Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition Support
Many of the most common issues that arise when using Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition are addressed here. Please read through the various topics to see if any of them address your question. You can also post a question in the Firefox Portable Support Forum.
Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition-Specific Issues
Also, be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions in the forum.
General Mozilla Firefox Issues
To install Firefox Portable, just download the portable package at the top of the Firefox Portable page and then double-click it. Select the location you wish to install to and click OK. A FirefoxPortable directory will be created there and all the necessary files installed. That's all there is to it.
To start up Firefox Portable, just double-click FirefoxPortable.exe file where you installed Portable Firefox on your portable drive. Then, use it just like you would a local copy of Firefox. There are a couple of things to keep in mind:
To upgrade to a newer version of Firefox Portable, just install a new copy of Firefox Portable right over your old one. All your data will be preserved. You can use the built in updater as well, but some non-personal files or directories may be left behind. This will be addressed in an upcoming release.
If you're upgrading from Portable Firefox (older name and directories), make a copy of your existing profile folder within the PortableFirefox\Data\profile directory on your portable drive. Then download the new version of Firefox Portable and copy your profile from the old version into the new version within FirefoxPortable\Data\profile. If you added any plugins or searchplugins, you should copy those directories as well (PortableFirefox\plugins to FirefoxPortable\Data\plugins and PortableFirefox\firefox\searchplugins to FirefoxPortable\App\firefox\searchplugins).
If you're using a local copy of Firefox, you may wish to just copy your local Firefox settings right into Firefox Portable. Your local Firefox profile is usually installed in C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\default.???\ After running Firefox Portable once to let it setup its data directories, just copy the contents of that folder (except the cache directories) to the FirefoxPortable\Data\profile directory. Then, and this is important, delete the file FirefoxPortableSettings.ini within the FirefoxPortable\Data\settings directory, if there is one. When you start Firefox Portable for the first time, it's recommended that you turn off disk cache, password saving and history if you're using a flash-based portable device. You can set all of these within the Privacy tab of the Firefox Options window. Sometimes, certain profiles will cause the launcher to fail or hang. It's best to give it a few minutes to see if it's just checking compatibility and adjusting the locations of the extensions before giving up on it. If it fails, it is usually due to an incompatible extension.
A second profile can allows you to setup another set of settings (bookmarks, extensions, preferences, etc) for Firefox Portable that you can use independent of your main settings. This is useful for sharing a flash drive with someone, testing extensions and configuration options or separating our work from personal details.
To use a second profile, install the Firefox Portable 2nd Profile 1.2 app in the same PortableApps directory that FirefoxPortable is in (so, if Firefox Portable is installed to X:\PortableApps\FirefoxPortable, you'd install this to X:\PortableApps\FirefoxPortable2ndProfile). In the PortableApps.com Menu, it will show up as "Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition 2nd Profile". You can easily rename it to something more useful by right-clicking and selecting rename. When you run it, it will start Firefox Portable up with your second profile without affecting your main profile. You can even install a 3rd or 4th profile by installing the 2nd Profile app again to another location (like X:\PortableApps\FirefoxPortable3rdProfile) and then renaming it in the PortableApps.com Menu.
With Firefox Portable, plugins work a bit differently than they do in regular Firefox. Here's how to do some of the most common plugins:
If the above fails, try the alternate (and more geeky) method:
Notes: It should be noted that Adobe Flash does *not* officially support running in any portable configuration. And, as it is a closed source application, we can neither modify it nor package it into a more portable-friendly installer. It should also be noted that it is illegal to redistribute either flash or shockwave without the full installer.
Firefox Portable supports the ability to set other portable apps as helper apps to handle additional document types even as you move between PCs. So, you can set Sumatra PDF Portable as your PDF viewer, OpenOffice.org Portable as your DOC opener and VLC Media Player Portable as your AVI handler and it will all work as you move to other PCs.
The setting to do this in Firefox Portable works just like it does in a regular install of Firefox:
Now, when you click on a file of that type in Firefox, it will open it in the portable app you selected. The PortabableApps.com Launcher takes care of any needed changes as you move between PCs.
Note: If you don't see the file type you'd like in the list of file types, that means Firefox doesn't know about it yet. Just search for a file of that type in Firefox and click on it. It'll either ask you what you'd like to open it with (in which case, just select the portable app you'd like to use) or it will automatically associate it with an application or plugin installed on the local PC. At that point, you can then follow the instructions above to tell Firefox to use a portable app to open that type of file.
Mailto Note: Mailto links are not controlled by Firefox's mimetypes setup, so this has no effect on being able to click on an email link and launching Thunderbird. Firefox simply passes mailto links to Windows and has it open the default mail client.
