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7/22/05 What is rundll32.exe, and where did it go?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 21, 2005 7:07 AM PDT

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week topic. Allen, I hope these recommendations from our members will help guide you in the right direction to solve your issue. Like I said in the newsletter if you find a solution to your problem in the thread that I created for you in regards with the rundll32.exe issue in Windows Me, please email me to let me know whose submission solved your issue, so I can reward that person.
If you know the answer to Allen's rundll32.exe issue for Windows Me please post your answer here in this thread below:
Windows Me: Need help with Missing rundll32.exe

We are all here to help as community, so I encourage all of you who have more suggestions, methods, or questions regarding this topic to post below. The more solutions that we share, the more we can all learn from each other as a community.

Thanks again everyone!

-Lee Koo
CNET Community

My question is both simple and complex. It's simple because I
can put it to you simply. My computer has lost--that is,
"cannot find"--something called a rundll32.exe file. What is
it, and where did it go? But it's complex because I've had
this thing in a repair shop (twice); they installed (or said
they did) what supposedly cannot be found. The machine worked
well at the shop. But when I got it home and connected it up,
it STILL could not find this thing. It keeps telling me it's
needed to open certain e-mail attachments friends send me.
This doesn't make any sense to me. Can you speculate/explain?
I'm pushing 70, and all my kids are out of the nest--no help
there. Please answer in jargon-free English. Running Windows

Submitted by: Allen O.


The answer is not nearly as mysterious as it may seem. Under normal circumstances, most versions of Windows hide protected operating system files. So what's a protected operating system file? It's as it sounds, a file that Windows uses to do its thing and that is protected from view to keep the average nontechincal user from getting into trouble by doing such things as deleting it.

To find it for yourself, open a copy of Windows Explorer. Click Tools > Folder Options. Then click the View tab. On the tab, you should see a list of options you can enable or disable. Look for the Hidden Files/Folders option. Set the option to "Show hidden files and folders" and click OK. You should now be able to find RUNDLL32.EXE using a standard Windows search under most circumstances. However, if you don't, you can go back into Explorer's Folder Options, as we did above, and uncheck the "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)" box, click OK, and try the search again.

At this point, the search should have found the RUNDLL32.EXE file. It should be stored in c:\Windows\System32 OR C:\Winnt\System32 - depending on the version of Windows you've got installed on your machine.

Now then, as to why it works great at the shop and not at home... First, we need to look at what exactly does the RUNDLL32.EXE file do. It's a ''helper'' file that's part of the Windows operating system and it helps programs open libraries (DLLs). It also helps open documents by going into the Windows Registry - which, in simplest terms is a file that contains instructions that tell Windows how to open files, what program(s) to open a given file type with, how to display programs (how big to make the window, what colors to use, etc... et al, ad nauseum...) and finding the associated program and launching it. This is how you can double click on a Word document and have Word start up and open the file.

Your question, as submitted, is lacking some information - such as what specific types of e-mail attachments are you unable to open. Are there any you can open? Can you save the attachment to the desktop and open it manually? If you can't open the file as an attachment but you can open it from say, your desktop, chances are there may be something screwy with the computer's registry and/or you may have caught a virus somewhere along that line and that's changed the settings.

It should be noted that some virus/spyware authors have given their malware names that sound an awful lot like RUNDLL32.EXE - such as RUN32.DLL.EXE, RUNDII32.EXE, etc.. These files masquerade as the genuine article but can cause all manner of problems, freeze-ups, stolen passwords, identity theft, etc... The first thing to do would be to scan your computer (or have it scanned by a competent computer tech) for viral infestation and for spyware. Some spyware/viruses also make use of the functions of the RUNDLL32.EXE file to execute.

Now then, if it seems to be working ok at the shop, and then stops working properly when you get it home, it might be a good idea to have someone from that shop come over and inspect the machine in your home. There may be something in the home environment that's causing the file to vanish. Given that you've taken the computer in twice for the same thing, and hopefully, the people who fixed the machine offer some sort of warranty for their service, they should be willing to have someone do that. There may be some other factor that's present at your home that's not present at the shop that's causing this problem.

Submitted by: Pete Z. of Los Angeles, CA

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Honorable mentions
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 21, 2005 7:08 AM PDT

The easiest way to fix this is to back up all your data files, do a clean install of XP SP2, stick all the MS updates on it and start over. The cause could be a myriad of things(e.g. it's possible you've been got by some malware).

Make sure your virus detection rules, spyware scanners(I use MS Antispyware and Spybot, but there are others) are up to date with the latest versions BEFORE connecting to web sites etc. on the Net.

You might want to take advantage of the free scans at:

when you have your Internet connection set up.

Make sure to do a hard format when you reinstall XP - this will pick up any disk errors(it may be that the HD is failing, in which case the data backup is even more important.

I'd make sure System Restore is turned on and that you take a restore point before connecting, getting mail set up, reinstalling applications etc.

If you've got your data on CD/DVD whatever, it would be a good idea to run a full virus scan on it before copying it back(you don't want to reintroduce problems). Speaking for myself, I find I tend to do this every 12-18 months - Windows just seems to slow down over time as the amount of data on the system increases.

