What Would Happen if I Deleted System32?

By Tommy Charles

If you were to delete your system32 folder, several Windows services would fail, and the operating system itself would become unstable. By learning more about system32 and the role it plays in the Windows operating system, you can gain a better understanding of why it is necessary.

System32

System32 is a directory that contains the core drivers and files of Windows. You can locate it by clicking "Start," "Computer," "C:," Windows," and then "System32." System32 contains several dynamic link library files, or DLLs. These DLLs drive functions such as mouse pointer control, interpreting keyboard key strokes, managing USB ports and managing the Windows interface. System32 also contains important files required for a successful boot into Windows. When you start your computer, the program responsible for the boot process, BIOS, looks for and launches these files.

System32 Contents

System32 contains DLLs, drivers and stand-alone applications. A driver is a program that facilitates communications between a piece of hardware, such as a network card, and the operating system. Your computer contains dozens of drivers in the System32 folder, and you need every one of them to use your computer correctly. Stand-alone programs that you can find in your system32 folder include "ipconfig.exe," "cmd.exe" and "ping.exe." Cmd.exe is the command line shell that you can use to enter text commands into your computer. Ipconfig.exe and ping.exe are applications that you can use to configure and test your Internet connection.

Deleting System32

If you attempt to delete system32 from Windows Explorer, you will most likely receive an error message from Windows stating that you do not have the required permissions. Other methods for deleting the folder exist, such as creating a .bat file with Notepad that essentially forces Windows to delete it. However, such methods are typically pushed on unsuspecting computer users who are unaware of the devastating effect these methods can have on their computers.

Effects of Deleting System32

If you delete system32, your computer will either crash abruptly, or it will work very sluggishly until your next reboot. Which situation occurs depends on your version of Windows. In either case, you will not be able to boot into Windows again. Without system32, Windows is not able to function. To restore functionality, you would have to use system repair with the Windows installation CD. This process would reinstall system32 to its proper place in the "Windows" folder.