Solving "the ORA-12162 TNS Error: Understanding and Fixing Incorrectly Specified Net Service Names"

The ORA-12162 TNS error is a common issue that developers and database administrators may encounter when working with Oracle databases. In this guide, we will explore the root cause of the ORA-12162 error, and provide a step-by-step solution to help you fix it. We'll also cover some frequently asked questions related to this error.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding the ORA-12162 TNS Error
  2. Step-by-Step Solution to Fix the ORA-12162 Error
  3. FAQ
  4. Related Links

Understanding the ORA-12162 TNS Error

The ORA-12162 error is typically caused by an incorrectly specified net service name or alias. This error may occur if the database client tools cannot locate the service name specified in the tnsnames.ora file, or if the file is not properly configured. The tnsnames.ora file is a critical component in Oracle database connectivity, as it contains the network service names mapped to the connect descriptors that define the network route to the database service.

The error message associated with the ORA-12162 error is:

ORA-12162: TNS:net service name is incorrectly specified

Step-by-Step Solution to Fix the ORA-12162 Error

Step 1: Locate the tnsnames.ora file

The tnsnames.ora file is usually found in the following directory:


If you cannot find the file in the default location, you can use the TNS_ADMIN environment variable to specify a custom location.

Step 2: Verify the service name

Ensure the service name specified in your connection string matches an entry in the tnsnames.ora file. If there is no matching entry, you need to add one. The format of a service name entry is as follows:


Replace hostname, port, service_name, and server_type with the appropriate values for your database.

Step 3: Check the SQLNET.ORA file

The sqlnet.ora file contains client-side configuration settings, and should be located in the same directory as the tnsnames.ora file. Ensure the NAMES.DIRECTORY_PATH parameter includes the TNSNAMES value, as shown below:


Step 4: Test the connection

After making any necessary changes to the tnsnames.ora or sqlnet.ora files, test your connection using the tnsping utility. This utility is included with the Oracle client tools and can be used to verify the service name and network connectivity.


Replace SERVICE_NAME with the appropriate service name from your tnsnames.ora file.

If the connection is successful, the ORA-12162 error should be resolved.


Q1: Can I have multiple TNSNAMES.ORA files?

Yes, you can have multiple tnsnames.ora files. However, you need to set the TNS_ADMIN environment variable to point to the directory containing the desired file.

Q2: How do I find the correct ORACLE_HOME?

You can find the correct ORACLE_HOME by executing the following command:


If the variable is not set, consult your system administrator or Oracle documentation to determine the correct value.

Q3: What is the EZCONNECT method?

The EZCONNECT method allows you to connect to an Oracle database without using a tnsnames.ora file. Instead, you can specify the connection details directly in the connection string. However, this method may not be suitable for all environments, and the use of a tnsnames.ora file is recommended for better manageability and security.

Q4: Can I use LDAP instead of TNSNAMES?

Yes, you can use LDAP to resolve service names if your environment supports it. To do so, update the NAMES.DIRECTORY_PATH parameter in the sqlnet.ora file to include the LDAP value:


Q5: Can I test the connection without using tnsping?

Yes, you can test the connection using SQL*Plus, a command-line utility included with the Oracle client tools. Execute the following command, substituting SERVICE_NAME, USERNAME, and PASSWORD with the appropriate values:


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