When you try to start the Windows Firewall service in a Windows XP Service Pack 2 computer, the following error may occur:

Could not start the Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) service on Local Computer.

Error 2: The system cannot find the file specified.

Also, the following event may be recorded in the Windows Event Log:

Event Type: Error
Event Source: Service Control Manager
Event Category: None
Event ID: 7023
Date: <date>
Time: <time>
User: N/A
Computer: <Computer name>
The Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) service terminated with the following error:
The system cannot find the file specified.


This problem occurs if one or both of the files ipnathlp.dll or ipnat.sys are missing. To resolve this problem, extract a new copy of the missing file from the Windows XP CD-ROM. Ipnathlp.dll should be present in the %systemroot%\system32 folder, and ipnat.sys should be present in the %systemroot%\system32\drivers folder on the computer's hard disk. To extract the missing files, follow these steps:

  • Insert the Windows XP disk into the CD drive.
  • Click Start, click Run, type cmd in the Open box, and then click OK
  • At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER.

expand X:\i386\ipnathlp.dl_ %systemroot%\system32\ipnathlp.dll

  • Similarly, expand ipnat.sys file to the Drivers folder. Use the following command:

expand X:\i386\ipnat.sy_ %systemroot%\system32\drivers\ipnat.sys


  1. Where X:\ represents the letter of the computer's CD drive. And the %systemroot% environment variable represents the path and folder in which the Windows is installed. For example, if the CD-ROM drive-lettter is E and Windows is installed in C:\Windows, run the following command:

    expand E:\i386\ipnathlp.dl_ C:\Windows\system32\ipnathlp.dll
  2. To close the command prompt, type exit, and then press ENTER. Restart Windows.
  3. Use the %systemroot%\ServicePackFiles\i386 folder as the source path (instead of using the Windows XP CD-ROM as the source), if the following conditions are true:
    • You installed Windows XP SP2 from a Windows XP SP2 CD that included SP2 as part of the base installation.
    • You downloaded and installed Windows XP SP2 from the Microsoft Web site.
    • Note If the ServicePackFiles folder is not present on the computer, you can copy the files from a slipstreamed Windows XP SP2 installation CD.