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Err Msg: Cannot Find 'C:\Program' or One of Its Components

This article was previously published under Q220956
IMPORTANT: This article contains information about modifying the registry. Before you modify the registry, make sure to back it up and make sure that you understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For information about how to back up, restore, and edit the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
256986 Description of the Microsoft Windows Registry
When you start your computer, you may receive the following error message:
Cannot find C:\Program or one of its components.
Or, if there is a C:\Program folder on your computer, the folder may open automatically when you start your computer.

This behavior can occur if you have America Online (AOL) Instant Messenger installed. Windows NT cannot read past the space in the "C:\Program Files\Aim95\Aim95.exe" value located in the following registry key:

Name: AIM
Type: REG_SZ
Data: C:\Program Files\aim95\aim95.exe -cnetwait.odl
WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

To resolve this issue, use the appropriate method:

Method 1

  1. In AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), click Setup.
  2. On the General tab, click to clear the Start AIM when Windows Starts check box.
This removes AIM from the Run key in the registry.

Method 2

View the following key with Registry Editor:
If any value contains a space (such as "C:\Program Files"), edit the value and place quotation marks (") at the beginning and end of the value. For example,
"C:\Program Files\Aim95\Aim95.exe"
instead of
C:\Program Files\Aim95\Aim95.exe

NOTE:This same error can occur if the following entry is in place. The same registry key needs to be checked for the following entry.
MSMSGS"="C:\\Program Files\\Messenger\\msmsgs.exe /background

Method 3

Either remove the entry or open MSN instant messenger from the taskbar. Or Select Tools/options/Preferences and unselect the following options.
1. Run this program when windows starts
2. Allow this program to run in the background.
3. Change the registry key
If any value contains a space (such as "C:\Program Files"), edit the value and place quotation marks (") at the beginning and end of the value. For example:

C:\Program Files\ Messenger\msmsgs.exe /background

instead of
C:\Program Files\Messenger\msmsgs.exe /background
This problem can occur if you clear the "Start AIM when Windows Starts" check box and then later select it again.

When AIM is initially installed, it adds itself to the Run key in the registry using the MS-DOS version of the path (C:\Progra~1\Aim95\Aim95.exe). If you clear the check box and then select it later, AIM add the setting using long file names but no quotation marks(C:\Program Files\Aim95\Aim95.exe).

The third-party products that are discussed in this article are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.

Article ID: 220956 - Last Review: 11/01/2006 03:34:11 - Revision: 1.1

  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • kb3rdparty kbenv kberrmsg kbprb KB220956