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In Windows operating systems, programs need some guidelines to follow for executing tasks and actions. These guides are called as DLL files, and contain instructions for programs to follow.

It’s not usual to come across DLL files while working on Windows or using a program on it. Only when you search for .dll files on a File Explorer window, you may find them in dozens.

What is DLL

Yes, there could be a lot of DLL files loaded on your system. It all depends upon on the number of services running and programs installed on your Windows.

Then, the type of service or program also plays a key role in determining the type of DLL file loaded in your system.

What is DLL File?

The file extension “.dll” or the abbreviation “DLL” stands for Dynamic Link Library. So, basically, all DLL files are libraries that contain set of links or instructions.

Programs on your Windows computer access the corresponding DLL files to use these instructions and get the task done.

A DLL file works more or less like an executable (.exe) file. When you use a program to carry out certain task, the program retrieves instructions from the corresponding DLL file. It calls the DLL file to run the task.

Whenever you use any program on Windows, the corresponding DLL files are running in the background.

A DLL file contains –

  • programming codes
  • procedures for Windows software
  • system data
  • archived resources

You can also disassemble a DLL file and convert it into static libraries and .exe files.

How to Use DLL Files?

Now, let’s understand how DLL files work in simple terms. You are using a program on your Windows computer to print a test document.

When you feed your inputs on that program, it calls upon a DLL file that contains the respective instructions.

So, let’s assume a made up DLL file called ‘testprint.dll’ contains the needful links. The program needs the instructions from testprint.dll to run the said task.

With the help of a code, the program gains access to the testprint.dll file on your computer. It is able to locate the testprint.dll from a vast database of system files on your Windows computer.

Now, the program uses codes to open testprint.dll and retrieve instructions from its contents. In this case, the instructions include finding free space on hard drive, locating a document file from a directory, and printing the test document through a default printer.

With the help of the DLL instructions, the program completes the action directed by you. That’s how DLL files work, for any and all programs.

Storing DLL Files on Windows

When programs need to call upon DLL files, they scout for their default location, which is the System32 folder. Windows stores the loaded DLL files in the following address –

C:\Windows\System32\directory

The directory folder contains all DLL files available on your PC. And, storing the DLL files in the right location is important for programs. Otherwise, programs won’t be able to access them.

Here’s how it is. Each DLL file works as an executable file for program. But, it does so only when a certain codes is used to access and use it. So, unlike the .exe files, you can’t run DLL files independently.

That’s why programs have to ‘call upon’ DLL files to run a task. 

Fixing the Common Error – a DLL File Goes Missing

Almost all programs use DLL files as much as they need to. Many Windows programs, however, are unable to run themselves when unable to find the required DLL files.

Most of the errors associated with DLL files revolve around them going missing from the directory folder. Sometimes, DLL files present in their default location get corrupted due to viruses.

In other cases, similar DLL files replace each other or get renamed unknowingly.

Either way, it is important for you to fix these common DLL errors. You can download the missing DLL file from secure online sources, and place it in the default location.

You can also use troubleshooting tools to fix corrupted DLL files and solve the errors. Most cases of DLL errors occur while starting or shutting down Windows. So, make sure you don’t overlook corrupted DLL files on your PC.

Do DLL Files Contain Virus?

Your default DLL files are perfectly safe. But, when you download a DLL file from the Internet, it could contain some threats.

You need to scan all DLL files before and after download. Any spyware or virus found with the DLL files make it a grave threat to Windows PC.

To protect your Windows computer from DLL-linked viruses, always download them from Microsoft’s online stores or other secure sources.

Dynamic Link Libraries – FAQs

Let’s know more about DLL files from the answers to these common queries asked below.

What does ‘Dynamic’ stand for in DLL?

All data stored in the DLL files is considered ‘Dynamic’. That’s because you can’t access the data actively; a program needs to call for it with the help of specific codes.

If the DLL files were static, they would have been easily available as system data on your computer’s memory. And, in such state, third-party programs or malwares could easily modify them or make them fall out of order.

Can you update DLL files?

Not necessarily. You don’t need to check for DLL file updates on Windows, Instead, you can restore new DLL files by simply replacing with the older ones. Also, DLL files get rebuilt during the reinstallation of a program.

Is it safe to edit DLL files?

It is absolutely frowned upon. You should not edit DLL files; the changes cause further problems with other DLL files and programs. You should also avoid using or installing third-party programs that modify DLL files without your permission.

These programs can load new DLL files to your Windows system. But, they shouldn’t edit the existing ones. Such programs can risk your computer’s performance and lead to malware attacks and cyber hacking.

Can DLL files reduce CPU usage?

If a program calls upon DLL files that have unique modules, then less memory gets used up. Reduced instructions or excluded functionalities in a DLL file make it lighter for system memory.

Are DLL files interdependent?

Almost every other DLL file is dependent on the second one. It actually becomes easier for programs to carry out tasks. When the first DLL file malfunction, a program can call upon the second one to fix the issue.

If you want to know more about DLL files, do share your queries in the comments below. 


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