Troubleshoot ‘Windows Process Activation Service’ failed to start

I was setting up a IIS test environment for testing the mobile redirection this afternoon. That’s a test box which may serve for other purpose as well. For some reason, the WAS service (Windows Process Activation Service) just refused to start with the message ‘Error 3: The system cannot find the path specified’.


I am not a web admin, so IIS is a bit unfamiliar to me. Thanks to Process Monitor, I started the capture and added a filter rule for the command line ‘C:\Windows\system32\svchost.exe -k iissvcs’ (this is how Windows starts the WAS service). I found something useful:


Based on above, I guess someone might remove the C:\inetpub\temp\apppools folder. I manually created that folder then tried to start the service again. Nice and easy, it works this time!


13 thoughts on “Troubleshoot ‘Windows Process Activation Service’ failed to start

  1. thankkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

  2. I started getting the ‘Error 2: the system cannot find the file specified’ error after a recent windows update. Even after uninstalling and reinstalling all the IIS and windows process activation service (WAS) windows components, I still received this error when attempting to manually start the WAS from Services.

    After using Process Monitor to try to find out why the WAS wouldn’t start, I found an error message that seemed to indicate that a file was required by the WAS:
    (Process Monitor showed multiple NAME NOT FOUND errors when attempting to start the WAS)

    I made a copy of C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\Config\applicationHost.config and renamed it applicationHost.config.tmp in the same directory, and then WAS started! From there, I could start IIS fine and my issue was resolved.

    1. OMG!! i searched thousand pages, but only your asnwer was right for me!!! Thanks a lot !! you saved my life! jihoon from korea

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