at first launch of FF 67 (meaning a “Quit” button BEFORE anything is changed to users Profile).
    Explanation of my anger: I use to share the same Profile between two GNU/Linux distros installed on the same computer. One is my main distro, the other one helps me from time to time to achieve some particular tasks. But I like to have the exact same Firefox configuration in both. Sadly, the very first FF 67 launch occurred while I was using my second distro (and while I was still unaware of this upcoming critical change in Profiles management), meaning that today, I no longer have access to my Profile in my main distro! Too late, FF 67 changes took place, no (simple) way to access my Profile again 🙁
    I’m very very angry.

    Reply

    1. Dave Townsend wrote on

      Using the same profile with different versions of Firefox has always been unsupported since it can cause quite serious problem. You should still see your previous profile listed in about:profiles.

      Reply

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