This may sound like a lot of work, but it's surprising how long you can take trying various things that may be the root cause. This way, you know that your side of the street is clean!

Good luck
Submitted by: Rick S.

rundll32.exe is a process which executes DLL's an places their libraries into the memory, so they can be used more efficiently by applications.This program is important for the stable and secure running of your computer and should not be terminated.

Note: rundll32.exe is also a process which is registered as the W32.Miroot.Worm. This Trojan allows attackers to access your computer, stealing passwords and personal data. It is a registered security risk and should be removed immediately. Please see additional details regarding this process

Suggestion that your antivirus program is removing this dll. You will need to restore from original CD. Also suggest that you protect yourself with a firewall and to make sure your antivirus software definition files stay updated. Also some comprehensive spyware removal program. You should also ensure that your computer is configured to receive and install the monthly security patches from microsoft. I would highly recommend the symantec package called ??Internet Security 2005?? It has a firewall, norton antivirus which also removes spyware and some other security features to protect your machine viruses, spyware, adware, malware and hackers. This is the first rule in connecting a PC to the internet. should never open any email from unknown senders and be aware of phishing.

Assuming that the windows OS on your PC was installed in a folder called Windows, the normal location of this missing file (rundll32.exe) is..
If you were infected with the miroot worm, it would have overwritten this microsoft file with its own version. Your antivirus software may remove this file when it scans your hard drive leaving you with no file at all. You need to make sure that your antivirus software is always updated and that real time scan is turned on. Your virus definition file within your antivirus software should never be older than 7 days.

Info on this miroot virus...

Hope this helps some...

Submitted by: Valentin P.


I have a solution for your problem here sir.

The first step is to get another copy of it off of the web. You can do this by clicking on this link and saving the file to somewhere u know where to get to it.

After u do that then you have to go to the START--->SEARCH--->FOR FILES OR FOLDERS--->All Files and Folders and then in the All or Part of the File Name box you type ??rundll32.dll?? and make sure your searching in all folders possible (check the More Advanced Options and make sure the first three things are checked). Then start your search. After a minute or two this should bring up the file rundll32.dll and the directory you have to go to should be right next to it.

The location of rundll32.dll should look similar to this, but not necessarily the same---C:/windows/system32-- now if you need to copy that location down on a piece of paper then you should do so.

Now go to where u saved that file we just downloaded a few minutes ago. Double Click and open it, Now somewhere in this process it should say ??Directory to Extract to:?? and in the box below that you type what you wrote down earlier. Then click Next and the file should extract into that file, and if you get a message saying ??Are you sure you want to overwrite this file??? and then you should click yes. After that is done, uncheck the box that has now appeared and then hit the Done or Finished button.

After you have finished that you should have no more problems with that file at all. Best of luck with the process and i hope the description was detailed enough for you to understand.

Submitted by: Blake


First off - an explanation of what RunDLL32.exe is. It's a system program, located in C:\Winnt\System32 in NT-based systems (like yours) where C: is the Windows drive. It is used to run DLL files, files that essentially contain libraries of system commands. Usually it is used by Microsoft, to set options in Windows, but it can be used -- or mis-used -- by others.

It's unlikely - if not impossible - that you could do anything in Windows without the file, so I doubt you're missing it. You can check for the file in your windows system32 directory if you like; but you probably couldn't start up windows without it. If it's missing, a system repair - accomplished by booting your computer with the XP disk in the CD drive - would fix that. However, it sounds like your repair folks have done that already.

What's a lot more likely to be the culprit -- are the email attachments you mention.

Not many email attachments have any reason to be using rundll32.exe.
However, there is one major type of attachment that uses it.

Yep, you guessed it. A virus. Viruses use rundll32.exe often, to allow them to run their malicious code - to change system files, to find system information (such as e-mail addresses), etc.

Make sure these e-mail attachments you are talking about are valid, and useful, and worth running. Make sure they're not viruses, by scanning with an up-to-date, thorough virus scanner. Also, scan your system -- one tactic viruses use, is to replace rundll32.exe with their own version, which of course contains something malicious in it.

Thanks, and good luck!!

Submitted by: Joe M. of Chicago

Hello Allen O.

Your question was (basically) ??What is rundll32.exe and how can I fix it because it's gone or corrupt?? and you are running Windows XP.

My first suggestion is that you check your system for viruses. If you do not have virus protection, please let me "highly" recommend Computer Associates eTrust AntiVirus ( I've used it for over 5 years and have NEVER had a virus (knock on wood Happy I recommend it to all of my clients (I work on computers and am a web developer).

To answer your question, I went right to the source(es)...

What is rundll32.exe? from Microsoft ( )... ??Rundll32 loads and runs 32-bit DLLs.??

Where is it... you can't find it or it won't work because it may be corrupted?... from ??I Am Not A Geek?? ( (--- ??Virus Precaution: The original file from Microsoft gets placed in the location at C:\WINDOWS\System32\rundll32.exe . If you find it anywhere else then you should be suspicious...??

Just so you know, Allen, some ??malware?? applications try to pose as valid applications and thus use run32dll.exe. Some examples are W32.Miroot.Worm, Backdoor.Lastdoor, Trojan.StartPage, among others...

So, Allen, how do you fix it? Again, the answer comes from Microsoft...

