Error 2: The system cannot find the file specified. Even after restarting the printer spooler service

I tried all the suggestions posted and have had no success in restarting my print spooler. Please help.

 

Original Title: I tried to restart the print spooler as directed, and it returned the message Error 2: The system cannot find the file specified. What does that mean and is it fixable?

 
Question Info

Last updated July 7, 2018 Views 34,245 Applies to:
Answer
Trying to start the Print Spooler Service you see a message like this:

Could not start the Print Spooler service on Local Computer.
Error 2:  The system cannot find the file specified.

If you look at the Print Spooler Service in the Services applet, it shows the Print Spooler Service set to Automatic, but it is not running and will not start.

If you look in the Event Viewer System log you will see a message similar to this:

Event Type:    Error
Event Source:    Service Control Manager
Event Category:    None
Event ID:    7000
Description:
The Print Spooler service failed to start due to the following error:
The system cannot find the file specified.


An Error 2 means that the specified file could not be found.  

In the case of the Print Spooler Service, the most likely file to be missing is:

c:\windows\system32\spoolsv.exe

I can assure you with 100% certainty that running sfc /scannow will not help you.  That is not how SFC works, that is not what it does and that is not what it is for.  Plus, if you do not have a genuine bootable XP installation CD of the same Service Pack as your installed Service Pack SFC is going to complain - alot.

You could "try" running sfc /scannow if you are compelled to do so, but it will not help you.

I can also assure you with 100% certainty that the Microsoft automated Fixit troubleshooter will not help you either.

You must replace the missing or corrupt file manually.

We know that XP keep backup copies of critical system files in other places on your system.

When you find a copy of the missing file, copy it and paste it into the c:\windows\system32 folder where it belongs.

Use the Windows Search or Explorer to navigate to the folder where the backup files are, find the spoolsv.exe file, copy it and paste it into the c:\windows\system32 folder where it belongs.

The best place to look for backup copies of missing system files are:

c:\windows\system32\dllcache
c:\windows\ServicePackFiles\i386  (depending on your installation)

If you find a copy of spoolsv.exe is either of those folders, copy and paste it into the c:\windows\system32 folder

When pasting the file into the c:\windows\system32 folder, respond in the affirmative if asked to replace or overwrite the existing file.
 
See if you can start the Print Spooler Service now.

Reboot your system and test to be sure that things are working properly after rebooting.

If you can't find the file there, search your hard drive(s) and see if you can find a copy.  You could also copy the missing file from a working system using a floppy or USB device, email the file to yourself etc.

If you still can't find a copy of the spoolsv.exe file, there is one on my SkyDrive you can download to your system to your system.

Deleting the spoolsv.exe file manually would require some extra effort since it is one of the 3498 files that Windows XP automatically looks after.  Windows File Protection should automatically replace the file quickly and silently if it ever disappears.

Replacing the file may provide immediate relief for the symptom of the problem but does not actually fix the real problem... which is how did the file ever come up missing in the first place?  It is important to fix the actual problem and not just treat the symptom of the problem.

If there is not a copy of the spoolsv.exe file in the c:\windows\system32\dllcache folder, there needs to be.  That is where Windows File Protection looks for copies of the 3498 files that is monitors.  If the a file is missing from the dllcache folder, Windows File Protection will not be able to replace the file if it ever comes up missing.

Possibilities for critical XP files to come up are some malicious software has afflicted your system or your antivirus or antimalware programs thought the file was infected (maybe is really was) and quarantined/deleted the file.

I uploaded a copy of the XP Pro SP3 file you need to my SkyDrive (everybody has a SkyDrive for sharing files).

You can download it and when you do, put a copy of the file in these folders (assuming Windows is installed on your C drive):

c:\windows\system32
c:\windows\system32\dllcache    (that is where XP keeps backup copies of important files).

Here is the link to my SkyDrive and you can look for the file you need there:

https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=6a7e789cab1d6f39&id=6A7E789CAB1D6F39!311

When you see the files available for download, you may not see the file extension (.exe, .dll, .cpl, .sys, .zip, etc.), but when you download them they will have the correct extension.

When you download the file (especially if you use Internet Explorer), when you get a chance to save the file, your browser may not save the file with an extension (like .exe, .dll, .cpl, .sys, .zip, etc.) so you will have to manually add the proper extension to the file when you download the file before you save it.

You can download the file with no extension and then rename the file to add the proper extension.  You don't want to try to use a file called spoolsv when the file name really needs to be called spoolsv.exel (if the downloaded file has no extension you will have to change the name of the file to add the proper extension to get it to work.

You then need to put the downloaded files in the correct folders on your system.

That may not solve all your issues, but you will at least be past that part and then we can fix the rest.

Somehow I knew a Microsoft engaged Support Engineer "expert" would suggest running SFC and the Fixit...  this tells me that they have not bothered to reproduce the problem and see if their own ideas work  This is a real shame that these "expert" keep repeatedly sending folks on these wild goose chases, but that is how they do things around here.

1 person was helped by this reply

·

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

Answer
@Winston M Microsoft engaged Support Engineer "expert"

I can see from your reply that you have not taken the time to reproduce the problem and then try your own ideas to check if the issue persists.

Here is what I suggest for you so you can learn how XP actually works:

Boot into the XP Recovery Console or Safe Mode so Windows File Protection is not running.

Rename your c:\windows\system32\spoolsv.exe file to something you can remember (like spoolsv.bak).  Now the file is "missing".

Reboot normally.

Then try to start the Print Spooler Service and you will see the error.

Then why don't you follow your own advice and run SFC and the automated troubleshooter (like you suggested) and check if the issue persists.

Please report your results.

When you see that it does not help and that SFC does not replace missing or corrupt file (in the system32 folder) and that the automated troubleshooter also does not help, you will be singing a different tune (hopefully).

Be sure to rename your spoolsv.bak to spoolsv.exe when you are done messing around.


Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.