Windows Err Msg: Cannot Find a Device File that May Be... (90750)

The information in this article applies to:
    Microsoft Windows 3.0
    Microsoft Windows 3.0a
    Microsoft Windows 3.1
    Microsoft Windows 3.11
    Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 6.2
    Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 6.21

This article was previously published under Q90750


The following error message may be displayed when you attempt to start Windows in enhanced mode:

Cannot find a device file that may be needed to run Windows in 386 Enhanced Mode.
In Windows 3.0 and 3.0a, the message is followed by a "run Setup again" message. In Windows 3.1, the message is followed by a "You need to run the Setup program again" message, and may specify the device filename.


The above error indicates that an entry specified in the [386Enh] section of the SYSTEM.INI file is invalid or cannot be located.

There are two different types of device files that can be specified in the [386Enh] section on a DEVICE= line: internal and external. Internal device drivers are specified by an asterisk (*) before the device name, and are internal to the core Windows files (namely WIN386.EXE). External device drivers are usually specified by a .386 extension, and are located in the Windows SYSTEM subdirectory or in the path specified on the DEVICE= line. External virtual device drivers can be provided by Windows or by third- party products.


In general, reinstalling Windows is the best solution. This ensures the proper location of device drivers internally and externally provided by Windows. If a third-party device driver is causing the error, you need to reinstall the third-party program as well or rename SYSTEM.INI before reinstalling Windows so that the third-party product's changes are preserved.


The following are specific problems and their solutions.


In some cases, you will get this error message due to the following line in the [386Enh] section of the SYSTEM.INI file:
To correct this problem, remove the "x:" from this line.

The "x:" is used in the SETUP.INF file to refer to the disk containing the file WIN386.EXE. In some cases, this "x:" gets copied to the SYSTEM.INI during installation and is never removed.

Windows 3.0 Files in a Windows 3.1 Installation

If the device driver causing the error is one or more of the following:


the error possibly indicates that Windows 3.1 has found core Windows 3.0 or 3.0a files in the WINDOWS or WINDOWS\SYSTEM subdirectory. Remove any core Windows 3.0 or 3.0a files (specifically, WIN386.EXE) from these directories, and replace them by expanding the appropriate 3.1 files.

PC Tools Version 7.0

During PC Tools installation, version 7.0 of Central Point Software's PC Tools modifies the SYSTEM.INI file. It changes two DEVICE= statements in the [386Enh] section.

After PC Tools installs, two device statements are changed from
There are two ways to correct this problem:
    Manually modify these two device statements in the [386Enh] section of SYSTEM.INI to read as follows:
    Copy VDMAD.386 and VFD.386 from the PC Tools 7.0 disk to the Windows \SYSTEM subdirectory.
NOTE: A similar problem affecting only the VFD line occurs in version 8.0 of PC Tools. Use the same workaround to correct the problem.


If you installed the Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) for version 3.0 or 3.1, you may receive this error as well. It indicates that Windows is unable to find the WINDEBUG.386 device driver because it is not in the path. This device is added by SDK Setup and is referenced by the DEVICE=WINDEBUG.386 line in the [386Enh] section of SYSTEM.INI.

To resolve this problem, use a text editor such as Notepad to edit your AUTOEXEC.BAT file and add the SDK directory to the MS-DOS PATH. The default SDK directory is WINDEV.

PCTools is manufactured by Central Point Software, a vendor independent of Microsoft; we make no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding this product's performance or reliability.

SMARTDrive /X Switch

This error message may appear if you use the SMARTDrive /X switch (which ships with Microsoft MS-DOS version 6.2).

Deleting the /X switch resolves the problem.

Modification Type: Major Last Reviewed: 11/26/2003
Keywords: KB90750