FIXED: The System Cannot Find the File Specified (Error)

The system cannot find the file specified is an error message that can occur on Windows 10 when trying to open or delete a file, launch an application, update the OS, back up data, or perform other file operations.

In more severe scenarios, the error pops up when trying to boot your operating system, showing an orange screen instead. However, there are several ways in which you can repair this problem, depending on where you stumble upon it.

The System Cannot Find the File Specified

How to fix The system cannot find the file specified error on Windows 10

Check out the following fixes. If possible, make sure to create a system restore point so that you can revert Windows 10 if you need to start the solutions from scratch.

1. Restart your computer

Perhaps Windows is showing The system cannot find the file specified error due to a hanging process or a non-responding service. So it’s a good idea to begin with something as basic as restarting your computer. An even better idea is to hard-reboot your PC. After shutdown, unplug the power source and keep the power button pressed for 20-30 seconds to clear the PC cache. Then, boot your operating system and check if your problem is now resolved.

2. Update Windows 10

Adding the latest updates to your operating system is critical for your computer’s maintenance, which is made possible by Windows Update. This service should automatically run in the background, continuously check for updates, and prompt you when further action is required.

Have a look in the notifications center or power options menu for any red dots indicating a pending restart, especially if you haven’t turned off your computer for a long time. Otherwise, you can manually check for updates:

  1. Click the Start button, type check for updates, and press EnterWindows 10 shows how to check for system updates
  2. Click Check for updates and waitWindows 10 shows how to check for updates
  3. If there’s anything pending, click DownloadWindows 10 shows how to download system updates
  4. Don’t shut down or restart your PC during this time. Once the updates are downloaded and installed, perform a PC reboot to finalize the task

3. Run the Windows Update troubleshooter

Many users can’t run Windows Update due to the The system cannot find the file specified error. In that case, you should use the Windows Update troubleshooter to find and fix common problems which prevent this app from running:

  1. Click the Start button, type Troubleshoot settings, and press Enter
  2. Click Additional troubleshooters
  3. Select Windows Update and click Run the troubleshooterWindows 10 shows how to use the Windows Update troubleshooter
  4. Apply any fixes identified by the troubleshooter
  5. Restart your PC and try to run Windows Update now

4. Check the Windows Update services

Some users disable the Windows Update service because it interrupts their activities and takes forever to shut down, start, or restart their computer during urgent tasks. However, if it remains disabled, the service won’t be able to fetch critical updates, resulting in various computer problems.

How to restart the Windows Update services:

  1. Press Win key + R, type services.msc, and press Enter to open the Services app
  2. Find and double-click Windows Update to view its propertiesWindows 10 shows how to access the Windows Update service properties
  3. Set Startup type to Automatic (Delayed Start)
  4. Click the Start button to start the service right away
  5. Click Apply and return to the main windowWindows 10 shows how to change the Windows Update service properties
  6. Find the Background Intelligent Transfer Service and App Readiness services to change the same settings are aboveHow to access Background Intelligent Transfer Service properties

It’s also a good idea to turn off Network List Service, which sometimes conflicts with the Windows Update service:

  1. Locate and double-click Network List Service to access its propertiesWindows shows how to access the network list service properties
  2. Set Startup type to Disabled
  3. Click Stop to terminate the service
  4. Click Apply and exit to the desktopWindows shows how to disable network list service
  5. Try to run Windows Update now

5. Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode

If the The system cannot find the file specified error is triggered by a faulty third-party driver or service, you can run Windows 10 in Safe Mode to automatically turn off all drivers and services that don’t belong to your operating system. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Right-click the Start button and go to Settings
  2. Select Update & SecurityWindows 10 shows how to access the Update and Security settings
  3. Go to Recovery
  4. At Advanced Start, click Restart nowWindows 10 shows how to restart in Advanced Startup mode
  5. Go to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup SettingsWindows 10 shows the advanced startup options
  6. Click Restart
  7. If you don’t need Internet access, press F4. Else, press F5 to enable Safe Mode with networking

6. Disable startup apps

If Safe Mode didn’t help fix the The system cannot find the file specified error, try disabling startup programs. For example, you might have a security application that’s scheduled to run automatically every time you turn on your computer, which conflicts with critical system processes. It can be difficult to identify the guilty party, so it’s better to turn off everything.

