Uninstalling profile deleted large amount of files not belonging to it

RESOLVED INVALID

Status

()

--
critical
RESOLVED INVALID
14 years ago
5 years ago

People

(Reporter: pobox, Assigned: benjamin)

Tracking

({dataloss})

Firefox Tracking Flags

(Not tracked)

Details

(Whiteboard: DO NOT REOPEN THIS BUG!)

(Reporter)

Description

14 years ago
User-Agent:       Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7.3) Gecko/20040910
Build Identifier: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7.3) Gecko/20040910

Firfox unlike Mozilla does not create a folder with the name of the profile in
order to place its profile data there. It just unloads the profile data in the
destination folder. As I value my profile data very much I have special location
for such valuable data. I pointed the profile dialogue there, gave the profile a
name and created it. This unloaded large amount of Firefox stuff chaotically
among my other folders. I dediced to correct this and instructed Firefox to
delete the profile. Lethal error - Firefox deleted not only the profile, but
almost 90% of the other files and folders. Madness... I have no words.

Reproducible: Always
Steps to Reproduce:
I am sorry, but I have no machine where to test such deadly behaviour. I spent
long time recovering my files from archive and had to reinstall the whole
computer. No Firefox for the time being.

Comment 1

14 years ago
(In reply to comment #0)
> 
> Firfox unlike Mozilla does not create a folder with the name of the profile in
> order to place its profile data there. It just unloads the profile data in the
> destination folder.

Um, no it doesn't.  The default profile location is Documents and
Settings\<UserName>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox on an XP system.

> destination folder. As I value my profile data very much I have special location
> for such valuable data. I pointed the profile dialogue there, gave the profile a
> name and created it. This unloaded large amount of Firefox stuff chaotically
> among my other folders. I dediced to correct this and instructed Firefox to
> delete the profile.

You opened Profile Manager and deleted the profile?  Or you did an uninstall of
the program from Add/Remove Programs?

Where exactly was your profile?  And your FF installation, for that matter?
(Reporter)

Comment 2

14 years ago
The profile manager was open. When I created the profile I had the target folder
open as well and I saw how FF unloads the profile files among my other stuff
instead of creating a folder with the profile name and putting them in. Then -
while having the profile manager still open - I clicked on the profile and
clicked on Delete as I did not want to handpick and delete the profile files
among my other files. I thought FF knows its files and will just remove them.
And I noticed with horror how not only the FF stuff started to disappear by how
my folders started to disappear as well (from the folder where I wanted to place
the profile folder).

The FF installation went wherever it went by default. On C in Program files (on
German Windows XP). I tried to create the profile on my data disk (D or E -
can't remember) as I like to keep it on a safe place together with all my other
valuable data.

I hope this helps.

I hope for a good FF product, but for now I am a bit stressed.
(Assignee)

Comment 3

14 years ago
Firefox uses the folder you specify explicitly, it does not create a sub-folder.
So if you want your profile data kept somewhere in C:\MyStuff, you should
specify    to create a new profile in C:\MyStuff\Firefox

So the behavior you describe is by design. This was changed at the request of
many corporate system administrators who wanted to specify the exact folder to
use as the profile folder.
Status: UNCONFIRMED → RESOLVED
Last Resolved: 14 years ago
Resolution: --- → INVALID

Comment 4

14 years ago
This may be an invalid bug by terms of software logic. But it is a serious bug
by the misleading dialog box. There should be a warning that you are going to
delete the whole folder appointed to the profile not even the files belonging to
the profile. Nobody can help people who cannot read, but you can help people by
explaining what your program is going to do.
Please reopen and resolve the bug. My files are gone yesterday. 
(Reporter)

Comment 5

14 years ago
I agree with that.

Also - the corporate system administrators (who have requested it) are more
skilled than the simple home users. I think Firefox must be friendlier towards
the simple home users before it is easy to use by the corporate system
administrators.
Status: RESOLVED → UNCONFIRMED
Resolution: INVALID → ---
(Assignee)

Comment 6

14 years ago
The profile manager is not designed for "simple home users", who should normally
never see it. Still INVALID (or WONTFIX).
Status: UNCONFIRMED → RESOLVED
Last Resolved: 14 years ago14 years ago
Resolution: --- → INVALID

Comment 7

14 years ago
(In reply to comment #6)
> The profile manager is not designed for "simple home users", who should normally
> never see it. Still INVALID (or WONTFIX).

You are wrong. Look at your forums! For example:
http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?p=1317094#1317094
(Reporter)

Comment 8

14 years ago
I personally find comment #6 quite arrogant. Things should be made to work and
not surrounded by a yellow tape, unless it is hopelessly broken (which I think
the profile manager is - at least on a conceptual level). If something is there
- people will use it. The possibility to manage profiles is very nice and it
should behave in a nice way. People change computers sometimes and it is very
nice to create new profile and drop in the content of the old profile. Or backup
the profile just by backing up the folder. I can not see what is the problem -
in this specific and obviously sensitive case, why can't there be a wizard that
tells in plain terms what will be done? Instead of telling people what they
should or should not do.

