Isn’t it frustrating to get an error when you open a program that you use all the time? This is way more common than you’d imagine — so at least your misery has company. Maybe that’ll make you feel better the next time you see this error. Many times, such an error is likely to point to a missing .dll file that you have no idea about.
How do you go from here? Where should you look for that file? How can you fix it?
We have answers to all these questions. But let’s start at the beginning.
What is a .dll file?
Dynamic link library, or DLL for short, is a shared library of instructions that can be used by two or more programs. Typically, all programs are divided into different modules and .dll files contain these modules, especially the ones that are common among programs.
Dll files help with code modularization, code reuse, efficient memory usage, and lower disk space. All of this means that programs run faster and more efficiently.
Since it is not an independent file like an executable file (.EXE), a running program should explicitly call this file.
Problems that come with every .dll file
Though .dll files look like a great way to share code, they also come with their own set of problems.
Every time a program uses a dll, it creates a dependency. If another program uses the same dll and changes its content, or worse deletes the file itself, the first program’s dependency gets broken, and this causes the first program to stop running.
This dependency is broken in the following scenarios.
- When a dependent dll, that is, a .dll file being used by another program, is upgraded.
- If someone removes a dependent .dll file from the system by mistake or intentionally.
- When a program or user fixes problem existing in a dependent .dll file.
- When a dependent file is overwritten with an earlier version.
Each of these problems is called a .dll conflict, and this is when you get the “missing .dll file” error.
How to fix the ‘missing .dll file’ error
There are many ways to fix a “missing .dll file” error.
Never download a .dll file
Though it may seem tempting to download the missing .dll file from the Internet, that’s a solution you should definitely avoid. First off, the downloaded .dll file can have malware that can infect your entire system. To top it, the downloaded version may not match the version in your operating system, and this is sure to increase your problems.
Restart your PC
The easiest way to fix the missing .dll file error is to restart your PC. Many times, there are cache problems that a restart fixes automatically.
But when some .dll files are missing, you can’t restart your computer. In such a case, do a forced restart and see if this resolves the problem.
Retrieve deleted files
Sometimes, you could’ve accidentally deleted a .dll file yourself. If that’s the case, search your recycle bin and restore it. Alternately, you can recover deleted files with file recovery software. However, note that this method will not fix your problem if the .dll file was corrupted before it was deleted. It will work only for good but deleted .dll files.
Malware programs create additional .dll files that could impede with the working of existing ones. To avoid this possibility, scan your computer with good malware software. Restart your PC and try if the program you want is working.
Restore your system
Though this is not the best option, you can still do a system restore to revert your computer’s state to a previous point in time. This can remove the missing .dll file error, but in the process, some recent changes made to registry variables and installed applications will be lost.
Reinstall the application
If you have the original CD or if you can reinstall the software that’s throwing the missing .dll file error, go ahead and try it. This should fix the problem in many cases, especially if it caused by a dll conflict with other running programs.
Sometimes, you’ll get a missing .dll file error while using hardware such as a printer. This error can be due to an older version of the driver that is not compatible with the updated .dll file, so the printer is looking for a wrong .dll file and can’t find it.
Update your device’s drivers to see if this fixes the problem.
Certain Windows updates can change or replace .dll files, so these files are not available when another program wants to use them. Update Windows and check if this fixes the error. The upside with this fix is it will improve the overall health of your system as well.
System File Checker (SFC) scan
Using a system file checker scan is the optimal way to fix missing .dll file errors. In fact, Windows 7 and later versions have a built-in SFC that replaces missing .dll files and fixes this problem. To run this scan, type “sfc /scannow” in your command prompt. It’s a good idea to run this command in safe mode.
Use the system update readiness tool
The system update readiness tool, also called the deployment image servicing and management (DISM) tool fixes some corruption errors in Windows. It could possibly work here too.
For Windows 10, 8.1, and 8, open an elevated command prompt and type this command:
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
This command uses Windows Update to check for corruptions. If you’re running Windows installation as the repair source or if you’re using Windows from a share, make sure to include that location. In such a case, your command is,
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth" /Source [source url]
If DISM fixes the problem, you’ll see a log file in C:\Windows/logs/CBS/CBS.log
For Windows 7 and Vista, download the latest version of system update readiness tool and run it. This tool automatically installs updates and fixes problems. Restart your computer and see if this fixes the error.
Startup repair is another option to restore all .dll files to their original working state. This fix, however, could cause problems in other programs, especially if any program has updated .dll files.
Thus, these are some of the ways to fix the missing .dll file error. Though many of these fixes seem simple, you may have to try a few of them in the list because it’s hard to say what’ll work.
Featured image: Pixabay