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How to Locate a Missing Configuration File

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Many computer programs use external configuration files to load settings and other information. When one of these configuration files goes missing, becomes corrupted or somehow ends up in the wrong location, it can be a major headache for computer users. Searching for and restoring misplaced configuration files are generally easy, even for users with modest computer skills.

  • Write down the exact error that occurs when you try to launch your software. It should be similar to “Unable to find configuration file c:\path\file.ini” where “path” will be the expected location of the file on your computer, and “file.ini” will be the name of the missing configuration file.
  • Click the “Start” button in the lower-left corner of your desktop, then click “Search.”
  • Use only the “filename” field in the search window that pops up. The default settings will be to search all locations on all local drives, which is exactly what you want to do. If your error states “Unable to find C:\Program Files\Software123\config\settings.ini,” then you should put “settings.ini” in the “filename” field. Run the search.
  • Check the results of the search for promising files. If somebody was recently troubleshooting the software, he may have saved off a copy like “settings.ini_SAVE,” “settings.ini.old” or “settings.ini1.” All of these will come up when doing a filename search for “settings.ini.” Other possibilities are that you will find a copy of the configuration file in a “\backup” directory, a “\temp” folder or the recycle bin.
  • Right-click and choose “Copy” if you have found your configuration file.
  • Click your “Start” button again and choose “Run.” Type the name of the path from the error in Step 1. For example, if the error is “Can’t find configuration file C:\Program Files\XYZ\misc\asdf.config,” you would type “C:\Program Files\XYZ\misc” in the “Run” dialogue. This will bring up a Windows Explorer window in that location.
  • Right-click in the Windows Explorer window and choose “Paste” to copy the file into the correct location. If necessary, rename the file to match the error from Step 1. (For example, rename from “config.ini.save” to “config.ini”.)
  • Try to launch the software again. If you continue to encounter problems, try rebooting your machine to refresh the memory cache.

 

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