Full Fix: ERROR_PATH_NOT_FOUND error on Windows 10, 8.1, 7

By: Madeleine Dean
6 minute read

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  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues (requires upgrade).

If you’re getting the ‘ERROR_PATH_NOT_FOUND 3 (0x3)’ or ‘The system cannot find the path specified’ error code, use the troubleshooting steps listed in this article to fix it.

ERROR_PATH_NOT_FOUND: What is it and how to fix it

System cannot find path specified message can be problematic, but sometimes similar issues can occur. Regarding those issues, here are some similar problems that users reported:

  • Error_path_not_found Windows 7 sp1 – This issue can appear on any version of Windows, and even if you don’t use Windows 10, feel free to try any of our solutions.
  • Error path not found Lenovo – Many PC brands can experience this issue, and in order to fix it, install the latest updates and perform SFC and DISM scans.

Solution 1 – Check your antivirus

Error path not found Lenovo

Several users reported that their antivirus was the cause for this issue, and in order to fix it, it’s suggested that you temporarily disable your third-party antivirus software. If disabling the antivirus doesn’t fix the problem, you might have to uninstall it.

Users claim that removing your antivirus can fix the issue in some instances, so you might want to try that. If removing the antivirus solves the problem, you should consider switching to a different antivirus solution. There are many great antivirus tools on the market, but if you want maximum protection that won’t interfere with your antivirus, be sure to try out BullGuard.


Solution 2 — Repair your registry

The simplest way to repair your registry is to use a dedicated tool, such as CCleaner. Don’t forget to first backup your registry in case anything goes wrong. If you haven’t installed any registry cleaner on your computer, check out our article on the best registry cleaners to use on Windows 10 PCs.


Solution 3 – Perform an SFC and DISM scans

Another cause for System cannot find path specified error can be file corruption. Sometimes your Windows installation can get corrupted, and that can cause this and many other errors to appear. However, you might be able to fix the issue by performing an SFC scan. To do that, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Open Win + X menu by using Windows Key + X shortcut. Alternatively, you can right-click the Start button. Choose Command Prompt (Admin) or PowerShell (Admin) from the menu.
    Error_path_not_found Windows 7 sp1
  2. After the Command Prompt opens, run the sfc /scannow command.
    Error path not found Lenovo
  3. SFC scan should now start. We have to mention that this scan can take about 10-15 minutes, so don’t interfere with it.

If the problem persists after running the SFC scan, you might have to run the DISM scan. This is quite simple, and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Start Command Prompt as administrator.
  2. Enter DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth command and press Enter.
    Error_path_not_found Windows 7 sp1
  3. DISM scan will start repairing your installation. This process can take about 20 minutes, sometimes more, so don’t interrupt it.

Once the DISM scan is finished, check if the problem is resolved. If the issue is still there, repeat the SFC scan once again.


Solution 4 — Update your OS

If you keep getting System cannot find path specified error, you might be able to fix the problem simply by installing the latest updates. This issue can appear due to certain bugs on your system, and the best way to deal with them is to keep your system up to date. To do that, just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app. You can do so quickly by using Windows Key + I shortcut.
  2. Navigate to Update & Security section.
    Error path not found Lenovo
  3. In the right pane, click Check for updates button.
    Error_path_not_found Windows 7 sp1

Windows will now check for available updates. If any updates are available, they will be downloaded automatically in the background. After the updates are downloaded, simply restart your PC in order to install them.

Once your PC is up to date, the problem should be completely resolved.


Solution 5 — Clean your temporary files and folders

Sometimes temporary or old files can cause System cannot find path specified error to appear. If that’s the case, you need to remove those files from your PC. The best way to do that is to use Disk Cleanup tool in Windows 10.

This is a quite useful tool that can free up space and remove problematic files, and you can use it by following these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter disk cleanup. Now choose Disk Cleanup.
    Error_path_not_found Windows 7 sp1
  2. Select your system drive, by default it should be C, and click OK.
    Error path not found Lenovo
  3. Disk Cleanup will now scan your drive.
  4. When Disk Cleanup window opens, you’ll see a list of files. Select all files on the list and click OK.
    Error_path_not_found Windows 7 sp1
  5. Optional: If you want, you can click Clean up system files button to remove old and unnecessary system files from your PC.

After using Disk Cleanup, check if the problem is still there. Several users claim that Windows.old folder was the cause for this issue, so be sure to select Previous Windows installations in Disk Cleanup in order to remove it.


Solution 6 – Perform a chkdsk scan

In some cases, file corruption can cause System cannot find path specified message to appear. To fix this issue, you need to run a chkdsk scan and scan your system drive. This is quite simple to do, and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Start Command Prompt as administrator.
  2. When Command Prompt opens, run chkdsk /f X: command. Be sure to replace X with the letter that represents your system drive. In almost all cases that’s C.
    Error path not found Lenovo
  3. You’ll be asked to schedule a scan. Press Y to do so.
  4. Now restart your PC and the chkdsk scan will run before Windows starts.

After the scan is finished, check if the problem is still there. If you want, you can also repeat this scan for all other partitions on your system and check if that helps.


Solution 7 — Download the file/ app again

This error also occurs if the download process got damaged or corrupted. In this case, try downloading the respective file or the entire app again. You can also use a dedicated download manager for this task.


Solution 8 — Change the location of the file

Moving the file affected by the ‘path not found’ error to a different folder may fix the problem. Try moving the file to a different folder on the same drive. If this doesn’t work, try moving it on a different drive.

Also, make sure that the destination folder is not set to Read-Only. Here’s how to check this:

  1. Right click the folder > select Properties
  2. Go to the Attributes section > the Read-only option should be unchecked

Error_path_not_found Windows 7 sp1


Solution 9 – Remove conflicting software

In some cases, third-party applications can cause this problem to appear, and in order to fix System cannot find path specified message, it’s advised that you remove any recently installed applications or the application that is giving you this error.

This is fairly simple to do, but if you want to completely remove an application, we advise using uninstaller software. By using uninstaller software such as Revo Uninstaller, you’ll completely remove all files associated with the application you’re trying to remove and ensure that the issue doesn’t reappear.


Solution 10 – Perform a System Restore

If this problem started occurring recently, you might be able to fix it simply by performing a System Restore. This is quite simple to do, and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and type system restore. Select Create a restore point from the menu.
  2. Click the System Restore button.
  3. System Restore window will now open. Click Next to proceed.
    Error path not found Lenovo
  4. Check Show more restore points option if it’s available. Select the desired restore point and click Next.
    Error_path_not_found Windows 7 sp1
  5. Follow the instructions on the screen.

After you perform a System Restore, check if the problem is resolved.

If you’ve come across other workarounds to this error, feel free to list the troubleshooting steps in the comment section below.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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