The advice from Microsoft (;en-us;812340 ).

CAUSE: This issue occurs because of a missing or corrupted Rundll32.exe file. This issue may also be caused by a virus.

RESOLUTION: To resolve this issue, follow these steps:

1. Put the Windows XP CD ROM disk in the CD ROM drive.
2. Click Start, and then click Run.
3. Type expand X:\i386\rundll32.ex_ c:\windows\rundll32.exe in the Open box, where X is the letter of your CD ROM Drive.
4. Restart the computer.

Submitted by: Sandy H.




Allen, I am sorry to tell you that you've lost a key Windows service. RunDll32.exe is a program that converts dynamic link library files (.dll) into executable programs (.exe). The difference between the two are as follows: programs are usually run independently of any other programs, that is, they do not need another application to function. Dll files on the other hand are a sort of sub-program (technically, an application extension) and the parent program contains the instruction required to decode and use the information contained in them.

The RunDll32 program removes that requirement and allows parts of a program to be run without actually having to load the entire program. This is to reduce memory usage (as one part of a program will obviously require less of the memory than the entire program) and to reduce strain on the CPU. As an analogy, let's take the problem you presented in your question: you say RunDll32.exe is required to view attachments sent to you through e-mail. Since you did not specify what type of file these attachments were (pictures, movies, documents, etc.) I will use pictures in this scenario. As you can see, you are able to view your received e-mails through either your browser or an e-mail client such as Outlook (Express), Eudora, or what have you. No matter what method you use, you are viewing the e-mail through a parent program. But when you try to view the attachments (in my example, pictures) you receive the error message and nothing productive happens, ideally, you get to view the pictures. This is because the Picture Viewer is a sub-app of Windows and since RunDll32 is missing, Windows cannot load the it as it is encoded in a .dll file. To XP, the Picture Viewer dll file is nothing more than a series of meaningless characters jumbled together.


But enough background. I assume you care more about how to remedy the situation. Before carrying out any instructions, you will want to print this document. I did not try to print when I had this problem, so I do not know if the Print function even works. If not, e-mail this to a geographically close computer where you can print. I assume you care more about how to remedy the situation. I regret to tell you the solution is not an easy or friendly one. I had the same problem myself and believe me I tried every conceivable solution to no avail. Finally, I realized that the only thing left to do was to format the hard drive. (Gasp!) Now, this is not as difficult a task as it is made out to be. In fact, losing this file is not all bad because now you can start fresh with your computer free of spyware, viruses, etc... Follow this checklist before attempting any major system changes.

[] Gather together in one folder all documents, pictures, personal files, etc. This will be your transfer folder. If it is not already there, move it to the desktop by right-clicking on it and selecting Cut. Now go to the desktop and right-click in an empty space and choose Paste. Now I assume you have lost CD burning capabilities (you DO have a CD burner, right?) so I suggest either e-mailing this folder to yourself as an attachment, or obtaining a free online storage account. (I use; otherwise search for free online storage.) Bottom line, get a copy of that folder off your computer.

[] Hunt through your house to locate as many installation CDs as possible. When you format, all programs will be lost to the big hard drive in the sky. I suggest going into Start -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs and find the installation media for each.

[] Locate your Microsoft XP CD Key. It should be attached to the body of your computer, but if you're like me, it's lost somewhere in the closet. If you cannot find it, you can call the Microsoft product activation center - just explain that you had to format the drive and Windows is NOT being installed on more than one computer.

[] Patience. Do not get frustrated with the machine. This is the most valuable tip anyone can give about computers. Just take each block one step at a time.


To begin formatting, insert the Windows XP CD in the drive tray. After ensuring that all personal data is in some way backed up, restart the computer. The screen should progress to this line: Press Enter to boot from CD, or something to that extent. Press Enter and wait. If you get this far, ignore the next paragraph.

NOTE: if you do not get that line, watch for some key place to enter the System BIOS which control the bare essentials and workings of the computer. After restarting, it should say something like Press Del to enter Setup. Press Del and use your cursor arrows to navigate to the different menus. You are looking for something that says Boot Sequence. When you find it, assign A: Floppy as 1st Boot Device, CD-ROM as 2nd, and Hard Drive (IDE-0) as 3rd. Now save changes and restart. Remember, do not modify any other values in the BIOS settings. Doing so could seriously hurt the system. Repeat Step 1 above.

Now, at this blue screen, you have a few choices to make. Read each screen carefully (except for the disclaimer, just press F8) and look for key buttons to press. I believe you want to look for either Delete Partition or Install Windows XP. Press the corresponding key. A warning screen will ask if you really want to delete the partition. Press L. (But only if you REALLY want to. I stress that after you press L, ALL data is lost) After you have deleted the partition, create a new one and choose Install XP on C: Partition (Drive Space) After a few more screens, file copying begins. The computer will restart, and then Setup will commence. From this point on, most screens are user-friendly.


Ok, so Windows is installed and more or less in working order. Firstly, install any missing drivers such as sound, video, ethernet, etc... These should be located on your motherboard CD. Next, install all your programs. Now, retrieve those personal files from the internet or e-mail. If you chose e-mail, you will need to reconfigure your POP settings. Just remember, the mail server is POP3, the incoming mail (POP3) value is pop, the outgoing mail (SMTP) value is smtp. From here on in, your on your own.