How to disable startup programs:

  1. Right-click the Windows 10 taskbar and select Task Manager
  2. Go to the Startup section
  3. For every application with the Enabled status, select its entry and click DisableWindows 10 shows how to disable startup processes
  4. Restart your computer

7. Clean boot the OS

Performing a clean boot on Windows 10 is somewhat similar to Safe Mode. The difference is that clean boot disables not only non-essential devices and services but also startup items. Here’s how to configure it:

  1. Press Win key + R, type msconfig, and press Enter to open the System Configuration app
  2. Stay in the General tab
  3. Choose Selective startup
  4. Uncheck Load system services and Load startup items
  5. Click Apply
  6. Switch to the Startup tab
  7. Click Open Task Manager
  8. Disable all startup apps with the Enabled statusWindows 10 shows how to disable startup processes
  9. Restart your computer

If you later need to restore the boot settings to default, open the System Configuration app and select Normal startup.

8. Uninstall third-party applications

Getting the The system cannot find the file specified error after launching application could signal a software conflict. Perhaps your program is clashing with another one, such as two antivirus programs with separate real-time engines. There’s nothing to do except remove the other application from your computer.

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Apps and Features
  2. Locate and select a program from the list
  3. Click Uninstall and then again to confirm
  4. Proceed with the wizard
  5. Restart your computer

However, if the program has changed registry settings, the Windows default uninstaller won’t help restore them. Instead, you should use a software uninstaller that deletes not only a program but also any leftover files and registry entries.

9. Disconnect external devices

Conflicts may also be caused by unsupported peripheral devices recently plugged into your computer. If you recently purchased or received a new piece of hardware as a gift, like a Wi-Fi adapter, new headphones, a webcam, or a USB flash drive, immediately remove it from your PC and then restart to check if this solved the The system cannot find the file specified error.

It might not be the device’s fault but your port’s. Try changing USB ports if you have multiple options available. Otherwise, plug a multi-port USB hub into the computer, and then your device into the hub instead of directly into your PC. It sometimes works.

10. Run CHKDSK

CHKDSK (Check Disk) is a Windows internal tool that you can operate from the command-line environment. It helps repair hard drive corruption issues and bad sectors which may prevent your computer from running properly and cause the The system cannot find the file specified error as a result.

How to use CHKDSK:

  1. Click the Start button, type Command Prompt, select this app, and click Run as administrator
  2. If Windows is installed on the default C: drive, type chkdsk c: /f /r. Otherwise, make sure to replace c: with the OS partition letter
  3. When asked to schedule CHKDSK at the next system reboot, type y and press Enter
  4. Reboot your PC and wait until CHKDSK does its job

11. Run SFC

If you still get the The system cannot find the file specified error after running the CHKDSK tool, perhaps you should shift your attention to the system since it might have corrupt or missing files. SFC (System File Checker) can help you in this regard.

How to use SFC:

  1. Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode
  2. Press Win key + R and press Enter run Command Prompt
  3. Write sfc /scannow and press EnterWindows shows how to run the sfc scannow command in CMD
  4. After SFC finishes, reboot your PC

12. Run DISM

DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) is a more advanced tool than SFC because it can check the integrity of the component store in the Windows image file.

How to use DISM:

  1. Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode
  2. Open Command Prompt
  3. Type DISM /online /cleanup-image /scanhealth and press EnterWindows 10 shows how to run DISM /online /cleanup-image /scanhealth in CMD
  4. If it identifies any errors, run DISM /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth to get rid of them
  5. After it finishes, restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode
  6. Open Command Prompt and run SFC (sfc /scannow)
  7. Restart your PC normally

13. Consult the system log

You can find out the exact device driver that’s causing the The system cannot find the file specified error by consulting the system log file. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Press Win key + E to open Windows Explorer
  2. Go to the following address:
    %SystemRoot%INF
  3. Find and open the setupapi.dev or setupapi.dev.log file in NotepadWindows Explorer shows how to access the setupapi log file
  4. Press Ctrl + F, type system cannot find the file, and press EnterThe setup file log file shows the System cannot find the file specified error
  5. At FilePath, copy the name of the driver
  6. Open a web browser and enter the driver file name to find out the device it belongs to

Once you identify the guilty device, you can take further action in Device Manager (proceed with the following solutions).

