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New computer, fresh install, copied old profile, try to use: "A profile with this name already exists. Please choose another name"


I am setting up firefox on a new computer. I have long forgotten my sync password, so I have my old profile.

Install firefox. Start up. Some mumble.default profile is created. Load profile manager extension, go to the profile manager. Delete the old profile. Copy my profile(s) from old computer's backup to new computer data. Now create a new profile.

I cannot make a profile named "default"; I'm told that a profile with this name already exists. Attempting to select an existing folder does not help.

Exited firefox. Spent a few minutes searching on the web. Apparently, what I am supposed to do is, instead of bringing my entire old profile folder over, I am supposed to replace the contents of the new profile folder with the contents of the old profile folder.

Well, that's a surprise.

Lets start up firefox, and go back to the profile manager.

Err, I can't. "Your firefox profile cannot be loaded. It may be missing or inaccessible."

How do I proceed? I have attempted reinstalling firefox. No help.

Windows 7.

Additional System Details

Installed Plug-ins

  • Displays Java applet content, or a placeholder if Java is not installed.
  • Shockwave Flash 11.5 r502
  • The QuickTime Plugin allows you to view a wide variety of multimedia content in web pages. For more information, visit the QuickTime Web site.
  • iPhoto6


  • User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.7; rv:17.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/17.0

More Information

Cannot run firefox on the machine in question. Cannot obtain any information.

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10748 solutions 96724 answers

You can give the profile another name and click the "Choose folder" in the profile manager to set the location of the new profile to that specific profile that you want to use.

You can also only copy the two files key3.db and signons.sqlite to an existing profile folder to inspect the sync key and sync password in the password manager.

You can find the sync account password and the sync (recovery) key in the password manager on computers where a sync account with a specific e-mail address has been set up.

Look for:

  • chrome://weave (Mozilla Services Password)
  • chrome://weave (Mozilla Services Encryption Passphrase)

Question owner

Copying the password files to examine the sync password: Wonderful! That's nice to know.

The big problem for me turned out to just be that I could not start firefox on that machine/account at all.

I actually got "lucky": after a good night's sleep, I checked the recycle bin. Sure enough, my old profile directory was there.

That let me restart firefox. And I can now read that sync password, now that I know where it is. Thanks.

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  • Moderator
10748 solutions 96724 answers

Helpful Reply

You're welcome. Glad that you were able to fix it.