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How to back up a Chrome extension

Chrome extensions exist in one of two places; in the Chrome web store, or literally anywhere a developer deems fit to distribute them from. Developers mostly user Github when it comes to distributing an extension outside the Chrome web store and they resort to this when an extension is unlikely to be approved. The extensions in the Chrome web store have all been approved by Google however, they may still be removed any time. A developer may decide to pull their extension from the store or Google might change its mind and remove it. In either case, it’s a good idea to back up a Chrome extension that you absolutely cannot work without. Here’s how.

Back up Chrome extension

In order to back up a Chrome extension, it must still be available in the Chrome web store. That is where you will download the file from. In order to download an extension from the Chrome web store and not install it automatically, you need to install the Get CRX extension from the Chrome web store.

Once installed, navigate to the Chrome web store page of the extension you want to back up. Click the Get CRX extension’s button next to the URL bar and select the ‘Get CRX of this extension’ option from the context menu. CRX is the file format for Chrome extension files.

Select where you want to save the file, and it will download in a few seconds. This CRX file can now be installed and you no longer need to visit the Chrome web store page for it.

Install a CRX file

To install the extension that you backed up, navigate to the CRX file and use any archiving utility to extract it. Don’t worry that it is not a ZIP or RAR file. Once it has been extracted, open Chrome and click the more options menu at the top right. Select More Tools>Extensions.

On the Extensions page, enable Developer mode. Next, click the Load Unpacked button and select the folder that the extension was extracted to. The extension will be installed.

It’s worth mentioning that these extensions won’t update automatically. If you want them to update automatically, you will have to install them from the Chrome Web Store. This method should only be used if you’re afraid an extension might be removed from the store and you will lose access to it. Remember that some extensions might be pulled from the store if they pose a security risk and if you continue to use it via the back up you took, you are putting yourself at risk as well.

Finally, using this method to get an extension, repacking and redistributing it is not only unethical but also a crime.

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