14. Quickly reinstall devices

By taking into account the driver and device found in the system log, you should head over to Device Manager in order to reinstall the device. If it wasn’t properly installed on your Windows 10 PC, this method should fix it. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Device Manager
  2. Find the device and double-click it
  3. Switch to the Driver tab and click Driver Details
  4. Here you can double-check that the driver file matches the information you found in the system log
  5. Return to the main window of Device Manager
  6. Right-click the device and select Uninstall deviceWindows shows how to uninstall the camera device
  7. Check Delete the driver software for this device and click Uninstall to confirm
  8. Open the Action menu and select Scan for hardware changesDevice Manager shows how to scan for hardware changes
  9. If the device doesn’t reappear in Device Manager, reboot your PC since Windows will auto-reinstall the missing adapter

15. Update device drivers

It’s possible that the device is properly installed on your computer but its driver is outdated. The solution here is to update the obsolete drivers:

  1. Press Win key + R, type devmgmt.msc, and press Enter
  2. Right-click the device and select Update driverWindows 10 shows how to update the storage controller driver
  3. Click Search automatically for drivers and follow the on-screen instructions

If the online search doesn’t return any results, click Search for updated drivers on Windows Update. However, if you have already checked for system updates or the dedicated service doesn’t work, then you have to manually download and install drivers.

However, if you don’t want to risk installing an unsupported driver, it’s better to use a driver update tool. Besides, you can use it to update all your obsolete drivers at the same time, without risking compatibility issues.

16. Roll back drivers

If you have already downloaded an unsupported driver, you must roll it back to the previous version before performing the update. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Click the Start button, search for Device Manager, and press Enter
  2. Right-click a device and go to Properties
  3. Select the Driver section
  4. Click Roll Back Driver and follow the instructions. If the button is greyed out, you can skip this step since you can’t perform the rollbackThe Roll Back Driver button for the camera driver is greyed out

17. Reinstall programs

Some software applications should be reset, repaired, or reinstalled, depending on the available operations. It certainly applies in the scenario where the The system cannot find the file specified error started appearing on your screen after a recent software change.

You have multiple options when it comes to Microsoft Store apps. Click the Start button, search for a program, and go to App settings. From that section, you can repair or reset the app with one click. And, if those two options fail, you should uninstall the app and reinstall it from Microsoft Store.

It’s simpler with regular software programs since the repair option rarely works. Instead, you can uninstall the application from Apps & Features, then download it again from its official website and proceed with the setup operation.

18. Check registry settings

If you can’t open files or launch applications due to the The system cannot find the file specified error, you should inspect registry settings to make sure that everything is in order. It’s pretty easy. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Click the Start button, search for Registry Editor, and hit Enter to open this app
  2. Open the File menu and click ExportHow to create a registry backup
  3. Create a registry backup by setting a file name, picking a destination, and clicking Save. If you need to restore the initial registry configuration later, just double-click the .reg file
  4. Visit the following address:
    ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion
  5. Look for the RunOnce key (looks like a folder in the tree on the left)Registry Editor shows how to check the RunOnce key in Local Machine
  6. If the key doesn’t exist, right-click the CurrentVersion key and select New > KeyRegistry Editor shows how to create a new key in Current Version
  7. Set the key name to RunOnce
  8. Now, go to this location:
    ComputerHKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion

    Registry Editor shows how to check the RunOnce key in Current User

  9. Take the same steps: if the RunOnce key doesn’t exist, create it
  10. Exit Registry Editor

19. Restore the original registry settings

If the system registry suffered more modifications that you can’t identify, it’s easier to restore its configuration to factory values, which is more effective than using a registry cleaner. Here’s how to make it happen.

  1. Click the Start button, search for Registry Editor, and launch this tool
  2. Create a registry backup:
    • Open the File menu and click Export
    • Set a file name and destination
    • Click Save to create a backup of the current registry settings
  3. Press the Windows key and click the power button to view power options
  4. While holding down the Shift key, click Restart to reboot Windows in troubleshooting mode
  5. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt
  6. Choose your PC account and enter your password to continue
  7. Write the following commands and hit Enter after each one:
    • cd %SystemRoot%System32config
    • ren %SystemRoot%System32configDEFAULT DEFAULT.old
    • ren %SystemRoot%System32configSAM SAM.old
    • ren %SystemRoot%System32configSECURITY SECURITY.old
    • ren %SystemRoot%System32configSOFTWARE SOFTWARE.old
    • ren %SystemRoot%System32configSYSTEM SYSTEM.old
    • copy %SystemRoot%System32configRegBackDEFAULT %SystemRoot%System32config
    • copy %SystemRoot%System32configRegBackDEFAULT %SystemRoot%System32config
    • copy %SystemRoot%System32configRegBackSAM %SystemRoot%System32config
    • copy %SystemRoot%System32configRegBackSECURITY %SystemRoot%System32config
    • copy %SystemRoot%System32configRegBackSYSTEM %SystemRoot%System32config
    • copy %SystemRoot%System32configRegBackSOFTWARE %SystemRoot%System32config
  8. Restart your computer

