“System Cannot Find Specified Path”

“System Cannot Find Specified Path” when trying to start a SQL Server instance after copying the instance from one machine to another

My Scenario

1) Took a snap shot of our production database server using NTBackup
2) Converted the image to run on a virtual server
3) Booted the server with a new server name and tried to start up the SQL Server Instance

At this point, I ran into a critical error:

“Error 3: the system cannot find the specified path.”

The Problem

After some investigation, I noticed that the paths for the MSSQL$Instance and SQLAgent$Instance Windows Services had the old (8.3) format.

i.e C:\PROGRA~1\MICROS~4\MSSQL\binn\sqlservr.exe”

The Solution

I located the file path for both of these services in the registry and changed them to their fully qualified path.

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL$Instance\Binn\ sqlservr.exe

I rebooted the machine and started both services up with no problems.

This is one of those problems where you could spend hours trying to find out what the error means where in-fact such a simple solution is all that it takes!