What to do when your Chrome bookmarks suddenly disappear

Bring your bookmarks back from the dead

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This morning I opened up Chrome as usual and was horrified to find my bookmarks bar nearly empty. All my carefully organized and saved sites gone. After searching a bit online, I found this isn't an uncommon issue.

There are two possible plausible explanations for my saved bookmarks' vanishing act. One is that I signed into a different, less-used computer over the weekend--one that hadn't been synced yet with my regular computer's Chrome settings and bookmarks--so that newer instance of Chrome "reset," in a sense, my bookmarks back to zero. The other is that Google was punishing me for trying out its upcoming, updated bookmarking tool, Google Stars (or a change to Stars corrupted my bookmarks file). Either way, losing all my bookmarks felt as bad as losing my glasses and not being able to see. 

Here's the solution I found:

  1. Search for "bookmarks.bak" in Windows Explorer
  2. Right-click the file and choose "Open file location" to open the folder, which should be your Chrome user data folder (i.e., Users/[Username]/AppData/Local/Google/Chrome/User Data/Default)
  3. Open the bookmarks backup file in Notepad. Your old bookmarks, hopefully, are listed there
  4. In Chrome, go to Settings > Advanced sync settings (under the Sign in section) and change the sync settings so that Bookmarks aren't synced, if they currently are set to sync
  5. Close Chrome
  6. Back in the Chrome user data folder, find another "Bookmarks" file without an extension. Rename it "Bookmarks2.bak"
  7. Then rename the "Bookmarks.bak" file to "Bookmarks"

That's what ended up restoring my bookmarks for me. For good measure, I also disabled the Google Stars bookmarking tool, but I don't think many other people were able to install it before it was pulled from the Chrome Web Store.

Also, seeing how disturbing it was to lose my bookmarks like this, I've backed up that bookmarks file lest it disappears on my again.

Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.  

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