SQL Server does not start | FCB::Open: Operating system error 3(The system cannot find the path specified.)

Recently one of the members of SQL community was having difficulty in starting the SQL Server instance. The service would not start and the following error message was logged in the System Event Log.

The SQL Server (SQL2005) service terminated with
service-specific error 3417 (0xD59).

This error does not give much information regarding the failure. The SQL Server Error Log had the following information.

Authentication mode is MIXED.
Logging SQL messages in file 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\LOG\ERRORLOG'.
This instance of SQL last reported using a process ID of 2548 at
This is an informational message only; no user action is required.
Registry startup parameters:
	 -d C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\DATA\master.mdf
	 -e C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\LOG\ERRORLOG
	 -e C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\LOG\ERRORLOG
SQL is starting at normal priority base (=7). This is an informational message only. No user action is required.
Detected 1 CPUs. This is an informational message; no user action is required.
Using dynamic lock allocation.  Initial allocation of 2500 Lock blocks and 5000 Lock Owner blocks per node.
This is an informational message only.  No user action is required.
Attempting to initialize Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MS DTC).
This is an informational message only. No user action is required.
Attempting to recover in-doubt distributed transactions involving Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MS DTC).
This is an informational message only. No user action is required.
Database mirroring has been enabled on this instance of SQL.
Starting up database 'master'.
Error: 17207, Severity: 16, State: 1.
FCB::Open: Operating system error 3(The system cannot find the path specified.) occurred while creating or opening file ''.
Diagnose and correct the operating system error, and retry the operation.
Error: 17204, Severity: 16, State: 1.
FCB::Open failed: Could not open file  for file number 2.  OS error: 3(The system cannot find the path specified.).
Error: 5120, Severity: 16, State: 101.
Unable to open the physical file "". Operating system error 3: "3(The system cannot find the path specified.)".

I started looking at the error message from the bottom. SQL Server was failing while bringing up the master database. The last four lines in the Error Log were the key to resolving this issue.

Error: 17204, Severity: 16, State: 1.
FCB::Open failed: Could not open file  for file number 2.
OS error: 3(The system cannot find the path specified.).
Error: 5120, Severity: 16, State: 101.
Unable to open the physical file "". Operating system error 3: "3(The system cannot find the path specified.)".

SQL Server was unable to open the File number 2 of master database. As we know master database has 2 files i.e. one data file and one transaction log file. File number 2 refers to the Transaction Log file. The last line reads Unable to open the physical file “”. SQL Server was unable to open the Transaction Log file since it was blank. Why the master database transaction log path is empty? These lines in the Error Log explains it all.

The Error log path is mentioned twice and there is no entry for the master database transaction log which starts with -l.

-lC:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\DATA\mastlog.ldf

Most likely while changing the Error Log path the transaction log entry got overwritten. Removing the extra Error Log path (-e) entry and replacing it with the Master Transaction Log path (-l) in SQL Server Configuration Manager fixed this issue.

2 thoughts on “SQL Server does not start | FCB::Open: Operating system error 3(The system cannot find the path specified.)

  1. javier torres villegas

    I need your help, because my sql server could not start I can not see any information on the screen because it does nos start. what can I do? please help me!

    Reply
  2. Matt Peeler

    The resolution on my server was similar. I had all three switches (-d, -e, -l), however, after the log file path was several lines worth of space characters. (Ie, -lC:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\DATA\mastlog.ldf )

    I noticed this in my error, like:

    Unable to open the physical file “C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\DATA\mastlog.ldf “. Operating system error 3: “3(The system cannot find the path specified.)”.

    The Startup Parameters field always shows the same amount of white space even if there are actually trailing spaces so it is tough to notice in Configuration Manager.

    Reply

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