the case of the disappearing desktop data
September 15, 2006 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Firefox-Is-On-CrackFilter: I deleted a non-default Firefox profile and things got deleted from my desktop...not just icons, but folders that I was storing there. How do I recover them?

The long story is that my computer got unplugged while it was on, and when I turned it back on, Firefox was screwed up: all of the tweaks I'd made (icons I'd added to the toolbar, any bookmarks--luckily I mostly use, additional searchbox engines...but not saved passwords, cookies, or extensions) were gone. Not a big deal, but when I re-tweaked everything, the changes disappeared each time I closed and re-opened Firefox.

I made a new Firefox profile to see if the problem would carry over to the new profile. It didn't. I was going to simply set everything up again in the new profile, but then I decided I might as well back up my old profile entirely, uninstall Firefox completely, and reinstall it. I figured that first I'd delete the new profile I'd just made so that I could be 100% sure that the profile I backed up was the (old) one I wanted and not the new one.

When I deleted the new profile (using the firefox profile manager), suddenly anything on my desktop that was actually a file (as opposed to a shortcut) disappeared. These files aren't in the recycle bin and don't show up when I search for them by name in Explorer. It was probably stupid of me to be storing files on the desktop instead of in My Documents, but what can I do to get them back? This seems really bizarre.
posted by needs more cowbell to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
(I'm mainly interested in getting the stuff from my desktop back, but if anyone knows what might have caused the Firefox problem or how to fix that, that would be great, too.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:48 PM on September 15, 2006

(also, because I didn't specify: Windows XP Pro)
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:51 PM on September 15, 2006

Try a system restore?
posted by dash_slot- at 1:58 PM on September 15, 2006

I keep system restore disabled because I have a fairly old computer which only takes the ridiculously expensive RDRAM :/ Keeping systems restore off speeds it up.

Oh well. It doesn't look like I'll be able to get the stuff back, but I don't think it was anything vital, fortunately. I guess this is a good kick in the butt to prompt me to back things up.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:08 PM on September 15, 2006

I'd love to know how & why deleting a browser profile - esp. the esteemed Firefox - can result in this.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:28 PM on September 15, 2006

... my computer got unplugged while it was on ...
Cross-linked files or directories - the reason his FF profile was corrupt is because some of it was pointing to his WinXP desktop config.

And likely other places too. I'd be checking all the important files - documents, photos, MP3s, porn stash, etc - on that disk.

Lesson #1: In situations like that, do a very careful chkdsk / scandisk first!
posted by Pinback at 2:38 PM on September 15, 2006

What should I be doing to check those things? Anything besides running chkdsk?

Also, I'm curious--what sorts of things from my FF profile would have been pointing to my desktop configuration? I think my default location to save a file to was the desktop, would it be that sort of thing?
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:06 PM on September 15, 2006

Something else I realized: I actually created two new profiles while I was playing around with Firefox after it got wacky. One of them I put (when I was creating it) on the desktop itself, with the intent that I would be able to easily look at the components of a Firefox profile. (i.e. which folders/files contain passwords, extensions, etc.). The other one I put in the default location.

But--and this is the weird part--the profile that I deleted was the one in the regular default place that Firefox saves profile information--in "application data" or whatever, not the one I'd saved on the desktop. In fact, I actually manually deleted all of the Firefox profile folders from my desktop a few minutes before deleting the other profile using Firefox profile manager, and those manually deleted files were the only ones in the recycle bin. (And I was able to fully restore them.) (Deleting those files manually is not what deleted the other stuff from the desktop.) Strange.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:25 PM on September 15, 2006

You might try the Mozillazine forums - the top forum on the list (Firefox support) allows guest posting if you don't want to register.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:51 PM on September 15, 2006

One of them I put (when I was creating it) on the desktop itself,

That sounds like a terrible idea :P

It also sounds like firefox just assums it is responsible for every file in the profile directory, in this case your desktop..
posted by Chuckles at 10:21 PM on September 15, 2006

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