Dude, where did my ODBC System DSN go?!

When creating ODBC DSN’s, sometimes it all seems to go well.

You open the ODBC Data Source Administrator.

You enter the connection details for a new User DSN, test the connection and all is well.


BTW: instead of going: Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Data Sources (ODBC), just hit the WindowsKey+R,

this opens the Run dialog, then just type “odbcad32” (no quotes) and hit enter. A little bit quicker.


Now you think that rather than having to create a new User DSN for each user that may use the machine,

why not create a System DSN that can be used by everyone. And off you go.

You open the ODBC Data Source Administrator.

You enter the connection details for a new System DSN, test the connection, click OK, but all is NOT well. 

When you check the System Data Sources, it is not there, even though all went fine. What is going on!?


You check the registry for the machine (System) ODBC settings, found at:


but your newly create DSN is not there.


You then try to create a User DSN, this works fine and it shows registry for the user ODBC settings, found at:


and you’ll see your newly created DSN.


So obviously there is something strange about the System DSN you think, but no.


The most simple and likely reason for this is that you are not logged on to the machine as an Administrator.

And as a non-administrator, you are not allowed to create System DSN’s.


Agreed, if you are creating a System DSN when not being an administrator, there perhaps should be a notification about this not being allowed.

But for now, there isn’t, so either logon as an Administrator or ask one to do this.



Comments (1)

  1. Travis says:

    I got a good laugh off of this.  It explained why I spent five hours beating my head against the wall today.

Skip to main content