Firefox Sync allows you to access your open tabs, bookmarks, history, passwords and preferences everywhere, whether you’re using a laptop, desktop or smartphone. Firefox Sync also works as a backup for your browser data.
Firefox Sync’s local encryption keeps your synced data private, but complicates the setup process. Setting up sync isn’t just a matter of logging in with the same password everywhere.
Start by selecting “Set Up Sync” in the Firefox menu. You can also open Firefox’s Options window, click over to the Sync pane and click the “Set Up Firefox Sync” link.
If you’re a new user, you’ll have to create a Firefox sync account.
One interesting option you’ll find here is the server selection box — organizations can set up their own Firefox Sync servers instead of using Mozilla’s.
Firefox will encrypt your browser data and store it on the Firefox Sync servers. No one can view your data without knowing your key.
Customize the types of data Firefox syncs by clicking the Sync Options button while setting up Sync, or opening Firefox’s options window and clicking over to the Sync pane. From here, you can also set a name to identify your computer.
Adding a Device
Add another device by selecting “Set Up Sync” in its the Firefox menu and clicking “I Have an Account.” You’ll see a code.
Go back to your first device, open Firefox’s options window, click over to the Sync pane and select “Pair a Device.”
You’ll be asked to enter the code from the other device.
Once you have, the two devices will be paired.
Firefox on Your Smartphone
Tap the “Pair a Device” link on the home screen and enter the code it provides one one of your paired computers.
Once it’s paired, you can tap the “Tabs From Your Other Computers” option to see open tabs, bookmarks and history entries.
Sync Recovery Key
Firefox Sync encrypts your data with a local key, which is stored on your devices and not uploaded to Firefox Sync’s servers. If you lose your key on all devices — for example, by reformatting all paired devices at once — you can’t access your stored data without your recovery key. You’ll have to click the “I Don’t Have the Device With Me” link after clicking “I Have an Account” in the setup process. If you lose your key, you’ll have to reset your data and lose all data stored on the server.
To do this, you’ll want to open the options window, click over to the Sync pane, click the Manage Account menu and select the “My Recovery Key” option.
Save the recovery key to a safe place or print it out for safe keeping.
If you encounter problems with Sync, you can use the Reset Sync option in the Manage Account menu.
Use the options here to replace the data on the server with data from specific computers. You could also change your recovery key from the My Recovery Key screen to erase data stored on the server.
Now you’re ready to go — you’ve got your Firefox data with you everywhere. No more recreating the same bookmarks on all your computers or struggling to remember what web pages you were reading on your other computer.
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.
- Published 02/13/12