Security Component Error

I am taking a quick break from my Blog Vacation to add a couple helpful entries. Earlier this week I received a frantic e-mail from a family member saying they couldn’t their Firefox to start and attached a screenshot of this error message:

“Could not initialize the browser’s security component. The most likely cause is problems with files in your browser’s profile directory. Please check that this directory has no read/write restrictions and your hard disk is not full or close to full. It is recommended that you exit the browser and fix the problem. If you continue to use this browser session, you might see incorrect browser behavior when accessing security features.”

Talk about Déjà vu! When I wrote the Fx Not Accessing Secure Sites entry on December 27th, I had read about this error message. Here are a few tips from the mozillaZine Knowledge Base Article: SSL is disabled:

  • Check your hard drive’s remaining capacity and the file permissions on the files in your profile folder.
  • Delete the cert8.db file in your profile folder and try again.
  • Try creating a new profile. Your current profile might be corrupted due to many reasons, such as changes in your system or lack of HD space at one point.

We quickly determined hard drive space was not an issue, especially since the free space on their hard drive was more than the total capacity of my hard drive (and 30 GB seemed so big back in 2002)! So the next thing we tried was deleting the cert8.db file from the profile folder. Thankfully that fixed the problem so we didn’t have to go to the final option which would have been a fresh profile.

Within a few minutes their Firefox was up and running again. The only other problem they had was their bookmarks had disappeared. This was something we were also able to get fixed in just a couple minutes. See Bookmarks: Backing up and Recovering for details.