I have an application that opens a file, the path of which is set to what looks like a UNC path, but with the double slash and hostname removed i.e. instead of


it has


This refers to the share SHARED on the local machine.

This all worked fine, until I switched the application to run as a Windows service. Now the application cannot open the file.

The service is running as a domain account which has full control of the share.

I would like to understand the meaning of this path format, why a Windows service can't access a file referred to with it but a console application can, and how to make this work without changing the path (if possible).


It's not an UNC path anymore. It's a regular local path that starts at the root (\) of the same drive as the current working directory of the process.

That is, if the cwd is c:\windows, the path \users\anthony would refer to c:\users\anthony.

  • 1
    OK, Windows services run in %WinDir%\System32 so \SHARED\FILE is referring to C:\SHARED\FILE but SHARED is actually on the `D:` drive. Thank you. – Anthony Apr 22 '15 at 5:23

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