Hope this helped.

Submitted by: Chris B.
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(NT) Tools for future use!
by offthewall234 / July 22, 2005 1:29 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

A few really good tools to use for keeping your computer slaming through viruses, hacks, and spyware.

ZoneAlarm - A free firewall that is easy to configure and mantain.

Ad-Aware SE - Another free program that scans for spyware , trackers, and other security risks.

Norton Systemworks Premier - Ok. This set of tools is about $99, but I think it's worth it. One Button Checkup, Antivirus, CleanSweep, GoBack, Ghost, Cleanup, and other utilities will make any computer clean as a whistle and then allows small easy back-up for potential crashes.

These all help, but ZoneAlarm and Ad-Aware are essential.

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Re: missing system files
by fastpaw / July 22, 2005 10:36 AM PDT

the easy way to replace missing or corrupt protected system files for windows XP is to run the system file checker by going to START/RUN then type sfc /scannow (note that there is a space between sfc and /)this will initiate the system file checker (make sure you have your XP disk ready because if your system finds any missing or corrupt system files it will ask for the disk

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Great Suggestion!
by Rikman / July 23, 2005 6:24 AM PDT

I just wanted to say thanks for this great suggestion! As soon as I read it, I ran "sfc /scannow" (without the quotes). I've had my XP system for about 3 years and I've never heard of doing this. It's clearly a good 'automated' way of restoring system files. Thanks again!

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Missing System Files
by John Benjamin / July 24, 2005 12:22 AM PDT

Do you need your original Windows XP (Home or Professional)CD or your Windows XP Service Pack 2 CD?

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(NT) Missing System Files 11nov05
by jcpenny / November 10, 2005 3:54 PM PST

On a Intel 2.6 PPC runXP Pro etcc
I tried 2 or 3 times to run what you suggested, and
not forgetting the space.
It had been suggested by a Technician:
But all it did each time is bug the PD or Windows
so that We had to Resart forcibly (the Restart Button
on the Tower) so if anyone could explain What could be
wrong etc_Would be Grateful jc penny Montreal.

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Honorable mentions
by mech174 / July 22, 2005 8:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

From what I read you are concerned about rundl32 on ME not XP. I have ME and have run into this error several times. I reset my system restore several times If I dowload or change anything. This enables me to restore my system back even if a rundel32 or other system errors occur. The fastest and easyiest way to restore and fix rundel32 is restore it. mech174

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Honorable Mentions?
by Wolfie2k5 / July 25, 2005 5:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions


1.) FDISK, Reformat and reinstall? Bloody drastic solution! Not to mention this is something that should be done as a LAST resort. Yes, a clean install is always nice. But is it necessary? It's generally a MAJOR hassle to wipe out the hard drive and reinstall EVERYTHING.

2.) Secondly, RUNDLL32.EXE is NOT a virus, in and of itself. These clever little virus writers use names that are similar to, if not exactly the same as the Microsoft original - i.e. RUN32DLL.EXE, etc.... - which, at first glance is the same as the original filename.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should RUNDLL32.EXE be removed! At least NOT without having a copy of the file to replace it (preferably from the original CD! If you do manage to somehow delete RUNDLL32.EXE, you will need to go ahead with the reinstall. Windows will NOT boot properly without it.

3.) Stay AWAY from Symantec's Norton Internet Insecurity. Just got through a major pain in the nether regions fix for a client with the latest Norton on it. NIS did not prevent the infestation, nor could it fix it.

4.) WHY would I want to download an OS file from anywhere on the web? Why risk catching something nasty when you've already GOT the file on the distribution CD...?

5.) Guys, the person asking the question is NOT tech savvy - by his own admission. Walking him through a reinstall of his OS is like telling your average guy on the street to do open heart surgery... A bit over his head - otherwise he wouldn't have taken the box to the shop - twice even.

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Possible solution to Rundll32.exe
by andy44andy / July 29, 2005 4:47 PM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

If you are saying that your comnp isworking at the service centerand not at your home, then you can try checking for your installed hardwares . which u didnt carry to the service center. these may include ur printers scanners external harddrives, and equipments like that. try uninstalling all of them and restart your machine.andsee whthere its working .

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Other recommendations by our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 21, 2005 7:08 AM PDT

AOTW my suggestion to you is to run a system file check for missing files and altered files.

You will find this in your windows accessories panel file in your system tools. Click onto System File Checker. Then just follow the instructions. Scan for altered files and restore them from your Windows installation disk. Since you have already been getting the message of what file is is missing you can do this by using EXTRACT THE ONE FILE FROM THE INSTALLATION DISK.

One thing you must remember when reinstalling a file in this program is what drive you are restoring from and which drive you are restoring the file to.

The other suggestion is for you to run the scan of altered files and correct any other files that may need to be updated or restored.

I myself have added this to my monthly maintence program. I am amazed each time what I find and happy to see that my computer running better. I hope that this will easy for you to use, as I have.

Submitted by: Sharon-Louise L.



