Mozilla improves the reliability of Firefox's Sync service
Firefox users may use built-in sync functionality to synchronize data between instances of Firefox. These instances can be on the same computer, e.g. different profiles, or on different local or remote machines.
Syncing is useful to make sure that certain data, say bookmarks and passwords, are always identical between devices that you use.
One of the main issues with Firefox's sync service was that it was not designed to be a backup service. While it did support syncing data to the cloud to push the data to other devices, it happened at times that the service would lose some of the data.
Mozilla started to work on a new Rust-based sync service for Firefox and has revealed it now in a new blog post on the official Services blog.
One of the core differences between the old and new Sync backend is that the new one behaves like a backup service now; this means that it won't lose databases or data anymore as it relies on a distributed database to store the data secure.
A lot of folks expected it to be a Backup service. The good news is, now it is a backup service. Sync is more reliable now. We use a distributed database to store your data securely, so we no longer lose databases (or your data echos).
Mozilla's Support site lists quite a few cases of lost data, e.g. of users who formatted their PC, reinstalled Firefox, enabled Sync, only to find out that Sync was not finding any data.
A typical answer that users received for the issue they experienced is published below:
Firefox Sync is NOT A BACKUP SERVICE. It was not designed to be one, nor does it function like one. There's not necessarily a permanent or complete copy of your data on the Firefox Sync server.
Additionally, some account actions (like changing password) cause the Firefox Sync data to be erased.
The data is stored using Google Cloud's Spanner database, and the new backend is compatible with old and new versions of Firefox that support sync, and self-hosting as well. Users who self-host the Sync server need some patience though as Mozilla is still working on getting rid of bugs and other issues. Adventurous users can help Mozilla by providing feedback after setting up a self-hosted solution.
Additional information is available on the Syncstorage RS repo on GitHub.
The quintessence is that Firefox's Sync service will be more reliable in the future, and that the days of sync data not being available anymore are finally over once the migration completes.
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