View Full Version : Vista: Can't run anything as administrator - "file not found"

11-03-2010, 07:17 PM
A couple of days ago I rebooted my PC after using hibernate for about 2 weeks

Upon restart, I noticed the sound icon had a red cross through it (sound still works though)

If I open "playback devices" or whatever, the items are there but have no icons (see attached image)

I tried to open device manager to see if there was a driver problem and I got this error:

[Window Title]

Windows cannot find '%SystemRoot%\\system32\\devmgmt.msc'. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.


I gave up and used Ubuntu for a while (dual boot) but now I'm on Vista again and I notice a strange thing.

If I run, for example, cmd.exe with my standard user account, it works fine.

If I try to run it as Administrator, I get this:

[Window Title]

Windows cannot find 'C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe'. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.


So for some reason, everything that needs to run (or tries to run) as Administrator, can't be found (even though the file is there and there is nothing wrong with it!)

Has anyone seen anything like this before?

11-03-2010, 07:26 PM
Try System Restore?

11-03-2010, 07:27 PM
I can't run System Restore, for the reason above.

[Window Title]

Windows cannot find 'C:\Windows\System32\rstrui.exe'. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.


Speedy Gonzales
11-03-2010, 08:46 PM
Corrupt profile maybe?

11-03-2010, 08:55 PM
Yeah, possibly a corrupt profile.

Run system restore from Windows Recovery PE(Vista Recovery Disc, or if you have it installed already on the partition...)

Might want to have a look at eventvwr too, from the working user account(or make another Admin account)


11-03-2010, 09:52 PM
Which profile though?

Mine or Administrator?

I can't make a new account through Control Panel either, or run Event Viewer, of course.

11-03-2010, 10:01 PM
Its possible the admin security settings have turned turtle - you can try running This here (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;313222) and see if it fixes it.

Can you log into the real admin account, ( not the usual user account) if its not showing you may have to unhide it the long way As described here (http://www.mydigitallife.info/2007/08/10/enable-and-unhide-administrator-account-with-vista-local-security-policy-setting/) - Because the other way you need to use cmd, but "run as administrator" - which you cant do.

11-03-2010, 10:10 PM
Sadly that doesn't work either, with Microsoft's fix-it installer I get this:

[Window Title]
Windows Installer

[Main Instruction]
The system administrator has set policies to prevent this installation.


Following their commands manually is impossible too, I run into a brick wall at:

In Windows Vista
Click Start and then type cmd in the Start Search box.
In the results area, right-click cmd.exe, and then click Run as administrator.

I'll try System Restore from the DVD...

Speedy Gonzales
11-03-2010, 10:16 PM
What if you run the fixit file?

11-03-2010, 10:22 PM
What if you run the fixit file?

I just said that didn't work in my previous post...

Never mind, I just did a System Restore using the DVD and everything seems back to normal.

I still would have liked to know what caused this problem, to avoid it happening again...

Speedy Gonzales
11-03-2010, 10:23 PM
Oops :D

11-03-2010, 10:32 PM
:lol: But while I was using Ubuntu my activation ran out and I can't rearm... :(

Oh well, I'll be reinstalling when I get my new video card and going back to XP anyway

Speedy Gonzales
11-03-2010, 10:36 PM
So, it wasnt activated?? It probably got tired waiting and locked you out instead :lol:

11-03-2010, 10:46 PM
As funny as that sounds it may actually be the truth ;)

If the trials run out, then certain functions get disabled, and the admin functions may very well be one of them to stop "rearming" / Bypassing system activation--- only a guess, but sounds possible :lol:

11-03-2010, 11:03 PM
It still had a few days remaining when the problem started happening though, I don't think it's related.

Also, this is what's supposed to happen (I have SP2):

With SP1 onwards: After 30 days without successful activation or immediately after a failed activation, Windows Vista will add a text message stating that the copy of Windows in question is not valid, reset the desktop background to black every hour and give periodic notifications to activate the operating system

What I didn't know is that you must rearm before the 30 days runs out if you want to get more time...

12-03-2010, 08:02 AM
What I didn't know is that you must rearm before the 30 days runs out if you want to get more time You can ONLY rearm three times, then it doesn't work after that.

So you have the original Install as a trial - 30 days, rearm - another 30 days, rearm - another 30 days,rearm - another 30 days END. Either complete reinstall, or enter a legit Key.

Miss the rearm time, even by one day and its locked out.

12-03-2010, 09:48 AM
Yeah I know you can only do it 3 times but didn't know it had to be before the timer ran out.

Maybe I will install Win 7 and trial that for a couple of weeks while I wait to see what nVidia is doing...

I'm hoping they will either bring out some awesome cards, or the price of the Radeons will drop ;)