Since you wanted it in plain proper english, I will do that just for you. A possible reason for this file, could be that the file path to this file on the application button,is not registed, which means the file has been moved, but the path has stilled remain the same as the old path. If you go to START, then go to FIND, and then go to BROWSE FOR FILE, you can type in this file name, and find where this file actually is. then when you find the file, CONTROL+CLICK on the file, and go to PROPERTIES, and then HIGHLIGHT the file path,in the box , and it should START WITH C:/ OR D:/,ETC. CONTROL+CLICK,and scroll down to COPY.

Then go to the application that is saying that it doesn't excist, and CONTROL+CLICK,go to PROPERTIES,then go to FILE PATH BOX and CONTROL+CLICK, go to PASTE, then click APPLY,and then OK. If there is no application, then create one from the original, by
CONTROL+CLICK, go to CREATE SHORCUT,and put it on your desktop.

If the computer still complains, go to START,PROGRAMS,ACCESORIES, SYSTEM TOOLS,THEN DEFRAGMENTING TOOL. defragment all your hard drives, by selecting this option from the box with a arrow pointing down next to it. (defragmenting organizes the files on the computer into folders and fragments, so it can find them quicker in the catergory that it fits under,so it doesn't have to search everywhere for a file in a totally different place.) I think this will help you, for it is all I can think of for this problem.

Submitted by: Daniel L.



Allen, this is a simple fix you can do yourself. The rundll32.exe file is a Windows program which run helper files called DLLs. These DLLs are shared by many of the software programs you have on your computer and because they can be shared your software can take up less room and there are less possibilities of conflicts between the programs. If your rundll32.exe file has gotten corrupted you should be able to fix it yourself.

Windows XP has backups of just about everything important somewhere on your machine. First, go to the Start button and click on ??search?? and search for the rundll32.exe (make sure you are looking in the system files when you do the search as this is a system file.) Your search results should come up with more than one rundll32.exe. Although there may be more than two, one should be in the ??C:\WINDOWS\system32?? folder and one should be in the ??C:\WINDOWS\ServicePackFiles\i386?? folder. Navigate to the file in the system32 folder and rename the file by placing an ??x?? at the beginning of the name. Then navigate to the file in the ??i386?? folder and COPY the file and move the copy to the ??system32?? folder. This should fix your problem. Good Luck.

Submitted by: Barry S.



Hi Allen:

I had the same problem once. I spent many hours (because it was a challenge and I love a challenge) trying to learn the cause and what it is and how to fix it. I learned alot of things including:

1. Rundll32.exe is a Windows file. Windows is your operating system. Think of it as the filing cabinet containing all the files necessary to run your computer.
2. Anything that ends in .exe is called an executable file. This type of file executes or performs an operation that you've asked your computer to do.
3. Rundll32.exe is a file that will call on ??*.dll?? (Dynamic Link Library) files. I would say that almost all software applications including those that are installed to operate other devices use .dll files. This is why I couldn't figure out what exactly (either some hardware like a modem or a printer, or a particular software program like AOL or Quicken) was causing the error. One thing you didn't mention is when this error message occurs.

That's ok though. It shouldn't matter because it sounds like your Rundll32.exe file is corrupted. Here is a link that shows how to fix it: Keep reading. This fix may only be temporary if you have a virus which is slowly destroying your operating system. Although you may have virus protection software, it may not be up to date. You should disable it first if applicable then go to and at the bottom of the page click on FreeScan to scan for any viruses and then delete the culprit(s). Hope this helps!!!!!

Submitted by: Lori M.



This is one I can answer with great certainty because I have used it many times.
Go to your Googgle Toolbar and type in "dll". Press "search web". Google will take you there in seconds. Click on the second listing. If your screen then shows a man twirling a CD on his finger, you are indeed in the right place on the Internet. This service is free. Scroll down and find your misplaced "dll" and you will be told to download it after you have clicked on it. Happy hunting. Any questions can be directed to LWH LTC RET'D.
My minister once told me," your child hasn't lost God because he is always there".
The same holds true for your "dll".

Submitted by: Larry H.



RUNDLL and RUNDLL32 are the Microsoft Windows programs that need to be used to load DLLs into memory so that they can be used by specific programs or by Windows. Programs that run at startup that have print functions may load Rundll32 at startup & only load a small number of DLL's into memory rather than loading the whole program & wasting memory, this way only the core functions of that program are loaded until you actually call on the program.
Go to :

Free program to fix dlls


Submitted by: Jerry W.



Allen?the Rundll32.exe you?re asking about is an executable file necessary for windows environment and its in your C:/windows/system32 file folder. It loads and runs 32-bit
??dll?? files (Dynamic Link Libraries), in this case your email program. If deleted, you might have minimal customizable options to your computer; control panel, user account prefs, etc., will not run w/out this file, which makes it required and targeted for Trojans, spyware, etc. ? you?ll then see other variations of this executable file (other names for it are then viruses and needs to be deleted).

You can get this file back by using your original Installation CD that your windows came on and instead of reinstalling the entire system when the install program comes up, just have your XP windows look for the file in the folder options or do a search for folders by using your ??Search?? option from your Start button, ??Search?? icon and when that comes up, click on ??All Files and folders?? on the left panel menu in the window ??Search Results??, type in the exact file name (Rundll32.exe) , then click the box below to ??Click in?? and select ??CD drive?? (D: drive). Then if this is found on your CD, just do a copy into your C:/windows/system32 file folder. Hopefully this will ease your frustrated pain in looking for it.

