FileNotFoundException in Java

In this blog post, we will learn what is FileNotFoundException, how it occurs, practical examples, potential solutions, and best practices.

Understanding FileNotFoundException 

The FileNotFoundException is a checked exception that indicates that a file with the specified pathname does not exist. Alternatively, in some scenarios, it can mean the application does not have adequate permissions to access the file. 

As FileNotFoundException is a checked exception in Java so you're required to handle it, either by catching it or declaring it in the method signature using the throws keyword.

FileNotFoundException Class Diagram

Why Does It Occur? 

File Doesn’t Exist: The most obvious reason. If you're trying to read a file that doesn't exist, you'll get this exception. 

No Read/Write Permissions: Even if the file exists, if your program doesn’t have appropriate permissions to read or write to the file, this exception will be thrown. 

Directory Instead of File: If you're trying to use a directory as if it was a regular file, you'll encounter this exception. 

Other I/O Issues: Issues such as a broken symbolic link can also lead to this exception.

Practical Example 

Let's demonstrate this exception through a simple Java program:


public class FileNotFoundExceptionExample {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        try {
            FileReader reader = new FileReader("non_existent_file.txt");
            int character;

            while ((character = != -1) {
                System.out.print((char) character);

        } catch (IOException e) {
Output: non_existent_file.txt (The system cannot find the file specified)
	at java.base/ Method)
	at java.base/
	at java.base/<init>(
	at java.base/<init>(
	at java.base/<init>(

How to Handle FileNotFoundException? 

Check File Path: Ensure the pathname provided is accurate. Relative paths can be tricky; always verify them. 

File Existence Check: Before performing any file operation, check if the file exists using the File.exists() method. 

Manage Permissions: If your application runs in an environment with restricted permissions, make sure it has the right to access the file or directory. 

Graceful Degradation: If your application can still function without the file, consider providing a fallback mechanism rather than terminating the operation. 

Clear User Messages: If a user input can cause this exception, ensure the error messages are user-friendly and guide them to resolve the issue. 

Best Practices 

When dealing with file paths, always prefer using libraries like java.nio.file.Paths or java.nio.file.Path which provides a more intuitive API. 

Regularly log and monitor file-related operations in applications, especially in dynamic environments where files can be moved or deleted. 

If the application heavily relies on external files, consider implementing automated tests to check file availability and permissions.


In this blog post, we have learned what is FileNotFoundException, how it occurs, practical examples, potential solutions, and best practices.