How Do I Replace DLL Files?

By Christian Garcia

DLL, also known as a Dynamic Link Library file, is a Microsoft implementation of a shared library concept. This simply means that DLL files are stored in a central area on a computer, where they can be accessed and used by a varying amount of different programs, in effect \"checking them out\" like a real library. DLL's can carry code, data or resources that programs use to execute. Certain problems can be encountered by the DLL file structure, colloquially called by the more \"tech-savvy\" as DLL Hell. You may have encountered this if you have ever seen the error \"X program cannot run because Y DLL is missing,\" or some other variation of a DLL error. This error means that the DLL the program is trying to access is either missing or corrupt. Here, we will guide you on how to find a replacement DLL and how to install it.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • File or program you are trying to run
  • Internet connection
  • Zip Extractor Program such as WinRar
  • Pen
  • Paper

Step 1

Locate and double-click the file you are trying to run. The DLL error should now appear, usually saying \"This application has failed to start because X.dll is missing\" or some variation, where X is the name of the DLL. Write down the name of the DLL file that is being asked for, such as \"shell32.dll.\"

Step 2

Press \"Ok\" to remove the error message and open your internet browser. Use a search engine such as Google to find a download site for the DLL file you have written down, or go to (see Resources) and enter your file in the search box. Follow the steps to download the file, which will be in a .zip format. You will need a Zip extractor file to open this file, such as WinRar which is a free program to use.

Step 3

Locate the downloaded .zip file and right-click on it. On the menu, click \"Extract.\" Extract the file onto your Desktop. You may delete the downloaded .zip file now to avoid confusion between the extracted .dll file and the .zip file.

Step 4

Double-click the \"My Computer\" icon on your Desktop or on your Start menu. Navigate to the Hard Drive where your Operating System is installed, usually the C drive. Double Click the Windows folder, and then the system32 folder. The address you should find yourself in is \"C:\\WINDOWS\\system32.\"

Step 5

Drag the DLL file from your desktop into the system32 folder. This folder is where all .dll's are usually located, making this your systems \"library.\" Once done, restart your computer, then execute your program again.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may run Windows Update before following these steps, as .dll files can be downloaded and installed automatically by the service.
  • If you choose not to delete the downloaded .zip file, you may keep it in an appropriately labeled folder in case the DLL goes missing again.
  • It is advisable to run a virus or anti-spyware scan on your computer after replacing your .dll file since these malicious programs can delete or corrupt them.