Success! FF has updated and is not longer in conflict with ZA Extreme Security. Now that the FF profile is no longer corrupted, the browser is much faster than it previously was and it also remembers my "ask me every time" choices regarding my selected preference (in ‘Options\Privacy’) for whether I allow or deny cookies and, so far, I also haven't experienced the issue where I had to reboot because a firefox.exe process was still running after I had closed FF (the running ‘firefox.exe’ process would prevent me from reopening FF, and the ‘firefox.exe’ process could not be stopped with 'end process' in task manager).
Previous ZA forum excerpts have been helpful, but here are the thorough steps I employed to resolve the ZA/FF conflict issues that arise when FF AUTOMATICALLY UPDATES (more on that later):
1) Backup your FF bookmarks from 'Organise Bookmarks' (which is found in the FF 'Bookmarks' drop-down menu). Save this file to your desktop. After reinstalling FF (which will not happen until much later, towards the end of this process) you will reinstall your bookmarks, again from the 'Organise Bookmarks' dialogue, choosing the 'Import from file’ option and selecting to import the saved Bookmarks file which is on your desktop. If nothing happens after you import this file (i.e. the Bookmarks have not reappeared in your new installation of FF) you may have to rename the file on your desktop if, as happened in my case, the file you originally saved did not appear to have an extension. I had to add the extension ".json" to the filename before I could import the backed-up bookmarks successfully.
2) Backup your plug-ins and extensions. For the plug-ins, open Windows Explorer (Start\All Programs\Accessories\Windows Explorer) and go to 'C\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\Plugins' and copy the Plugins folder to your desktop.
2a) For the extensions, again from Windows Explorer, go to '(Your User Name)\App Data\Roaming\Mozilla\FireFox\Profiles\Extensions' and copy this folder to your desktop.
3) If, like me, you also save your website login passwords using the FF master password feature, then also make sure that you make a copy of the following files from your old profile before you remove the FF program: go to User Name\App Data\Roaming\Mozilla\FireFox\Profiles and click on the default Profile sub-folder, which will look like: '********.default'. Find the following files in that default profile folder and also save them to your desktop:
'Key3' (Data Base File)
'Signons.sqlite' (SQLITE File)
For future reference: once you have finished reinstalling FF, and you have imported your backed-up Bookmarks successfully, you will want to return to all of the above Windows Explorer locations and after 'copying all' (Ctrl + A) the contents of the Plugins and Extensions folders you previously saved to your desktop, you will paste these copied files into the appropriate folders of the new FF installation (again, using same location paths as described above). When asked if you want to replace an existing file with the copied file of the same name, say yes and always click on the file that has the most recent 'Created' date.
Then go to the default profile location of your new FF installation (again, same location path as described above for your default profile) and first rename the saved passwords files to 'Key3OLD' and 'Signons.sqliteOLD' (without the quotation marks). Now copy (from your saved files on your desktop) these two files and paste them into the default profile folder. Once you have verified that they copied successfully, delete the OLD files.
But, we haven't reinstalled FF yet, so those last couple of paragraphs are for your future reference!
4) Now, from Control Panel\Programs\Uninstall Programs: uninstall the FireFox program. DO NOT elect to save your settings, bookmarks, etc. (if I remember correctly, this means that you will not 'tick' the box that saves all of your old Profile's personal information). You don't need to do this because of all of the back-up files you've just made (the files you saved to your desktop) and by not ticking this option, you will ensure that you will be installing a 'clean' profile when you re-install FF.
5) Delete any and all Mozilla Firefox folders you can find in Windows Explorer. These will be found in the same location paths described previously, above. If like me, you also use the Mozilla app Thunderbird or any other Mozilla app, ensure that you are only deleting 'Mozilla Firefox' folders, sub-folders and files. Most of them will have been removed anyway when you uninstalled the FF application, but you will find that there are some folders remaining that ought to be deleted.