Otherwise, if you find any other name of this file you need to delete it since it will most likely be a virus and can harm your entire system.

Hope this helps.

Submitted by: Carlene



Hi, here comes my suggestions to help Mr. Allen O. to solve his problem.

Rundll32.exe is a part of Windows and as the name indicates it's job is to
run the dll-files. It is usually located in C:\WINDOWS\system32.

Before you take further steps be sure you visit the Windows Update and if
you have not installed the Service Pack 2 (SP2) - do it. It might solve your
problem. If you don't have the SP2-cd you can easily download it from . When all this is done and the problem is still there we
go further.

Now you have a little work to do:

You have to localize the program that causes the error message. Because you get the message every time you start the computer it's probably an
??autostart?? program. So the first to do is to open the configuration utility
as follows. Start/Run and write MSCONFIG and press OK. Choose the AUTOSTART
tab. Now you should see all the programs that starts with the XP. Dismark
one program at the time and restart. Do this until you find the program that
causes the fault. Next step, find out what the program is used to, where it's
coming from and is it needed. Then when you know what it is it's time to
decide what to do with it, take it a way, upgrade or disable.

That's it. Hope this will help you. Good luck.
Best regards

Submitted by: Harry H.



Hi: I know the feeling, no one around to help..

Try this first. go to search ,then files and folders in the start menu. choose all files and folders then type in rundll32.exe and click c drive or xp which ever it is listed as in the look in box. Then enter.
rundll32.exe files should show up in the right pane.
If it does then it is in your system.

If it is not, try to run scandisk(left click My Computer and then right click c drive go to tools and open error checking-put x in both boxes and then run program for a thorough scan. After that is done-right click the programs in the bottom right corner of the desk top and close them. Now in the same box where you ran the error check run defrag and then go eat or what ever until it is done.. After that re-start the machine and see if it fixed the problem. If not go to system restore which is located in program files under start menu . I changed my system around and I think that is the right location. Find a date before today that should have a highlighted date and see if it will restore from that date.

It would be good to do these last steps just for plain maintenance frequently.. I hope this help, but if it doesn't I would suggest re-installing the programs that rundll32.exe comes up on when you try to open them. Hopefully you have the cd's, but if not go the internet web site of the program and try to find a free download for the program..

Submitted by: Ken F.



I had the same ??missing rundll32 file?? problem for well over a year and as a result, I?m the world?s expert on failed fixes. I reinstalled the file, I scoured the Microsoft site, I followed intricate fix-it instructions from various message boards (usually with alarming and disastrous results)!

But just when rebooting twenty times a day started to become normal and natural to me, I made the startling discovery that my anti-virus software wasn?t working properly (that?s if you define ??not working properly?? as ??sitting on my computer like a big old software freeloader with no intention of even recognizing the tine tiniest worm??). Being short on funds at the time, I headed to to see what was available in the way of freebies and I stumbled onto a sanity-saving program called AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition (there?s also a paid-for version if you?re the type to get all precious about your software). The user reviews for the product were good, so I downloaded and installed it and voila and hey presto!
my rundll32 problems were lifted from my weary shoulders.

My rundll32 problems were caused by a virus that was recognized and quickly (and painlessly) fixed by the AVG software but my technical analysis is that it must be magic.

Submitted by: Josella C. of Adelaide, Australia
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RUNDLL32.exe gone missing
by YogiBJ / July 21, 2005 11:44 PM PDT

Yet another way to get it back, very easy.
Click on Start>Run and type in CMD
When the page pops up, all black with a line of white lettering, at the end of that line type SFC/Scannow.
Have your Windows XP CD, if you've got one, ready and insert it when asked to do so.
Windows will then inspect your system and replace any missing/damaged dll files. It will take at least half hour to do, maybe more, so go and get a cup of coffee and let it plod on.
Hopefully, job done.

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That's pretty neat, Yogi -- but all these answers ignore ...
by Cadillac84 / July 22, 2005 1:45 AM PDT

All of these answers ignore the mystery of why it works at the shop and not at home.

So, perhaps AO would do well to concentrate really hard on what is different at home than at the shop.

The most likely answer? Internet connection!

The repair shop surely has some kind of router/gateway/firewall/LAN arrangement so the test bench computers (more than one at a time) can use the Internet. I say that because you can't make money working on computers if you are having to drink coffee while the customer computer is getting Windows Updates. You have to work on another computer while that is happening and it may also need Internet access.

So, now AO gets home and hooks up to ----- (he didn't say!) But I'll BET EVEN MONEY he is using a dial-up and his problem has to do with WinSock or some related thing that RUNDLL32 is trying to use at home that it didn't use at the shop.

If AO uses dialup, he should take the computer back to the shop and have them test it just the way he uses it at home. He can temporarily change his login pw to something the shop can use and change it back when the excitement is over.

If AO is using broadband, he may need to get the geek from the shop to make a house call because his broadband ISP may have a proprietary login file that is not needed at the shop.

The idea here is "vive non la difference!"