Privacy Note: When Firefox hands off a file to another application, it will usually store that file in the local PC's TEMP directory. This file may be left behind if you close Firefox Portable before closing the application launched to view the file and that application locks the file (for example, Microsoft Word locks .doc files while it has them open). Just close the helper app before closing Firefox Portable to ensure any opened files are deleted. (This issue will affect any portable software that passes a document to another via the TEMP directory, not just Firefox Portable and not just applications on the PortableApps.com Platform.)
Firefox Portable runs quite well from faster flash drives (and portable hard drives or iPods) when connected to a USB 2.0 port. But what if your flash drive is a bit below average speed-wise (and just because it says "USB 2.0" on it, doesn't mean it's fast)? Or what if you're stuck connecting to USB 1.1 ports at work or school? Well, there are a few ways to improve performance.
First off, it helps to realize why things are slow. Firefox Portable has to read and write bits of data to and from your portable device while it's running. On most flash drives, every time something is written, all reads stop. When this happens, Firefox Portable can appear to "freeze" or "hesitate" momentarily. Add to this the fact that most flash drives aren't as fast as they promise. They all say "USB 2.0 high speed" on them, but they're actually limited by the speed of the memory chips inside them and the controller chip that handles communication between those chips and a PC. There's about a 40x speed difference between a slow drive and a fast drive when dealing with writing small amounts of data. And, even if a drive can write a 5mb MP3 file quickly, it may be slow with writing lots of tiny files.
Here's a list of different things you can do to speed things up:
As you move between different computers, you may encounter systems on networks that use proxies and don't allow direct access to the internet. You'll need to update Firefox Portable' connection settings to use in the new environment. You can find these settings within Tools - Options - General - Connection Settings. If you routinely use PCs with different proxy settings (for example, work and home or work and school), you can set up the options for both and easily switch between them with the SwitchProxy extension. If you need to determine the connection settings of the PC you are on to add to Firefox Portable, just run our Proxy Get Utility and it will let you know what they are.
This option is no longer actively tested or supported
Firefox Portable supports running from a CD right out of the box, and it's a snap. Start off by downloading and installing Firefox Portable to your hard drive... it doesn't matter where. Run it at least once to generate the default settings. Then, customize it as needed, being sure not to move FirefoxPortable.exe or any of the other critical files. Next, download FirefoxPortable.ini and save it to the same directory as FirefoxPortable.exe. Then, burn the whole FirefoxPortable directory to a CD and you're ready to go. Note that Firefox doesn't actually support running directly from read-only media, so the portable app and the profile are copied to the local PC's temp directory and run from there.
If you use Firefox Portable from a USB flash drive with a write-protect switch, you're covered, too. The Firefox Portable Launcher will automatically detect when you protect the drive and offer to run your files locally for you.
Additional information about the options in the INI is provided in the readme.txt file within the FirefoxPortable\Other\FirefoxPortableSource directory. Please note that you must follow Mozilla's Trademark Distribution Guidelines if you are distributing your customized version to anyone else.
We'd like to clarify ESR releases with this example of when 24 stable and ESR are released by Mozilla alongside 17 ESR. 24 ESR and 24 Stable are the exact same release. So, if you want 24 ESR, just use 24 Stable. In fact, if you switched to 24 ESR as soon as it came out, you should not be using ESR at all since you're not getting any of the benefits. The point of ESR is to take your time adopting a new version to ensure web apps and extensions that are business critical to you work with the new version before upgrading. So, you'd stay on 17.0 for production but install 24.0 in test to begin testing all the important stuff.
If you're using ESR because you think it means you have to upgrade less often, you're using it wrong. Every time a new stable full version of Firefox comes out, a new point release of ESR comes out to fix the same bugs but not get the new features, so you upgrade just as often.
All of the above is why Mozilla points out that ESR is not for end users and makes the download purposely harder to locate.
The only point of our ESR build is to allow extension developers and web developers to continue to test on it for the handful of corporations and organizations that use ESR. Right now, they need to test on Firefox 24 (which they do on Firefox Portable) and Firefox 17 (which they do on Firefox Portable ESR). If there is a 24.0.1 release, stable will be updated to that and ESR will be updated to 17.0.10. When Firefox Portable 25.0 is released, Firefox Portable ESR will be moved to 24.0 and 17.0 will be dropped.
The following are known issues with this package:
I made some modifications to the default version of Firefox to make it more USB key friendly (decreasing the number of writes to the drive, which will increase drive life). These changes are listed here so you'll know what they are, and so you can recreate the process, if so desired. Obviously, you can change many of these settings (ex cache) by changing the options in Firefox, but you will increase the number of writes to your flash drive, thus decreasing its life.