20. Uninstall system updates

Some Windows updates end up harming your computer and causing various problems, including the The system cannot find the file specified error. In this case, the best course of action is to remove the most recent system update. Here’s how:

  1. Press Win key + R, type appwiz.cpl, and hit EnterWindows 10 shows how to run appwiz.cpl
  2. Click View installed updatesWindows 10 shows how to view installed Windows updates
  3. To sort the updates by time of installed, click the Installed On columnWindows 10 shows how to sort installed Windows Updates by date
  4. Search for the Microsoft Windows category
  5. Double-click the first update in that group
  6. When asked to confirm its uninstall, click YesWindows 10 shows how to confirm Windows updates removal
  7. Restart your computer

If you can’t boot Windows due to the The system cannot find the file specified error, you can interrupt the startup sequence three times in a row to start Windows troubleshooting mode. Then go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Uninstall Updates.

21. Check your computer for malware

A malware agent could have infected system files, thus preventing you from opening any files or launching applications. To fix this issue, you can resort to Windows Defender:

  1. Press the Win key, search for Windows Security, and open this app
  2. Select Virus & threat protectionWindows 10 shows how to select Virus and Threat Protection
  3. Click Scan optionsWindows 10 shows how to access Windows Defender scan options
  4. Pick Quick scan and click Scan nowWindows 10 shows how to run a Quick Scan using Windows Defender
  5. If it doesn’t find any threats, choose Windows Defender Offline scan and click Scan nowWindows 10 shows how to perform a Windows Defender offline scan
  6. Allow Windows to quarantine or remove any suspicious files. If you think some of those files are safe, make sure to add them to the whitelist, in order to exclude them from any upcoming scans

If you have a third-party security solution that you rely on, make sure to adjust the steps above.

22. Use a Linux live distro

You might think that your data will be lost forever due to this serious error. And it might be impossible to even perform a disk backup because Windows doesn’t recognize the selected files. If there’s a major problem with your OS that requires system reset, you can save your files with the help of a Linux live distro.

Simply put, you will be creating a USB flash drive that boots a Linux-based operating system (e.g. Ubuntu), in order to gain access to your files and copy them somewhere safe. Since it’s not Windows, you shouldn’t be getting the The system cannot find the file specified error anymore. Then, you can safely proceed with more dangerous scenarios that involve data loss, like disk formatting.

How to create a Linux live distro with Rufus:

  1. Download a Linux distro. If you can’t decide which, we suggest Ubuntu since it’s intuitive
  2. Connect a USB flash drive to your PC. Make sure it doesn’t contain any files you might need later since the disk will be formatted
  3. Download Rufus from the official website
  4. Install and run Rufus
  5. Choose the pen drive and set Boot section to Disk or ISO image
  6. Click SELECT and add the Ubuntu ISO
  7. Set Partition scheme to MBR
  8. At File system, select FAT32Rufus shows how to create a bootable USB drive with Ubuntu
  9. Click OK and wait for Rufus to create your Linux live distro drive

How to boot Linux from the USB flash drive:

  1. Keep the flash drive plugged into your PC
  2. Restart Windows
  3. Right after your display turns on and before Windows boots, press the key shown on the screen to enter the boot startup menu (e.g. F12)
  4. Select the USB storage drive and hit Enter
  5. Once Ubuntu loads, create a backup of your files

23. Change drive letters

You might be experiencing file access errors due to your HDD or SSD. For instance, if it doesn’t have a partition letter assigned, or if it shares the letter with another drive, you should immediately fix this problem. The simplest way to do this is by using Disk Management.

How to assign drive letters with Disk Management:

  1. Press Win key + R, type diskmgmt.msc, and press Enter
  2. In Disk Management, select the drive that’s giving you trouble
  3. Right-click the drive and select Change Drive Letters and PathsDisk Management shows how to change drive letters and paths
  4. If the drive already has a letter
    1. Click Change
    2. Set a new drive letter
    3. Click OK
  5. If the drive doesn’t have a letter
    1. Click Add
    2. At Mount in the following empty NTFS folder, click Browse
    3. Set the new drive path by selecting an empty NTFS folder and click OK
    4. Then, click OK to confirm
  6. Quit to the desktop

However, if you can’t access Disk Management or if it doesn’t identify your drive, you can turn to the console environment.

