Troubleshooting the SharePoint “File not found” Error

Have you ever come across a “File Not Found” error when accessing some part of your WSS 3.0MOSS 2007, or SharePoint 2010 portal? So have I. There are some modifications that the farm administrator can make to the web application’s web.config file to show more information about the error.

I’ll break it down into an easy-to-follow guide that should give you a starting point to troubleshoot the error.

Follow these steps:

  1. Navigate Here:
    C:\inetpub\wwroot\wss\Virtual Directories\<your web app's virtual directory>

    1. You can also open IIS
    2. Expand Sites
    3. Right click on your SharePoint site
    4. Choose explore
    5. proceed to step 2
  2. Copy and paste the web.config file (making a backup)
  3. Open web.config using notepad
  4. Search for “CallStack” , set this equal to true
  5. Search for “Custom”, set the customerrors = “Off”
  6. Search for “Debug”, set Debug = “True”
  7. Save the web.config file and refresh your page in the browser

You should now see what the error actually is.

Many times it is a web part assembly reference missing from the web.config or something similar.

This should at least give you a more precise troubleshooting starting point. Remember to turn CustomErrors back “On” in the web.config after fixing the issue so that your end users won’t see an ugly Asp.Net error if this happens again.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned to the blog for more SharePoint tips and tricks!

2009-04-13T10:48:08+00:00 April 13th, 2009|


  1. danang February 21, 2012 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    i have the same issue,i am trying to find the folder web.config, but it was not found. what should i do?

    i appreciate your help

  2. venkat March 5, 2012 at 5:11 am - Reply

    When i open sharepoint site in mac os it will display error message rather than i can display the warning to do that..

  3. Andy Milsark March 5, 2012 at 6:26 am - Reply

    @Charles Anderson
    No problem. Thanks for reading.

  4. Andy Milsark March 5, 2012 at 6:27 am - Reply

    If SharePoint is functional the web.config must exist. Check C:inetpubwwwrootVirtualDirectories80

  5. Andy Milsark March 5, 2012 at 6:28 am - Reply

    If you want SharePoint to display the custom generic errors again. You will need to set CustomErrors=”On” in the SharePoint web.config.

  6. Andy Milsark March 5, 2012 at 6:29 am - Reply

    My pleasure. Thanks for reading.

  7. Augustus March 25, 2012 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    Thank you do much for that awesome tip! An error crashed the entire site and we were stuck as the original error message was “file not found” thank you so much again!!

  8. Tom March 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Found my issue to be an “Import” reference – System.Diagnostics.EventLog – that it didn’t like. Removed that and worked fine.

  9. Cody May 28, 2009 at 5:07 am - Reply

    Thanks man!! you saved my day..

  10. Frank June 3, 2009 at 6:48 am - Reply

    Sorry. I get “File not found” and “Unable to connect to database. Check database connection information and make sure the database server is running. ”

    My lack of expertise, I could not find even the basic first step — C:inetpubwwrootwssVirtual Directories

    Still lost in errors and non-responsive servers.

  11. Andy M G June 14, 2009 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Hi Frank,

    Chances are that your SQL windows service is not started. There were a number of SQL security updates which went out recently as windows updates. Some of these failed to restart the SQL Service. Whenever you see this it is most likely that the SQL service on the server that runs your config and/or content database is stopped. Just start the service mssql.exe in your services.msc snap in and try to browse to the Sharepoint site again.

  12. Tahir June 18, 2009 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    Its 2:05 AM and everything is almost ready on the server for the demo suddenly we came across this stupid error “File Not Found”.

    Thank you so much for posting this debugging technique. It truly saved our demo.

  13. Rajendrakumar July 10, 2009 at 2:41 pm - Reply


    I’ve got a ‘File not found’ error. I can try the suggestion on the above on the live server but perhaps you know the problem with my scenario anyway;

    We have WSS 3.0 running on Windows 2003 Server with Forms-Based Authentication. It has been running for months but now if I now try selecting ‘Register’ or ‘Forgot password’ I now get a ‘File not found’ error (looking for https://www… and https://www… respectively)

    I believe that it is related to the .NET 3.5 Family service pack as I’ve been able to ‘break’ and old image of the server before it was patched. Patching it with the .NET 3.5 service pack gets the ‘File not found’ result that we’re now experiencing.

    I HAVE tried rolling back the service pack for .NET but it does not resolve the problem. Taking off too many service packs related to .NET breaks the website completely and putting them back on again does not recover it either.

    Any help GREATlY appreciated :o)

  14. Andy M July 24, 2009 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    One major work around that is required after the .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 is installed for search and local site browsing on the server is the DisableLoopbackCheck registry key. Google sharepoint DisableLoopbackCheck. Also are those aspx files stored on the file system or in the Content DB? If on the file system, make sure they are still there.

  15. Daniel November 23, 2009 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    I ran into this issue after connecting to our SharePoint site using SharePoint Designer 2007. It first created a few folders that needed to be deleted in order for the site to even work. Then I noticed this error “File Not Found.” and after following the steps above it just worked. Not sure exactly why, but changing the web.config file must cause the assemblies to refresh and it just worked. Thanks for the info!

