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How to Determine the Source of a File

This article was previously published under Q304590
This article has been archived. It is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.
For a Microsoft Windows XP version of this article, see 323714.
This article provides general guidelines about how to determine the source of a file.
More information
When you receive an error message, you may not be sure which program the file is associated with that is referenced in the error message. The methods in this article may help you identify the source of a file and the product with which it may be included.

You may receive an error message if a file is missing, for example:
Cannot find a device file that may be needed to run Windows or a Windows application.

The Windows registry or SYSTEM.INI file refers to this device file, but the device file no longer exists.
Note that the file name may or may not be included in the error message.

How to Troubleshoot File Error Messages

To determine the source of a file error message, first attempt to identify the name of the file or files from the error message, and then use one of the following methods.

View the Properties for the File

To view the properties of a specific file: Right-click the file, and then click Properties. Click the Version tab.

In the Other Version Information box, the source company may be listed as well as the program or product with which the file is included. If the source company is a company other then Microsoft, use the links at the end of this article to obtain support from the manufacturer.

Query the Microsoft Knowledge Base for the File Name

To query the Microsoft Knowledge Base, click the following link: Search for the terms "directory listing" for your product. When you do this, you receive a list of directory listing articles for the Microsoft products that install that file. If this method does not provide the information that you want, search again by using only the file name.

This method may also help you identify a file that is included with a third-party program as well as any known or reported issues.

Error Message Because the File Is Missing or Damaged

If a missing or damaged file is causing an error message, use clean boot troubleshooting to determine from where the file is loaded.

For additional information about clean boot troubleshooting, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
267288 How to Perform a Clean Boot in Windows Millennium Edition
192926 How to Perform Clean-Boot Troubleshooting for Windows 98
281995 How to Troubleshoot Using the Msconfig Utility in Windows Me
281965 How to Troubleshoot Using the Msconfig Utility with Windows 98
243039 How to Perform a Clean Boot in Windows 95
For additional information about how to troubleshoot the error message, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
132008 Err Msg: Cannot Find a Device File That May Be Needed...

Other Information Sources

  • Product Support Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

    FAQs are available by product. FAQs list commonly asked product support questions and provide links to troubleshooting information.

    To view the FAQ for your specific product, view the following Microsoft Web site, and then click your product.

Third-Party Contact Information

If the file is from a third-party manufacturer, contact that manufacturer for more information and support.

For information about your hardware manufacturer, visit the following Web site:Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.

Article ID: 304590 - Last Review: 12/06/2015 04:27:08 - Revision: 1.0

Microsoft Windows 95

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