You've just downloaded a game or an application that you've been waiting for for a long while, spent some time installing, launched it and instead of the screen you've been expecting, bang!, a DLL error. (In case you haven't seen one a while, take a look at the image to the left and you'll surely remember.) DLL errors can be quite annoying and they are also pretty common, so almost everyone who has a Windows PC has had to deal with them. In case you encounter one, and aren't sure about how to fix the problem, here are a few solutions that will work for you.
One small piece of advice before we get into the topic, (I think I mentioned this before in others article I've written) no matter what kind of PC error you are dealing with, look it up on Google. In this case I can even give you a better tip: there is a website called Process Library which was specifically created to give people information about Windows process and DLL files, so start by searching the file there. It will tell you more about what kind of a problem you're dealing with and help you find the right solution quicker.
The safe way
Just so you know, the safe way is also the most time-consuming solution and the one that takes the most effort. However, all the other ones present a risk of getting your PC infected with some kind of crap, so if the error is on your work PC or you have some really sensitive files stored on your hard-disk, you might want to try these methods first:
- Make sure that the respective DLL files weren't deleted - it's a pretty rare occurrence, but there are times when you or someone else accidentally deleted the DLL file that is required. If you think that may be the case, first search the Recycle Bin for the missing file and if that doesn't work, perform a system restore to bring back the file. Another possibility is that a virus or some kind of malware has compromised the respective DLL; if your PC has been acting weird lately, use your anti-virus application to scan your system (additionally, you should also use an anti-malware tool).
- Reinstall the application - this very rarely helps, but whenever a DLL is missing, it could have been caused by a simple error during the setup process, so you should uninstall the program and reinstall it; maybe that could solve your issue. In my experience, this only works about 5% of the time, but all it takes is a few minutes, so it's probably worth a shot.
- Update your drivers - if you've looked up the DLL error on Google or on the website I previously told you about, then you should have an idea about what driver you need to update/reinstall (graphics card, sound card, motherboard, etc.). There's a pretty high chance that the application which gave you the error was supposed to work with a newer (at times, older) version of the respective driver, so bringing them to the same level will solve this issue. (If the application is older than your driver, roll-back your driver instead of updating it.) This solution takes a bit of effort and a system reboot, but it works most of the times.
- Use a registry cleaner - if the problem is related to a DLL error and not a missing DLL file, using a registry cleaner could help you solve it. But since there are no guarantees that this will actually work, I suggest you use a free one so that you don't spend your money needlessly. (CCleaner or something similar should work just fine.)
I've read some articles about DLL injectors, even played around with one for a bit, so I'm informed about the inherent dangers of what I'm about you to tell you. However, if you have no reason to think that a hacker is (or will be) targeting you directly, the best way to deal with missing DLL files is to download them directly to your PC. To do this as safely as possible, you should visit a website called Dll-files.com, search for the exact name of your missing file and download it (use the third link, the one with the manual fix ribbon). Once you've downloaded the item, extract the archive (it's usually a ZIP file) and copy the DLL into a folder called System located within the Windows folder. If the application still tells you the file is missing, try copying the respective the DLL directly into the program's folder. In case this fails as well, then launch your Run window (press Win + R), then type cmd and pres Enter. In the console that opens, type regsvr32 file_name.dll (write the actual name of the DLL file instead of file_name.dll) and reboot your PC.
The Quick Road
Unfortunately, the easiest way to deal with DLL issues is also the one most likely to compromise your PC. This is one problem for which I do not recommend using specialized software. Why? Because these so-called DLL fixers are generally crawling with all kinds of malware/crapware/spyware, aren't as effective as they should be and you have no way of knowing if the DLL file which you are getting is clean. But if you choose to ignore my warnings and look for an automatic solution, you can try DLL-Files Fixer or DLL Suite. Just be careful where you click during the installation processes and make sure that they can actually do the job that you need them for before spending any of your hard-earned money.