Backing up your data is important, and although you should definitely be using one of the best online backup services to ensure your data is safe, you don’t need one to protect your browsing profile in Chrome. This guide will show you how to backup Google Chrome and make sure nothing in the browser is lost, should your computer meet an unfortunate end.
Chrome is one of the most secure web browsers around, but that doesn’t mean your information is inherently safe if your device dies. If this happens, there’s probably a bunch of data saved in the browser that you’ll want to retrieve. This includes apps, bookmarks, favorites, extensions, browsing history, settings, themes, open tabs, autofill form content and payment methods.
If you lose access to this data, you’ll have to redownload all your extensions, re-enter your information — such as passwords and addresses — and set up your preferences again the way you like them. Since your browsing history will be gone, you can also forget about hunting down that one article you vaguely remember reading a few weeks back.
If you’re just installing Chrome for the first time, be sure to check out our Google Chrome review to discover everything the browser is capable of. For now, let’s see how to make sure your browsing data is safe and secure.
How to Backup Google Chrome in Browser
The easiest way to backup Google Chrome is to do it through the browser. To do so, you must create a Google account or sign in with your existing one (find out how to change your default Google account). Start by clicking on the three dots in the browser’s top-right corner and then on the “settings” option near the bottom of this menu.
From here, you should see a large, blue button labelled “turn on sync…”. Once you click it, you’ll be taken to the Google login page.
Here you can either log in with an existing Google account or create a new one by clicking “create account.”
To create a new account, you’ll need to enter your name, date of birth and desired Gmail address, as well as a password (you can make Gmail your default email client if you want to). Once your account is created, repeat the steps above to arrive at the login screen again.
Either way, once you’re done linking your account with the browser, you can return to the settings menu and click “turn on sync” again, which will prompt you to confirm.
From here, click “manage sync” to see what information is being transferred. You can either choose to sync everything, or pick and choose from the list shown in the screenshot below. Once you’ve decided what to sync, it will all be made automatically available across devices, so long as you sign in with the same Google account.
How to Backup Chrome Bookmarks, History & More
To summarize, you can backup Google Chrome using your Google account by following these steps.
- Enter the settings menu
- Create or log in to a Google Account
- Return to the settings menu and click “turn on sync”
- Click “manage sync” and choose what you want to save to your account
How to Backup Google Chrome Manually
If you don’t want Google to have all your information on its servers — meaning you are not using a Google account — you can still backup the browser manually.
These instructions will let you protect everything stored in Chrome, but if you only want to backup Chrome bookmarks, check out our instructions for how to export and import Chrome bookmarks.
First, you’ll have to track down your Chrome profile folder stored locally on your device. The exact location can vary depending on your operating system, but by default the folders are located in the following places:
- On computers running Windows 7 and above: C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default
- On computers running Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default
- On macOS X devices: Users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default
- On Linux machines: Linux: /home/<username>/.config/google-chrome/default
Remember that you’ll need to replace the “<username>” parts of the paths with your own username.
Bear in mind that, in the case of Windows, your AppData or Application Data folders are hidden by default. If you can’t find these folders, open the “control panel,” select “appearance and personalization” and then “file Explorer options.”
Switch to the “view” tab and scroll down until you see the “hidden files and folders entry.” Simply tick the “show hidden files, folders and drives” box, and you’re good to go.
This approach will work on every version of Windows, from XP and up, but if you’re running Windows 10, you can accomplish the same result much quicker. Simply open any folder, open the “view” tab in the top menu, and tick the box called “hidden items” inside the section called “show/hide.”
If you only have one user profile, it will be located in the folder called “default.” Simply copy this folder to your back-up location — whether that’s on an external device or in the cloud — and you’ll have everything you need to restore Chrome to normal in the future.
If you have more than one profile, it’s a little more confusing. Every profile after your first one is placed in a folder named “ProfileX” where “X” is a number that increases for each profile you create. Thus, your second profile folder (remember, your first is called “default”) will be named “Profile1,” your third will be “Profile2” and so on.
Bear in mind that if you’re backing up one of these profiles and not the default one, you will still need the latter to back up your extensions. This is because extensions are shared between profiles and are only stored in the default folder.
That’s why we recommend backing up both the default profile and any additional profiles you may have at the same time.
Because the user profiles can store quite a lot of data, the copy might take a long time to finish. Remember to close Chrome completely beforehand, or the process will abort due to the files being in use.
How to Restore Google Chrome
When the time comes to restore your user profile in Google Chrome, the way to do this depends on how you backed up your data. If you used your Google account, the process is as simple as logging in with your new browser installation, and Chrome will automatically download all the data you backed up.
In the future, should you want to make Google forget what it knows about you, you can follow our guide on how to erase your Google history. Google claims this will delete all the information it has stored on you, but given the company’s less-than-stellar record on privacy, it’s hard to trust them on this.
If you manually backed up your profile, you need to navigate to the same folder as described above in the manual backup section. Once there, rename the “Default” folder to something else, such as “DefaultOLD,” and then paste your backed-up folder in the same location. The next time you start Chrome, you will be automatically signed into your recovered profile.
Although Chrome certainly isn’t a perfect browser — especially given its severe privacy concerns — its ability to quickly sync your information between devices is a huge upside to the world’s most popular web browser.
Even if you don’t want to use a Google Account in order to limit what Google knows about you, backing up Chrome is still incredibly easy, requiring just a few simple steps to accomplish. All this does nothing to protect you against Chrome’s biggest flaw — privacy — so make sure to download the best VPN for Chrome and read our anonymous browsing guide while you’re here. If you have a Chromebook, be sure to read our best VPN for Chromebooks guide, too.
What do you think of Chrome’s backup process? Do you agree that it’s quick and simple, or would you prefer a more straightforward way of backing up without using a Google account? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.