6) If, like me, you have a Registry Cleaner application that you trust, and you know how to use it (because such applications can be quite dangerous for those users who do not have a good understanding of their Registry's components) then run your Registry Cleaner at this time to remove obsolete Registry keys and values that are left over from your old FF installation. I use the 'Registry First Aid' platinum version product from Rose City Software, which is a good product, as it allows me to clean and correct the Registry by 'safety levels'. I always elect to repair the first two levels of found errors, which are the 'Safe' and 'Caution' categories, whilst ignoring the errors in the category 'Extreme Caution', as 'fixing' these errors might mean that your computer no longer boots up! Always save a copy of your Registry to your desktop before doing such a 'clean' for the first time (go to: Start\Run\RegEdit\File\Export). If you screw up, you can always boot into 'Safe Mode' and re-install your previous Registry version from your desktop Registry backup.
If, like me, you had FF issues because of ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, and your FF profile was corrupted after the most recent FF upgrade occurred, now it is time to pay attention to the ZA application.
AT THIS POINT we have only completed backing up FF files and then uninstalling the previous FF program. We have not reinstalled any programs yet!
7) OPEN YOUR ZA program ‘Control Centre’ (by right-clicking on the ZA icon in your taskbar tray) and go to ‘Overview\Product Info’ and make sure that you COPY your License number information to a separate WordPad document that you save to your desktop. If you don’t copy this number, you will run into trouble when re-installing your ZA product!
8) From Control Panel, uninstall your ZA application. After doing this, if you have a live internet connection, I recommend that you go to Control Panel\Security\Turn Windows Firewall On or Off and turn it on, as ZA automatically shuts down the Windows firewall when ZA is running, and it's always good to have a firewall running if you're connected to the internet.
9) If during your Uninstall process you do not see a black DOS window appear, running 'cpes_clean' (which is ZA's tool for removing all associated ZA files from your computer) then at this point, do a Google on that file name, locate it, download it and run it. Make sure that you are downloading the file from the ZA website. If you can't find it, then use ZA's 'live chat' feature in their website's support section and the ZA agent will be happy to send it to you.
10) ZA uninstall complete? Now run your Registry Cleaner again (if you're using one). Also, check around in the usual locations in Windows Explorer for any 'CheckPoint' (ZA's parent firm) or ZoneAlarm folders, sub-folders or files that have not been removed during the Uninstall process and delete them.
11) Now it is time to re-install your FF browser. You must do this before you re-install your ZA application! Download the most recent version (3.6.6) from Mozilla and install. Go through the procedures described above for copying or importing your bookmarks, add-ons, extensions, saved passwords, etc.
IMPORTANT: Now go to your FF 'Options\Advanced\Update' tab and make sure you tick "Ask me what I want to do" regarding 'When Firefox updates are found', as this is what caused the whole problem to begin with. Your FF profile became corrupted because you were still running ZA Extreme Security (or some other ZA firewall application) at the time that your FF browser automatically updated to a newer version.
IN THE FUTURE, when FF asks you whether you would like to update to a newer version, always say 'no' and close FF. Then shutdown ZA from your taskbar 'tray' (right-click on your ZA icon and 'Shutdown'). You may want to temporarily turn on your Windows firewall at this point, as ZA always shuts down the Windows firewall when it is running (as it's not a good thing to have two firewall apps running at the same time).
Now restart your FF browser and from 'Help', 'Check for Updates' and install the latest version of FF. After FF restarts, you may check that you have installed the most recent version by going to 'Help', 'About Mozilla Firefox'.
12) Now go to the ZA website and engage the ‘live support chat’ option under Support. Ask the ZA representative to send you the download file for the most recent version of your ZA application (in my case, ZA Extreme Security).
13) Re-install ZA. Copy and paste your previously saved License number in the appropriate field during the installation process. This will ensure that you don’t have to purchase the product again!
We’re done. Congratulations.