Cybersecurity expert Norbert Webb looks into how DLLs work and how to fix common DLL errors.
You are just using your computer as normal when an error message pops up: “Error loading vcruntime140.dll. The specified module could not be found.” What should you do? DLL errors can prevent your programs or operating system (OS) from functioning properly.
What is a DLL?
DLL stands for Dynamic Link Library. A DLL file is essentially a library module that contains code and data. Many programs are now designed with separate module components. This allows the program to perform faster as only the required modules are loaded. In addition, a DLL can be used by several programs simultaneously. Examples of files that are applied as DLLs include ActiveX controls, Control Panel files, and device driver files.
Why Use DLLs?
The modular approach of DLLs has many advantages. Because the same DLL library of instructions can be used across several programs, it reduces code duplication and redundancy. This allows programs to perform faster. The efficient use of resources through DLLS not only influences foreground programs but also the background functions of the Windows OS.
DLLs help to promote modular architecture, which is a way to develop more agile programs. As only the required modules are loaded, modular programs use fewer memory resources and run leaner and faster. In addition, it is more convenient to update or fix functions within DLLs. Instead of having to update multiple programs, users only need to update the common DLL.
Why Do DLL Errors Occur?
Although the shared nature of DLLs is beneficial to the performance of programs, it can have far-reaching implications when an error occurs. DLL problems occur when the dependency of a DLL file is broken or if the content of a DLL file is changed or removed. This could be due to a variety of causes including a damaged Windows registry, faulty or malicious software, corrupt system files, or hardware failure.
How to Fix Common DLL Errors
Reboot Your Computer
Restarting your computer will clear its memory cache and allow it to start on a clean slate. This basic method can fix a surprising number of problems. If your computer has frozen, try to forcefully restart the PC and see if the issue is resolved. Should you be unable to boot up Windows normally, start it in Safe Mode.
Retrieve Missing Files
Although DLL files are generally hidden from computer users, there may be instances where they are unintentionally deleted. In such cases, you can check the Recycle Bin and restore the missing DLL files. If the Recycle Bin has already been emptied, you can use a recovery program to restore the missing file. However, be sure not to restore an outdated DLL as that can cause further damage.
Check Your Drivers
The driver for a hardware device may not be compatible with your DLL file and result in an error. This can often be fixed by installing the most updated driver for the device. In some instances, an updated driver may cause the problem. If your computer was running normally before updating a driver, try to install the former version of the driver to solve this problem.
Check Your Windows Update
DLL errors can be caused by using outdated Windows installations. Check to see if you have the most updated version of Windows and install Windows updates to apply the most recent DLL files. There have also been instances where Windows updates caused DLL errors. If your computer was running fine before an update, uninstall the update to see if the error resolves.
Check For Malware
Many DLL errors are due to virus or malware infection. These harmful programs can corrupt DLL files or delete them entirely. Some malicious programs even replace a DLL file with a hostile program that will cause serious damage. Use an antivirus and malware removal program to scan your system and remove all offending viruses and malware.
Do an SFC (System File Checker) Scan
Run the SFC scan to verify and repair protected Windows files such as DLLs. In most Windows OS, you access the SFC by typing “sfc/scannow” in the Command Prompt. Note that you must be logged in to your computer as the administrator. The SFC scan may find and automatically repair corrupt files but some corrupt files may need to be manually replaced.
Avoid Downloading DLL Files
Although you may need to replace missing or corrupted DLL files, downloading them from unverified online sites could leave your computer open to attack by malware. Furthermore, the DLL version that you download may not be compatible with the configuration of your computer. A better idea would be to get a copy of the DLL from a friend’s healthy system.
DLL errors can be scary when they occur but most of them are relatively simple to fix. As DLL issues are fairly common, there are many resources and tools available to help identify and rectify them. If you face a persistent DLL problem, consider taking your computer to a repair center to have it examined by a professional.