Ferry Boender

Programmer, DevOpper, Open Source enthusiast.



Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

My dad had an issue with Firefox failing on certain sites with a “SEC_ERROR_OCSP_FUTURE_RESPONSE” error.

He recently replaced a dead battery in his desktop computer. These batteries are used to keep time when the PC is off. These days generally you won’t ever have to replace it, since computers are throwaway devices now. They’ll fail or become obsolete way before the battery ever dies.

However, if the battery dies, your computer will start to have some date / time problems. These can generally be fixed by setting the date and time manually when starting the computer.

The problem (OCSP)

OCSP is an Internet protocol used for obtaining the revocation status of an X.509 digital certificate. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically when you visit a site, it checks whether the encryption stuff is still valid and secure. According to the intertubes, SEC_ERROR_OCSP_FUTURE_RESPONSE” generally indicates that the computer’s system clock (the one that the battery keeps running when your computer is off) is set to a date / time in the past.

My dad tried fixing the date and time, but this didn’t fix the problem. Other things he tried:

  • Restarting everything
  • Verifying the bios date / time and the OS date / time (both correct).
  • Setting some OCSP check setting in about:config to False (not a good idea)
  • Removing all entries in the history
  • Remove and reinstall Firefox

None of these fixed the problem.

The fix

The thing that finally fixed it was to create a new Firefox profile. For windows:

Start the Firefox profile manager by pressing Windows+R and typing in:

firefox.exe -P

Create a new profile and start firefox with this profile. With this new profile everything should be working again.

What I suspect was happening (but am not sure of) is that during a previous Firefox run, while the date / time were not set correctly, Firefox stored some caching data / timestamp in the profile, which then started causing issues when the date / time was set correctly. Reinstalling Firefox doesn’t help, because it doesn’t remove your profile.

A better solution would be to remove just that cached info from the current profile, but I couldn’t figure out where that info was stored in the profile, so creating a new one is the easiest solution.

Note: If you’re not using Firefox Sync, you’ll lose all your bookmarks, history, passwords, etc. You can do some exporting / importing of that stuff from the old profile (still accessible via the Firefox Profile Manager) to the new profile. Or just enable Firefox Sync in the old profile, wait a bit until it’s done syncing, and then switch to the new profile and repeat.

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