I am not going to start a war of OPEN THIS BUG AND CLOSE IT AGAIN. But for me
this is a bug.

Good that there are other browsers.

Just wanted to help.

Good luck.
(Reporter)

Comment 9

14 years ago
Just to add some conceptual content.

Mozilla has tabs - which enhances the task bar of Windows - which often gets
overloaded with buttons. And Mozilla was very proud with its tabs.

Windows has user profiles - good profile manager of Firefox would enhance the
user profiles of Windows allowing multiple Firefox identities within a single
user profie. And Firefox can be very proud with its profile manager.

Why not.

This is just a conceptual thinking. I am not saying it is useful. Just wanted to
give a demonstration what is for me a nice discussion - instead of banging on
the table and insisting that some limited group of users (there are more home
users in the world than system administrators) wants is the right way. There is
no right way. There is overabundant variety and tools must serve the richness of
possibilities if they want to be nice.

And may be one correction. May be the simple home users will never find the
profiles. But users get less simple and more sophisticated with every day. I
just came back from dinner with friends where their one year old boy play with
old computer keyboard. The generations of now are not like the generations of
the 70s. There are more kids than ever that have touched computer before they
can speak and walk and there will be more. So I think the term "simple home
user" will need to survive deep rethinking starting from now, if not from yesterday.

Comment 10

14 years ago
*** Bug 294779 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***

Updated

13 years ago
Blocks: 302087
(Reporter)

Comment 11

13 years ago
As people continue to suffer (see bug 302087) I think it's highly inadequate 
for this bug to be with INVALID status. Or are there other opinions?
Status: RESOLVED → UNCONFIRMED
Resolution: INVALID → ---
(Assignee)

Comment 12

13 years ago
Do not reopen this bug. Public opinion doesn't really matter, it's a design
decision that has been made. If you want to provide a patch to make the warning
scarier, please use bug 302087.
Status: UNCONFIRMED → RESOLVED
Last Resolved: 14 years ago13 years ago
Resolution: --- → INVALID
Whiteboard: DO NOT REOPEN THIS BUG!
(Reporter)

Comment 13

13 years ago
"Public opinion doesn't really matter, it's a design decision that has been 
made."

WOW

Hey, you areally impressed me! I thought that's a community project. Seems I 
am mistaken.

If all other Mozilla developers share your opinion, I am honestly disgusted by 
the arrogance...

I do hope you had a bad day and that's the reason you wrote this.

It seems I better save my time trying to help the Mozilla project and use it 
somewhere where my effort is more welcome.

All best and have fun.

Comment 14

13 years ago
saying "normal users don't use the profile manager" is simply not true!
E.g. when Firefox crashes it is very common that the profile manager appears and
tells the user he has to create a new profile although the user only wanted to
start Firefox.
Also it is a very common tip in the support forums to create a new profile for
various reasons.

At the end of this post there are two possible, simple solutions.

But first, let me show you why this is really harmful:
Normal user Harry Harmless in "5 harmless steps to Disaster":

step1:
Harry's Firefox crashed. As he wanted to restart it, the profilemanager appeared
and asked him to create a new profile. So he did.
step2:
The profilemanager proposed a directory which sounded verry strange for Harry.
Some weird long path with application data and random letters. Harry thought:
"I'll never find this again!", so he decided to choose the folder where his
profile data should be saved. As he opened the dialog, the default folder
selected was MY DOCUMENTS (check this, it really is that way!!!!). So Harry
thought: "Oh, why not, this seems to be the designated folder for this because
it is selected by default and i'll find these strange profilefiles again". So he
did (and is somehow on a point of no return now...)
step3:
When Harry opened his Firefox, all his bookmarks disappeared and bla bla, you
all know this storry. Harry found out this was cause by creating the new profile
and that he simply has to use his old profile.
step4:
So Harry saw the profilemanager again, this time intentional. He thought: "OK,
there is no use for this strange new profile, let's delete it." and so he did,
using the Prfilemanager (the end is near....)
step5:
Now Harry was asked whether he wants to keep or delete the profiledata. Harry
thought: "Why should I keep them, there is really no use of them." Being not
sensitive enough or perhaps only being used to uninstalling routines only
deleting files belonging to their application which never lead to troubles
before, he hit the 'delete files' button.
Goodbye, MY DOCUMENTS!

Things like this really happenend! I read about two users losing all their 'my
documents' files ( http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?p=1624166#1624166
and http://www.firefox-browser.de/forum/viewtopic.php?p=131506#131506 )and one
using his whole desktop files (which he also claimed to be important, strnge
what some people place on their
desktop..http://www.firefox-browser.de/forum/viewtopic.php?p=149939#149939 ) 

So this is really a serious problem with really to harmful consequences on the
user side, when the user makes only some wrong decisions, which may sound
harmless to him.

