Yesterday I restarted my laptop because my Wi-Fi catcher wasn't working correctly, and when the computer reached the login screen, instead of showing my user account it said "Cannot find the file specified". I rebooted and ran the Startup Repair and Memory Diagnostics but nothing showed up. I also took the battery out for a minute and tried again but still no luck. The weird thing is that I cannot even boot into safe mode, it still shows the same error.

I don't remember downloading or opening anything suspicious recently, and I have 3 different cleaners/anti-malware programs as well that I usually run about once a week. I did go into the registry recently but I didn't modify or delete anything as I was only checking to see if I had a certain key in it.

I have a Dell laptop running Vista Home Basic SP2.

If I have to I can reinstall the OS with the CD or even take it to Best Buy but I'd rather try and fix it first.


  • What does it show after the error message. I mean does it hang or ask you to restart or lets to login to a different user account? – agirish Oct 24 '12 at 20:58
  • @AbhishekGirish No it's just button that says ok. When you click it or hit enter it basically blacks out for a second and then comes back. I'm assuming it's checking again for an account. – Redmastif Oct 24 '12 at 21:21
  • You can try inserting the Windows setup CD and restoring the state of your computer to an earlier date. – agirish Oct 24 '12 at 21:36
  • @AbhishekGirish That's my problem, I don't create a lot of restore points except when Vista does it automatically for a Service Pack update, and the last time that happened was right after I reinstalled the OS about a year ago. – Redmastif Oct 24 '12 at 21:40
  • Windows does create restore points at other times, such as before installing updates or apps. Did you find no restore points listed or did you assume there wouldn't be any? – agirish Oct 24 '12 at 21:48

If anyone has this problem in the future, I finally solved it by using old Microsoft XP knowledge.

Do a hard shutdown of your pc/laptop and then hold F8 while the computer is in the pre-loading process. A screen will come up with quite a few boot options; simply select boot last known good configuration.

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