Synchronizing Your Web Browser Experience

Lawyers often work in more than one place, the office and the home being the most common.  Even if you are a mobile legal researcher, you may work on multiple computers, each with a copy of your favorite Web browser installed.  Ideally, you would be able to keep the information current and the same on each system.  While you can often synchronize bookmarks – Google Chrome has bookmark sync built in and you can use Xmarks on the other browsers – you may find yourself out of sync with your other browser preferences.

Mozilla Firefox users can take advantage of the experimental Weave add-on.  It is a project out of Mozilla Labs and is a secure sync tool that will upload your Web browser settings – what is in the Awesome bar, your open tabs, your bookmarks, and other preferences, including passwords – to a Mozilla server.  You will notice once you have installed the add-on that not only do you need to create a username and password for your Weave account, but you are required to have a passphrase to enable the encryption of your content and, without which, your uploaded information is inaccessible.

Google Chrome users can use the Sync feature (still in beta) within the Web browser that will synchronize your bookmarks, preferences, and browser themes.  This is not the Firefox browser sync add-on that Google has discontinued; they recommend Weave as a substitute!  Like the Weave add-on, it does not synchronize your other add-ons or extensions.  Unlike Weave, your information (excluding passwords) is uploaded to your Google account and is not encrypted.

Some Firefox users have gone beyond the synchronization possible through Weave and are using online storage sites, liked Dropbox.com, to store their Firefox profiles, including add-ons.  Since you can have multiple computers connected to your free Dropbox account, it means you can configure each computer to use your Dropbox folder on your computer for your Firefox profile.  Lifehacker has an older post that talks about using Portable Firefox, and keeping your entire Firefox application in sync.  Here is a more detailed method of using Dropbox to store just the profile information.

While you can avoid all of this by researching from a single computer, that isn’t always possible.  Using synchronization tools to keep your research environment as similar as possible across different computers can save you time.

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