I prpopse one of the following solutions:
1. There should be a warning when a non-empty folder or even a system folder (my
documents, dektop, windows or maybe even the root directory) is selected as path
to new profilefolder or 
2. When pressing 'choose folder'in the profile manager, 'my documents' should
NOT be selected in the treeview by default, it should be the folder proposed in
application data. And speaking about design: This WOULD be the standard design
for such things! When installing Firefox and you want to choose the path to
program folder, the proposed folder %programfiles%\Mozilla Firefox IS selected
in the treeview by default.

invalid is the wrong status, no doubt.
(Reporter)

Comment 15

13 years ago
Tobias,

I think we are wasting our time. Mozilla is going private and they do not care 
about the 'general public' anymore.

Seems they have found rich and big corporations who buy the product and the 
general public will need another browser.

A bit ironic but feels true.

Comment 16

13 years ago
I reconsidered about my Comment
https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=270705#c14 :
The things I proposed there are NO real solution for this bug, they just make it
less probable that something worse happens. But actually, this is more a new
bug, as Benjamin also said in
https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=270705#c12 about bug 302087. So
I'll open a new bug about the default selection "my documents" in the treeview
when 'choose folder' is selected.

Updated

13 years ago
Blocks: 304290

Comment 17

13 years ago
reported bug 304290 : treeview points to 'My Documents'

I really searched bugzilla for another appearance of this bug, haven't found it,
i hope it's no duplicate...

Updated

13 years ago
Blocks: 305551

Comment 18

13 years ago
What if it was fixable without changing the no subfolder behaviour? Surely
deleting all files in the profile folder regardless of whether or not they are a
part of the profile is not desired behaviour?

A better solution might be for Firefox to maintain a list of all files and
folders in the profile folder, and to only delete those. It must access all
files in the profile folder that are a part of the profile (whether user, FF, or
extension created) at startup anyway, so I would have thought that it it
shouldn't be too hard to generate a list.

Comment 19

13 years ago
*** This bug has been confirmed by popular vote. ***
Ever confirmed: true

Updated

13 years ago
No longer blocks: 305551

Updated

13 years ago
No longer blocks: 302087
*** Bug 340100 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
*** Bug 346475 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***

Comment 22

12 years ago
(In reply to comment #6)
> The profile manager is not designed for "simple home users", who should
> normally
> never see it. Still INVALID (or WONTFIX).
> 

As bug #340100 indicates, this flaw or lack of clarity in at least the Firefox dialogs for creating and deleting profiles exposes various unsuspecting users to unacceptable data loss. 

Creating a profile named "Joe" means creating a folder named "Joe" in the requested location with a path down to the actual data for that profile. There may be a folder named Profiles above it containing not only "Joe" but maybe "default" and other profile folders. 

Deleting the profile "Joe" with the option selected to delete the Joe data should ask the user, "Do you want to delete all the data and folders in the <name-of> folder that holds all the Joe data?"

This can be vital to know. You wouldn't want it to happen to you. There are plenty of prompts on relatively trivial matters in Mozilla software. There ought to be an adequate warning about an action that could, for example, wipe out the text and notes of an author's book, someone's health records, or other irreplaceable data.

Comment 23

12 years ago
My friend's just fallen victim to this with Thunderbird's profile manager, and he's so infuriated he's talking about boycotting Mozilla and switching to Opera almost completely... I just can't believe that there isn't a more prominent warning in place, in addition to the root MyDocs folder being removed from the custom profile location completely, to protect the average home user -- who's using Firefox because of its popularity and supposedly safety-concscious approach.

I also agree with the person who suggested that there should be some basic auditing against a list of relevant files that are needed only for the profiles themselves -- it's not rocket science! I'd do it myself but I'm baffled by all of the FF UI "Standards" and I don't quite know C++ or XUL. But I'm deploring someone to commit to fixing this -- the sysadmins will still be happy if a non-default option is provided, but most people would be fine if it was hidden or placed in an "Advanced" section of the profile manager! The arrogance doesn't help -- of course average users can use the tool; after all, they are told to by so many FAQs, and it's essential anyway, for dealing with crashes etc. Not to mention a case I read about some poor experienced user who mistyped a command line argument on an unfamiliar keyboard layout, and ended up declaring his entire C drive root as the profile directory! He lost a lot of data it seems, and was also quite shaken up...

Sorry for the rant. It's 2007 though, and something needs to be done!

Comment 24

12 years ago
(I should've sent that reply as a Thunderbird bug, but after reading a few dozen accounts of the same thing, it seems that it's quite relevant to Firefox after all... This sucks.)
Duplicate of this bug: 374969

Comment 26

12 years ago
Fancy features and even working the last little security bug out of the code aren't worth as much as getting major usability issues like this fixed. At the least, the help files, FAQ sheets and release notes should warn about this, and the dialogs should issue warnings on potentially large data loss risks as well as the many trivial ones.

This rendered view
 The profile manager is not designed for "simple home users", who should
> normally
> never see it. Still INVALID (or WONTFIX).
> 
needs to be scrapped in favor of FIX and/or WARN USERS.

Updated

11 years ago
Duplicate of this bug: 434073

Updated

11 years ago
Keywords: dataloss
Product: Firefox → Toolkit

Comment 28

7 years ago
The indiscriminate deletion of folders without actually checking its contents is INAPPROPRIATE.

Updated

5 years ago
Duplicate of this bug: 991127
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