  16. Search file December 18, 2009 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Great post i liked it!

  17. Wildchild March 5, 2010 at 5:39 am - Reply

    Thank you, helped me lots!

  18. marmonto March 10, 2010 at 5:07 am - Reply

    Thanks for time and I would like to ask you something.
    I got ProjectServer 2007 and when users try to upload a file, occurs the same that you described…but when we refresh the page, the file appears there in library project. I follow the steps that you say and the error was very clear, it is trying to connect to a “OLD” server. Our intranet server fails and I had to restore the SharePoint and Project Server Databases in a new installed server. can you help me with this, or some idea.

    I need to edit everithyng in SharePoint/Project Server from “OLD” to “NEW” server URL.

    Note: this only occurs on Project Server, not in SharePoint.

    Thanks a lot for any help.
    (sorry my English)

  19. Eddie March 30, 2010 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Hello everyone. I have a problem with WSS 3.0 I just selected Negotiate (Kerberos) from (Central Administration > Application Management > Authentication Providers > Edit Authentication). But now I’ve just got error message. When I enter to site it shows white screen and.


    File Not Found
    Troubleshoot issues with Windows SharePoint Services.

    Above message received. What is this? Please help. me What should I do now?

  20. Graig Furner June 14, 2010 at 2:11 am - Reply

    Fantastic blog post, I will save this post in my account. Have a great evening.

  21. praveen July 22, 2010 at 5:43 am - Reply

    i have the same issue, i am trying to restore a database of a sharepoint site from other server,but while browsing it gives me error “file not fount”. when checked in detail i the error was “The system cannot find the path specified. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80070003) ”

    can anyone help me to resolve this

  22. Asim masood July 29, 2010 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Nice post, saved my hours…

  23. V Kalaravi August 11, 2010 at 5:26 am - Reply

    This helped me alot…thanks

  24. Prashanth August 19, 2010 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Thanks a lot .

    Saved lot of time. i was really clueless bout what to do.

    Thanks again

  25. Frans September 9, 2010 at 6:36 am - Reply

    This saves me a lot of time.
    Thank you

  26. Dinesh September 22, 2010 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Thank you

  27. Dinesh September 22, 2010 at 1:50 am - Reply
  28. troy January 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    I encountered this error when I was moving sites between site collections using the stsadm export import method. I found that the page was referring to an invalid master page and was able to change in it site settings. Site Actions > Site Settings > Master Page… if you see any red text at the top of the page, change your master page associations till it goes away.

  29. Sanjay February 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    I had to do debug=true as well, Thanks, cool stuff.

  30. Nishigandha April 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm - Reply


    I solved my problem..


  31. Charles Anderson November 25, 2011 at 8:30 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. It worked like a charm.

  32. paul crompton July 26, 2012 at 6:26 am - Reply

    I have used this article today and just wanted to say it has still proved useful today on a rebuild of a server that we lost due to disk failures. Thank you

  33. Matt August 31, 2012 at 3:06 am - Reply

    Big help, thank you!!

  34. Sneha September 4, 2012 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    Thanks…it I hv to solve the error..

  35. Georgia September 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Thank you for any other informative website. Where else may I get that type of information written in
    such a perfect method? I’ve a project that I am simply now operating on, and I have been on the look out for such information.

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  37. adam December 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    I tried all suggested solutions. But I am still unable to resolve this error. Is this error also occurs when content database get corrupted?

  38. Feri February 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    thanks a lot. it worked for me.

  39. Kariem March 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    you are just, AWESOMEEEEE:)

  40. Asif June 26, 2013 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great..
    I need small help here.I need to display a custom error page for ‘file not found’.. for that i tried customErrors=”on” and defaultRedirect=”myurl”..but its not working for deleted documents(generally we send document links to users, so they access the links directly).. what more i need to add in web.config to give custom error page for all kind of pages(documents, .aspx)

  41. Jacki March 1, 2014 at 10:29 am - Reply

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when
    new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time
    a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment.
    There has to be a way you can remove me from that service?

  42. al May 27, 2015 at 7:43 am - Reply

    Thanks a lot!

  43. neelam mourya June 10, 2015 at 9:52 am - Reply

    I am also facing file not found error while activating a feature in my SharePoint site.I tried your above mentioned steps but it didn’t work for me.
    Please share any other solution regarding this error. Waiting for your valuable reply.

    Thanks & Regards,

  44. Ernie J July 21, 2016 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Here’s my situation. I copied the production content databases to our development site. I can see all of the site collections. Only a couple of site collections work. The other site collection render the message “file cannot be found”. Also, when I’m in the _layouts/15/settings.aspx, I can see all my headings, user and permissions, etc. A few links take me to what I’m looking for. The majority of the link I click on, say Navigation, I get the file cannot be found. Well at least I did before I changed the web config file. Thanks, any help would be appreciated.

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