How To Synchronize Google Chrome Data Without Chrome Sync

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 11, 2012
Google Chrome

Synchronizing browser data between multiple devices can be a blessing. Imagine having all of your bookmarks and passwords at your disposal, no matter where you go, or what computer you use to connect to the Internet. In reality, syncing is limited in several ways. It first is limited to a specific web browser. You cannot just sync your Firefox data with Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer's with Opera. While there are third party tools out there that can sync some data, like bookmarks, you won't find a tool that can synchronize everything.

The second limitation is that you need an account if you use the built-in synchronization features. For Google Chrome, a Google account is required that you need to be signed in for the syncing to work.

Syncing data without Chrome Sync

If you do not want to sign in to your Google account in Chrome, or do not have an account at all, you may be interested in alternatives that help you synchronize data between multiple systems.

To do that, you need two tools:

  • A tool to create symbolic links
  • Storage space in the cloud that you can access locally (like Dropbox)

The process

Google saves the Chrome user folder into the C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data in Windows 7 and Windows Vista. Windows XP users find it in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\ instead.

All you need to do know is to place that folder in your cloud storage, and point the original data folder to it, to have it synchronized automatically whenever you switch computers. Keep in mind though that will run into issues if you have Chrome open simultaneously on multiple systems. If that is a requirement, you are better off using the built-in synchronization. The process obviously only works for systems that can access the cloud storage.

As far as tools go, you can use Steammover or Dropboxifier for that. Steammover, originally designed for users of the gaming platform Steam who want to move some of their installed games to a new drive, can be used to create symbolic links for all kinds of folders.

You also need a Dropbox account, or a comparable cloud hosting account that you can access as a drive or folder on your system.

Here is how this is done.

Attention: Close all open instances of the Google Chrome browser on your system before you proceed.

Start Steam Mover and select your Google Chrome user directory as the Steam Apps Common Folder, and a new folder in your Dropbox directory as the Alternative Folder.

You should see a folder list being populated once you have selected the Chrome user folder. Now mark all folders with the left mouse button while holding down the Shift key, or press Ctrl-A to do it, and click on the right arrow icon at the bottom of the window afterwards.

chrome data sync

Now that you have set it up on one PC, you need to repeat the steps on the remaining devices. Install Dropbox first there to synchronize the Chrome files with the local PC or device.  I'd suggest you empty the directories of your Chrome user directory on those devices before you use Steam Mover to avoid syncing conflicts.

Closing Words

You can use the very same steps to synchronize your Firefox user profile across devices without using Firefox Sync or your Thunderbird emails.

Are you synchronizing data between devices? If so, how are you doing it?


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  1. Crom said on January 29, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    The idea is to NOT sign into Chrome. Once you do, you better believe that google is harvesting all that data and tying it to that google account you created. If you are confortable with google watching all your browsing habits, keeping a copy of your history in the cloud forever, keeping all your password to all your sites in their cloud forever, then go ahead and be my guest.

  2. MS said on July 23, 2012 at 1:34 am

    What do you mean by “[email protected]?”

    I’m worried about “will run into issues if you have Chrome open simultaneously on multiple systems. If that is a requirement, you are better off using the built-in synchronization.” I would like to sync my desktop, my brawny laptop and my wimpy netbook. I like Opera best but it uses too much memory on the netbook and really drags it down. I suppose it would work okay if I didn’t have very many tabs open. But whenever I get interrupted, the tabs sit there. Later I flit to another question to research, and open new tabs. Once a week or so I clean them all up, but in the meantime, lots of tabs accumulate. I don’t like to close them because then I might forget to come back to that topic. And I don’t want to have to start the search all over again and re-evaluate which hits looked promising.

    So it looks like I’ll have to switch to firefox for all machines and try to sync them with the procedure you outlined. But I like to leave my account running but asleep on each machine all the time, so I’m not sure your procedure will work.

  3. ilev said on April 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Chrome 19 beta syncs tabs

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