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Firefox Profile Manager soon to be removed


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firefox.pngA unique feature of Mozilla Firefox and its Gecko-based browser cousins is the Profile Manager, which allows each user to have multiple Firefox profiles (where bookmarks, add-ons, and other user data are stored). This is very useful to developers and testers - they can use separate profiles to try new browser versions or add-ons without risk of corrupting their regular profile. A user can also have different profiles for different purposes - one set of bookmarks and/or add-ons for work and another for personal use, for instance.

Many users don't know about it, though - profiles are in a hidden directory by default, and the Profile Manager is also hidden, accessed by command line. Not without cause, either; serious data loss hazards exist for those who create profiles in the wrong location, then delete the files with the Profile Manager. Profile files are created directly in the folder specified, when not using the default location. Deleting the files removes everything in the folder. Some have even wiped their entire system partition! Aside from a strong warning in the profile creation dialog, though, it remains the same as it's been since before Firefox 1.0.

That's supposed to change soon. Mozilla is planning to remove the Profile Manager from Firefox, "after Firefox 4.0" (How long after is not clear). When this change is implemented it should speed up starting of Firefox - since it will no longer be loading the hidden Profile Manager at startup - as well as eliminating a data loss hazard. As a replacement, A couple of Mozilla developers have created a new external Profile Manager.

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