Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How To Fix Firefox “Initialize” Error

A reader asks how to cure a “could not initialize” error in Mozilla’s Firefox.

Q: Hey guys,

Recently I let Firefox update itself and now it has errors. It says it cannot open the security component and that I should check to make sure my disk is not full. My computer is new and has almost nothing on it yet, so I don’t see how this could be. Is there a way I can go back to my old Firefox. I do not want to use Internet Explorer as my son has told me it isn’t safe. Thanks!

A: Dear Reader,

Sorry to say there is no “guys”, there is only me. Without looking at your machine, mind you, I suspect two things: one, that the errors reads..

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

and, two, that a file necessary for Firefox to function correctly has become “corrupted”, and needs to be repaired/replaced.

1) Open Firefox  (use Firefox’s “Safe mode” if you have to) and from the menu bar, click on “Help” and then on “Troubleshooting Information


2) Click on the “Open Containing Folder” button, and then scroll down until you can see the file cert8.


3) Right-click on the cert8 file, and click on “Properties”. Make sure the checkbox for “Read only” is not checked. If it is, uncheck it and click “OK”.

This should solve the problem, but if it doesn’t, or the checkbox was already unchecked, delete the cert8 file, and restart Firefox. When Firefox starts up again, it will automatically create a new, ‘correct’ cert8 file for you.

Firefox should now be working good as new, and.. that was not too tricky, was it?

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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February 4, 2011 - Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, Firefox, how to, Internet, PC, performance, software, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , ,


  1. TechPaul,

    Something tells me you had an experience with this at one time or another. These types of problems are often difficult to troubleshoot. Nice writeup on this for future reference for us all.



    Comment by Ramblinrick | February 4, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you Rick.

      The first time I heard this described, my initial thought was “toolbar” (as toolbars can get corrupted {or.. too many installed} and cause such glitches as well, and are fersher Prime Suspects). But I found the answer in the Mozilla forums.


      Comment by techpaul | February 4, 2011 | Reply

  2. Nice one Paul

    you have certainly saved what has become a Sunday from hell with an assignment due googling my name in Firefox just before it crashed. I nearly ditched FF for IE but remebered why it was I switched origionally.




    Comment by Anonymous | October 9, 2011 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      Thank you for taking the time to let me know you found my writings helpful.


      Comment by techpaul | October 9, 2011 | Reply

  3. That’s solved my problem, TechPaul. I’m running Firefox on a Mac – it went belly up when it automatically updated to Firefox 10 – and the instructions for Mac are almost the same except that you have to click a button labelled ‘Open in Finder’ instead of ‘Open Containing Folder’. It wouldn’t even load the home page, and would not respond to clicking on bookmarks or entering a URL or search term, though it did (once, first time) load the ‘Welcome to Firefox’ screen.

    I had already made sure that all the files in the Profile directory were read/write so I trashed the cert8.db file and restarted, to find that Firefox was up and running again.

    Many thanks.



    Comment by Ian | February 3, 2012 | Reply

    • Ian,
      Thank you for taking the time to share that with us; and letting me know you found my efforts here helpful.

      (At first.. the fact that 99.9% of visitors/question askers here do not even bother to say thanks kind of shocked me..)


      Comment by techpaul | February 3, 2012 | Reply

  4. Thank you Tech Paul


    Comment by Abiny | February 8, 2012 | Reply

    • Abiny,
      Glad I could help out.


      Comment by techpaul | February 8, 2012 | Reply

  5. Oh!!!!!!!! you cant imagine how much u helped me.I was near to crying.I have an exam and couldnt log in coz of this problem.Thanks a lot.May god bless u


    Comment by Anonymous | February 10, 2012 | Reply

    • You’re very kind. Glad I could help relieve your s-t-r-e-s-s-ful situation!


      Comment by techpaul | February 10, 2012 | Reply

  6. thanx buddy


    Comment by abhinav | February 27, 2012 | Reply

    • abhinav,
      Glad I helped out.


      Comment by techpaul | February 27, 2012 | Reply

  7. Thanks man, you safe my life.


    Comment by ordnael | August 23, 2012 | Reply

    • ordnael,
      Thank you for taking the time to let me know I helped out.


      Comment by techpaul | August 23, 2012 | Reply

  8. thank u very very much because its solved


    Comment by samasona | March 19, 2013 | Reply

    • samasona,
      Thank you for taking the time to let me know I helped.


      Comment by techpaul | March 19, 2013 | Reply

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