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A hybrid solution of these last 3 is probably the answer
by ibdmoose / July 22, 2005 4:39 AM PDT

AO et al,
I've has similar issues with rundll32 where the system will 'get cleaned', but revert back to the same old problems right after connecting back to the internet. So my thought processes began to settle on the trojans and other little viral 'lingerers' that would hide until reactivated by the mothership! The solution was a combination attack of repeatedly using 'Spybot' and Windows new 'AntiSpyware'... Neither was effective alone, as the elusive trojan or whatever kept morphing and hiding (for lack of a better term), then re-emerging after a re-start & a trip to the internet - once re-connecting with the mother ship, the problems were back. I imagine that his (AO's) IP through his provider versus the shops IP may be why the mother ship finds him at home and not behind the shops protective firewall... Someone else could probably elaborate on that one... Anyway, Alternating runs of Spybot & MS AntiSpyware, specifically running one right after the other (don't re-start when they say - do it after both have been run, one after the other - even twice), then a restart, then do it again... After two or three runs like this, both Spybot & AntiSpyware started coming up with 0 (zero) problems found - ding-ding, the witch was dead, and the mother ship floated away, I guess to pick on you! And of course, if after all this, rundll32 is missing or damaged, follow the previous instructions for replacement.

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missing rundll32.exe file but can't use command prompt eithe
by lydialern / September 23, 2005 4:30 AM PDT

I have the same problem, but I can't even open add and remove programs and have to open every executable file with "open with" and browse programs. Windows messae reads Windows cannot open this file
File: program name shows .lnk
What do you want to do message connect to internet or browse. this only works for the current programs. Any newly downloaded file it is a picture only. All of these files end in lnk. When I click on spybot sdv1.4 it doesn't open so I right click and it says scan with ewido (the only program that works on start up, windows update doesnt work etc but now it won't update anymore I am really worried ewido is corrupted also) send to or cut or copy create shortcut delete renamem properties.
I do have my windows xp cd. Is there a way to repair since I really can't do any command prompts, and my mcafee doesn't work because it is an exe file. I can use some internet files that don't prmpt for save and just run after download but not many.
Any suggestions would be most appreciated since I have been working like this for a month. Everytime I want to run spybot which when I boot up, i have to go to the website and run the whole set up, spywareblaster the same thing. It's insane. I run mcafee online virus scan at start up and before shutting down and it hs shown no virus at all. I turn off my dsl when I am not accessing the internet but I do need to use the internet most of the time. Eventually, this is not working. I just got this system in Feb 2005. It is a dell dimension 4300 with windows XP and intel pentium 4.

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Preemptive strike
by cmhughes / July 22, 2005 4:34 AM PDT

I have Norton GoBack and it has saved me many times. This is the situation I run into that Windows system restore cannot fix, but Go Back keeps track of these files and will restore them. And since you can start GoBack before Windows even loads, even the corruption or loss of extremely vital OS files is not a problem.


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Posible solutions
by meduzapat / July 21, 2005 10:36 PM PDT

Hello, this is my first time helping
If windows ask for this file, maybe the file is missed, corrupted, infected or ?fine?.
Why fine? Because maybe is a hardware problem. Check the memory from another computer and the CPU head in the bios health.
If this don?t fix the problem use an antivirus with the lasted virus definition, also check spyware to be sure that you are clean of virus.
To find a better solution you need to be more accurate in the problem's description, check if this file exist and how many times appear on the windows folder, also check the version of the file (if found) and, if the file is missing you can copy it to the system32 folder from another system (with the same OS)
The problem maybe can be another DLL missing used by rundll32.dll


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Common after cleaning malware
by deirdrew / July 22, 2005 1:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Posible solutions
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by dbranum / July 22, 2005 5:14 AM PDT

I am using Windows 98SE and Juno is my E-mail host. Do I follow the same retreival procedures as for Windows Me?

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This might help
by tfs0866 / July 21, 2005 10:53 PM PDT

Look in c:\windows\system32\cache\. Download Agent Ransack(search1) and if rundll32.exe is not found, I don,t think you have it.

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7/22/05 What is rundll32.exe, and where did it go?
by kwp99 / July 21, 2005 11:04 PM PDT

I have a virus on one of my computers that I have been unable to remove. This particular virus would query a couple of IP addresses and download files onto my computer. My anti-virus software only detected the virus by the files it downloaded. The solution, short of reloading my OS, was to install firewall software that blocked unauthorized internet communication and thus blocked the virus from communicating with the home base. I mention this because maybe he has a virus that only activates when connected to the internet and they never bothered to connect to the internet at the shop.

I got the above mentioned virus as a result of carelessness and not really understanding how the internet worked and the scary part is that I am a computer professional. When I was setting up a new computer I wanted to transfer files from my old computer. I directly connected my computers together using a cable and shared my C: drive with no password protection because I knew it was a private network with only me having access. What I didn't realize was that by doing this without unsharing or password protecting the share, when I reconnected my computer to the internet I had given everybody on the internet direct read/write access to my C: drive. I got the virus because certain viruses search the web for open shares such as mine and then have free access to do what they want.