How to assign drive letters with Command Prompt:

  1. Press Windows key + R, type cmd, then press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to launch Command Prompt with elevated rights
  2. Type diskpart and hit Enter to use the partition manager built into Windows
  3. Run list volume to view all current drives
  4. Check out the number assigned to your disk or partition. Run select volume # and use that number (e.g. select volume 4)
  5. Write assign letter= and add the new drive letter (e.g. assign letter=e). Hit Enter
  6. Quit to the desktop

24. Format the partition

If changing the drive letter didn’t help get rid of the The system cannot find the file specified error, it’s time to format the partition. Keep in mind that it means losing everything saved there.

So, you should perform a backup before proceeding with this solution. If you can’t perform the backup in Windows, check out the previous solution on how to create a backup from a Linux distro.

How to format a partition using Windows Explorer:

  1. Press Win key + E to open File Explorer on Windows 10
  2. Select the drive, right-click it, and choose FormatWindows Explorer shows how to format a drive
  3. At File system, select NTFS
  4. Leave Quick Format enabled
  5. Click StartWindows Explorer shows how to configure drive format settings

How to format a partition using Disk Management:

  1. Right-click the Start button and launch Disk Management
  2. Pick the partition, right-click it, and select Format
  3. Set File system to NTFS
  4. Leave Perform a quick format enabled
  5. Click OKWindows shows how to configure format settings in Disk Management

How to format a partition using Command Prompt:

  1. Press the Win key, search for Command Prompt, and click Run as administrator. If prompted by User Account Control, click Yes
  2. Type diskpart and press Enter
  3. Run list volume to view all volumes
  4. Identify the number of your partition and use it when entering select volume # (e.g. select volume 5)
  5. Run format fs=ntfs to format the partition as NTFSWindows shows how to format a volume using diskpart

25. Roll back the operating system

You can roll back Windows 10 to a restore point that was recorded before you started experiencing the The system cannot find the file specified error, thanks to System Restore. It means undoing all software modifications made to your computer that you can’t detect and which somehow led to file access and application launch issues. However, it automatically means that all programs you installed after the restore point was recorded will no longer exist, so you will have to install them again.

How to use System Restore:

  1. Sign in to Windows 10 with an administrator account
  2. Click the Start button, find Control Panel, and open this app
  3. Select RecoveryWindows 10 shows how to access Recovery from Control Panel
  4. Click Open System RestoreWindows 10 shows how to open System Restore
  5. Choose a restore point or click Show more restore points to get more options. Click Scan for affected programs to discover the exact applications you will have to reinstallWindows 10 shows a couple of system restore points
  6. After making a selection, click Next and follow the remaining steps

If you can’t boot Windows 10, interrupt the startup three times in a row to access system troubleshooting mode. Then, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > System Restore.

26. Reset Windows 10

If you still can’t shake off the The system cannot find the file specified error or if System Restore didn’t work, there’s nothing left to do except restore Windows 10 to factory settings. It means uninstalling all your applications and reverting the system configuration to default. But you can keep your personal files, so it’s not necessary to perform a backup.

How to reset Windows 10:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Settings
  2. Click Update & Security and select Recovery
  3. At Reset this PC, click Get startedWindows 10 shows how to reset this PC
  4. Pick Keep my files and follow the remaining instructionsWindows 10 shows the PC reset options

You can also turn your PC on and off three times to launch Advanced Startup mode before Windows boot. There, you can go to Troubleshoot > Reset your PC.

If you managed to get hold of your files by using the Linux live distro, we suggest performing a clean reset by selecting the Remove everything option instead of Keep my files.

Error The system cannot find the file specified can be fixed

To review, you can try to fix the The system cannot find the file specified error by restarting your PC, updating Windows 10, running the Windows Update troubleshooter, checking the Windows Update services, starting the OS in Safe Mode, disabling startup apps, running a clean boot, and uninstalling third-party applications.

It’s also a good idea to disconnect external devices, run CHKDSK, SFC and DISM, investigate the system log, reinstall devices, update or roll back drivers, reinstall programs, check registry settings or restore the registry to default, uninstall system updates, run a malware scan, use a Linux live distro, change drive letters, format partitions, use System Restore, and reset Windows 10.

How did you repair this error? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

The post FIXED: The System Cannot Find the File Specified (Error) appeared first on TechtricksNg.

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