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Using Windows 7, on just one of my machines, typing in "ipconfig" no longer does anything.

Is there a reason for this?

My speculation is that it has something to do with java SDK installation / changing the system variables.

The command and response:

C:\Users\Paul>ipconfig

'ipconfig' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.

My PATH:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Windows Live;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Windows Live;
C:\Program Files (x86)\NVIDIA Corporation\PhysX\Common;
C:\Program Files (x86)\MiKTeX 2.8\miktex\bin;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live\Shared;
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Windows Live;
C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_22\bin;
c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\100\Tools\Binn\;
c:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\100\Tools\Binn\;
c:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\100\DTS\Binn\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\QuickTime\QTSystem\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\ATI Technologies\ATI.ACE\Core-Static;
C:\Program Files (x86)\MATLAB\R2007b\bin;
C:\Program Files (x86)\MATLAB\R2007b\bin\win32;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Autodesk Shared\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Autodesk\Backburner\;
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Autodesk Shared\
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10  
What is the output of the command when you type it? –  Alexander Miles Sep 13 '11 at 15:53
    
yeah does it just output an empty line or what? and I take it there are adapters set up on that machine.. ;-) –  gordatron Sep 13 '11 at 15:57
1  
Actually, can you post the output of "set path"? –  Alexander Miles Sep 13 '11 at 15:57
    
Ah, it doesn't look to be a path issue then (it would have said the command was not recognized). Can you open device manager and verify that your network adapters are all installed and not malfunctioning? –  Alexander Miles Sep 13 '11 at 15:59
    
As @MetalSearGolid asks, please post the output of "set path". Though I'd imagine if C:\Windows\System32 were missing from the path statement, ipconfig not running would be the least of your worries. –  music2myear Sep 13 '11 at 16:20
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6 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'd imagine if C:\Windows\System32 were missing from the path statement, ipconfig not running would be the least of your worries.

C:\Windows\System32 contains a large number of the executables and dynamic link libraries (DLLs) that allow Windows to function.

An entry in the system Path settings tells the computer to look in that specified location for executables and files that programs are referencing.

While it would seem that a good program would not rely on Path variables but should directly reference the location of any and every file it is dependent on, the Path statement allows multiple similar OSes to coexist on the same drive (Windows XP in the C:\WinXP\ folder, Windows 7 in C:\Win7\, etc, which would result in different and incompatible .\System32\ directories), and allows for more easy and flexible upgrading of framework files (look for the newest version of the .Net libraries in a versioned directory where they are installed rather than a central directory where they may overwrite each other in an undersireable way).

So a program looking to use the functions of Windows XP's built in zip handling would call zipfldr.dll and the OS will return the functions of that executable stored in C:\Windows\System32\zipfldr.dll. If you look through that directory, you should see many files that you'll probably recognize as common scripting commands or functions critical to the OSes operation.

I've never removed the C:\Windows\System32 entry from my path statement and I don't think I ever will (though I suppose testing this in a VM with rollback functionality shouldn't be too hard) and so I cannot say for certain what would happen if it were completely missing.

Suffice it to say, pretty much any batch script would completely not function, and the abilities of your OS would be severely curtailed.

Others have already noted how to add C:\Windows\System32 to the Path statement if it is missing, and so I'll not repeat that here. But I would not be surprised, since this is the only function you've found to be not working, if there were something else wrong here.

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Cheers dude! I have added on the C:\Windows\system32 to the end of PATH as it was infact missing. Thers alot more in this list then when I first started with my pc, and maybe innocent face I had deleted it when installing Java SDK. It is probably the only cmd prompt command i actually use, so suffice to say that is why I only notice this one not functioning. Though, lately my computer has been acting weird! and showing strange colours, on MS programs.. But that is another question! –  Doomsknight Sep 14 '11 at 18:18
    
Well then I can say I've learned something as well. Leaving C:\Windows\System32 out of the Path statement isn't necessarily a precursor to the end of the world. It's annoying, but not life threatening. Glad I could help. –  music2myear Sep 14 '11 at 19:36
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It could indeed be down to system variables.

  • Right click My Computer in Start Menu or on desktop and click Properties
  • Choose Advanced System settings -> Advanced
  • Click the Environment Variables... button
  • Find the system variable called Path and click it
  • Click Edit... button
  • It should be a long string with several paths separated by a semi-colons ;
  • Check it contains C:\Windows\system32 (I'm assuming your system drive is C)
  • If your not sure if it is correct then you might want to copy it and post it here.
  • If you make changes you may need to restart to see any effect

If this doesn't help then open your C:\Windows\system32 directory and ensure it contains IPConfig.exe. If it doesn't then I guess you must be missing system files.

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Hey, thanks. followed your instructions to how to add it back in. Would rate you up, but it wont let me :P –  Doomsknight Sep 14 '11 at 20:15
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Check the Security settings of your Anti-Virus or Firewall. In my office laptop, unless the security level is set to "Off", it simply returns at the command prompt without any output.

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You have to Run the command prompt as an administrator. By default, Windows 7 does not allow the command prompt system access. From the Start menu, right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator. Now you will be able to run all the commands you expect to, like ipconfig.

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1  
No. The user would be asked to elevate if the command existed but did not have sufficient privileges. In the case of the OP, the command prompt can't even find the ipconfig program, let alone ask for elevation. –  DragonLord Oct 22 '12 at 0:07
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Another thing to check, which was the culprit in my case: the PATHEXT environment variable.

I had the user environment variable PATHEXT set to "*.LNK" in an attempt to get shortcut files picked up on the command line without typing the extension, but this was just shadowing the system environment variable PATHEXT=".COM;.EXE;.BAT;.CMD;.VBS;.VBE;.JS;.JSE;.WSF;.WSH;.MSC", not adding to it. Thus, ipconfig.exe wasn't being found. Setting the user-level PATHEXT to the full list of extensions fixed it.

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Try uninstalling and reinstalling your network card driver(s). I'm remembering now that I've seen this a long time ago in XP, and simply reinstalling the driver worked.

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Not having any network adaptors installed would not cause the above error message. –  Steve Feb 1 '13 at 22:56
    
Doesn't change the fact that this fixed it for me. I'm not saying I understand why it worked but it did. –  Alexander Miles Feb 4 '13 at 15:44
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