DLL stands for “Dynamic Link Library”. The name is catchy and sophisticated enough to let you know the files are important for your Windows! There are lots of DLL files on a typical Windows Installation. Although you don’t directly deal with them, these files are important for all the other applications that you run on your system.
So what exactly does a DLL file do? Well DLL files provide certain basic underlying functionality that is needed by other software. Diving a bit deeper, you would unravel that they provide certain functions which can be called upon by other executable files. Ironically, although the whole idea of DLL files was to simplify application creation and development, they can cause some nasty errors if things go bad.
Most common types of errors you encounter with DLL files is that they mysteriously go missing, and you get a ‘so and so’ dll file not found error. There is however, no real mystery in this, the causes can range from removing an installed software to a bad sectors or corrupt disk to installation of a new software, so on and so forth.
In this article however, we are going to look at how to fix missing DLL files. So let’s chalk out a strategy to achieve this:
Get Some Information About the Missing DLL File
First off, get some information about the DLL files you are missing. Here are a few resources that can help you out:
- Check the Microsoft DLL help database (update: the site no longer online). It lists all the DLL files used by common Microsoft products. You can search by name or product to determine which files are required by a specific product or which file was installed by a particular product. This is great information for solving version conflicts in DLL files.
- If you cannot find the file in question in the database mentioned above, try Process Library. You can search for Process names (from Windows Task Manager) or DLL file names and get more information about the offending file. I use it all the time to look up a running process that I find suspicious. More often then not you will get some kind of helpful information to aid you along.
- If none of the above helps, then just try and Google the name of the file and see if you can find some information on the DLL.
There is a good reason why you would want to do get all the information first. If you are able to extract some information from any of the above sources, you would know the offending software and confirm whether the file you are looking for is really required, or some malicious piece of code is the real cause of concern.
With that risk out of the way, your best bet is to re-install the software that the DLL pertains to (or restore back if you recently installed or uninstalled a software). We could get the DLL file and replace (or place) it at the appropriate location, but trust me these files have more to them than you can discern. There are all kinds of versioning issues, multiple files having the same name and what not. Most likely this will fix the issue. In the event that this doesn’t help we would have to get our hands dirty.
Find, Get and Register Missing DLL files
If you search for the offending file on Google you will most likely get a number of results offering downloads of the file. You can check them out and get the file in question. One excellent source for finding such files is dll-files (MakeUseOf review).
Search, download and extract the file you want. Now we would have to register the DLL with Windows before applications can use the file. Follow these steps to register the DLL file:
- Open up the command prompt (Start > Run > type cmd)
- Type “regsvr32 <name_of_dll-file>”
- Reboot the computer
If you did everything correct, hopefully you will not see the error again. In case of the contrary, you have your work cut out, do some research, ask around, and if nothing seems to help, I am afraid it may be time to get your Windows disc into the drive and attempt a recovery or re-install altogether.
Have you ever resolved a similar error? How did you go about it? Any clever ideas? Feel free to mention them in the comments.