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Another possible reason...
by bobobenito / July 21, 2005 11:54 PM PDT

I've also had this annoying problem and even updated my OS from Win2K to XP. Now it's cropping up again. After my own research and that of my co-workers (Tech Support dudes for the city I live in), I uncovered the cultprit of HP Printer software. Sorry I don't have links to the info any more but basically when I uninstall my HP software...the problem goes away and you have to reinstall the software and run some updates.

I was really surprised that this solution wasn't more readily available out there on the web. Hope this also helps someone.

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rundll problem
by adegorf / July 24, 2005 5:04 AM PDT

Thanks for taking time to ponder my problem. I too had considered the printer as culprit, but nothing I do with or to that seems to matter one way or another. My printer is an Epson.

Thanks again.
Allen O.

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(NT) How do I get to Folder Options
by alniem41114 / July 22, 2005 12:03 AM PDT

I can not grt to Folder Options by clicking on internet explorer. I click on tools but it does not have folder options no where, in the drop down box.
It has internet options but that dosen,t do anything to get to the folder options.
I have windows xp Home Edition
model number 9002425 (I think)

I would like to beable to uncheck Hide protected operating systems files. I would appreciate any help you can give me on how to do this.

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Windows Explorer! NOT Internet Explorer
by Cadillac84 / July 22, 2005 1:59 AM PDT

If you don't have a Windows Explorer icon on your desktop of Quickstart bar, find Windows Explorer like this:

1) If you have a ''My Computer'' icon on your desktop, double-click it. That should open Windows Explorer. If so, skip down past 4) and resume.

2) Start, Programs, look through list for Windows Explorer.

3) Start, Programs, Accessories, look through list for Windows Explorer.

4) It may have been dragged off from where it should be, so you can do this instead (this is the hard way, so make arrangements to be able to use 2) or 3) in the future.

Start, Run, Browse, and browse to C:\WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE

Then when it opens, if you are an XP user and perhaps even if ME or 98, the default folder will be ''My Documents'' -- if so, click on ''My Computer'' and then on ''Local Disk ( C: )'' and then click on Windows. You may receive a warning that files are read-only, etc. and you may need to be an Administrator to change that.

Anyway, bottom line is you need to use WINDOWS EXPLORER rather than INTERNET EXPLORER.

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Ohhhhh Windows Explorer !!!
by alniem41114 / July 22, 2005 2:46 AM PDT

I found it and unchecked the Show Hidden Files and Folders and if that don,t work I will go back and uncheck Hide protected operating system files ...
Thank you so much

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re: rundll32 and the like
by u2in99 / July 22, 2005 12:10 AM PDT

when such a problem is encountered, the fix i recommend to my clients is..

reinstall the operating system!!!
again, reinstall the operating system,
preferably on a new larger hard drive.

there is usually nothing wrong with the actual hardware but at this time you should check or have checked the components such as CPU fan, power supply,
any other fans, maybe you will add a nice quiet and inexpensive case fan at this time. is any cleaning needed inside the case? how about video, is yours in need of an upgrade, if so- kill two birds with one stone. don't forget, ram memory is now very inexpensive to upgrade also.

again, problems like these are best addressed with an operating system reinstall in my experience.

thank you and good luck.

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rundll32.exe possible solution for Allen
by jonjon1946 / July 22, 2005 12:35 AM PDT

From time to time I've had problems with windows critical files, and a trick I learned along the way seems to have eliminated the problem. You will need your Windows XP installation disc inserted in the CD drive, computer running. and when the window opens for installation, close it. Go to START>RUN and type in "sfc /scannow". This is the System File Checker and its purpose is to check and restore to original condition the windows critical files, of which RUNDLL32.EXE is one. If you get into the habit of doing this as a part of weekly maintainence you may find that your system is consistent in its operation if performed in conjunction with file backups, checkdisk, updating antivirus definitions and spyware and adware removal, and an ocassional Defragmentation of the hard drive. Good luck.

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What is rundll32.exe, and where did it go?
by metalaxe101 / July 22, 2005 1:07 AM PDT

my only input is that i beleive that when the gentleman take home his pc that he is attaching some other divive that windows ME cannot work with... hence the system crashes internally trying to load this..

also with respect to spyware programs can be that he has an email that has it... d only question i have is to ask what is he doing when this rund11.32 error occurs

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runddll.32 ***en must be confused now!
by ghys08339 / July 22, 2005 1:45 AM PDT

Follow pete's instructions to the letter,if you cant find the file, it is still there !
in ME open the dos icon,type this in the Black window
if it asks you to convert lost chains to files click "Y"
let it finish,close the dos window then do the search again!
if this solves the problem do a Disk Defrag,if it keeps happening think about upgrading your system
using your existing drive as a spare (to glean *** your important files From,

Hope your pc repair shop ran a hardware check prog on your machine, "tuff test" is good for home use

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The error message doesn't really say what you think it says!
by Cadillac84 / July 22, 2005 2:10 AM PDT

My guess is that the error is

"Cannot find the file 'c:\windows\rundll32.exe' or one of its components. Make sure the path and filename are correct and that all required libraries are available."

So, you see, it may not be that rundll is missing. The key to Allen's problem is that the computer works at the shop and not at home. Focus on the difference rather than on the message.

It is highly unlikely that the file RUNDLL32.EXE fell out of the hard drive on the way home, but you COULD look under the seat or in the trunk (boot) just to be sure. Happy

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