How to Solve “Missing DLL” Errors on Windows 10

If you have been using Windows 10 for any length of time, you’ve probably encountered a “missing .dll” error message when trying to run an application on your computer. For those who do not know what a DLL or Dynamic Link Library is, not only is this error message confusing but it can be hard to know where to begin troubleshooting the problem. Let’s run through what DLL is, why the error message may pop up, and 9 methods for solving it on Windows 10.

What Is A DLL File on Windows 10

A Dynamic Link Library (DLL) file refers to a file format on Windows operating systems that contain multiple procedures and codes for Windows programs. A DLL file is essentially a set of instructions that programs use in order to perform certain operations such as finding free space to store that document or allowing multiple applications to access the data from a file at the same time.

Example of what DLL files are

Why Do You See “missing DLL” Errors?

You may receive a missing DLL error if any of the following occur:

  • The DLL file was accidentally deleted. This can happen during hard disk cleaning or during the removal of programs.
  • The DLL file was overwritten with a new installation of a program. This may make existing DLL files invalid or incompatible.
  • The DLL file becomes corrupted due to malware or a hardware malfunction.

In any of these instances, your programs may not start and your computer may tell you to re-install the application to fix the issue. While this is one way to fix the problem, there are several other methods you can try which we’ve outlined below.

9 Methods for Fixing Missing DLL Errors on Windows 10

1. Run Your Antivirus to Look for Malware

It is always a good idea to run an antivirus scan to look for malware or viruses that could be playing havoc on your .dll files. Why? Some malicious viruses will pretend to be DLL files, which end up damaging your programs.

Windows 10 Quick Scan for Viruses.

2. Run SFC – System File Checker

You can use Windows 10 built-in System File Checker (SFC) to scan your system for the “missing .dll” file and automatically restore it. This works if the DLL file was deleted accidentally, lost, or corrupted.

  1. In your computer’s search bar, type in “Command Prompt”.
Windows 10 Command Prompt. Right-click to run as administrator.
  1. Run it as an administrator.
  2. Type in: “sfc /scannow” and hit Enter.
  3. Wait for it to complete successfully and then restart your computer.
SFC Scan Now Command Line Prompt.

Note: If you run into an SFC /Scannow error when starting the scan, don’t worry. We have written dedicated articles on what to do if SFC scannow is not working, including:

3. Run DISM – To Repair System Image

You can use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool to scan and restore all “missing .dll” files. Here is how to run this:

  1. In your computer’s search bar, type in “Command Prompt”.
  2. Run it as an administrator.
  3. Type in: “DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth“.
  4. Hit Enter.
  5. Wait for it to complete successfully and then restart your computer.
DISM Command Line Prompt.

4. Download Microsoft Visual Studio and Use Dependency Walker

You may be able to fix missing DLL errors by reinstalling Microsoft Visual Studio. This is an integrated development environment from Microsoft that is used by developers to create things like websites, web apps, web services, and computer programs. It supports over 36 different programming languages and contains a code editor and debugger (Dependency Walker), which is what you can use to solve your “missing DLL” error.

Microsoft Visual Studio Download.

Dependency Walker can recursively scan all dependent DLL files that are used by a program. To do this, you simply open the program up while in Dependency Walker. It will then check for the following:

  • Missing DLLs.
  • Program files and DLL files that are invalid.
  • Import/export functions that match.
  • Circular dependency errors.
  • Modules that are invalid.
Dependency Walker and Missing DLL Files

You can find Dependency Walker by heading to the hard disk drive where you installed Microsoft Visual Studio.

  1. Click on Program Files, then Microsoft Visual Studio.
  2. The Dependency Walker will be under “Common”, then “Tools”.

You can read more about the Dependency Walker on Microsoft’s website here.

5. Copy the DLL File Over If You Have Another Computer

If you have another computer that runs the same programs that you are having trouble with, you may be able to copy its DLL file over to the computer that has a missing DLL. To do this, simply head over to the other computer with a fresh USB, find the DLL file in the application’s folders, and make a copy. Then copy the DLL file over to the computer that is missing it.

If you are asked to “re-register” the DLL file that you’ve copied over, do the following:

  1. In your computer’s search bar, type in “Command Prompt”.
  2. Run it as an administrator.
  3. Type in: “regsvr32 [path & filename of DLL]”
    Note: You will have to substitute the full path to the DLL you have just copied over in place of [path & filename of DLL].
  4. Hit Enter.

Here is an example of how the command should look like:

Example usage of regsvr32 command.

6. Install DirectX

If you are getting the missing .dll error when trying to run a video game application, consider doing a fresh install of DirectX. DirectX installs runtime libraries for some video games that run on DirectX9, 10, 11, XAudio 2.7, XInput 1.3, XACT, and Managed Direct X1.1. Always make sure that you are running the latest and most updated version of DirectX.

7. Manually Download and Install Using Winbindex

The Winbindex is a web service that allows you to download Windows 10 operating system files directly from the Microsoft servers. The files that are available for download include .exe, .dll, and .sys files. In order to use this successfully, you will need to know which .dll file you need to replace. The error message that pops up will tell you which .dll file you need.

Here is how to use Winbindex:

Winbindex - How to download specific .dll files you are missing.
  1. Type in the specific .dll file you need.
  2. Click the big “Show” button.
  3. In the given chart, choose your Windows 10 version.
  4. Choose the update that corresponds with your Windows 10 version.
  5. Choose the architecture (x64). Doing this will narrow down the results.
    Note: If you don’t know your Windows architecture, here is a guide on how to check it under Windows specs.
  6. Find the latest version of the missing .dll file in the results.
  7. Click the + sign beside it and choose to download.
Winbindex - Downloading your chosen file.

It is always a good idea to run the file through your antivirus software or through a website like VirusTotal before opening it up.

8. Check for Windows Updates

Make sure that you do not have any Windows Updates waiting for you. Windows updates often have service packs and patches that replace or update Microsoft distributed DLL files. To see if your Windows 10 computer has an update, do the following:

  1. In your computer’s search menu, type in “Windows Update”.
  2. Click on “Windows Update Settings”.
  3. In the new window that pops up, click on “Check for Updates”.
Use the Check for Updates to see if Windows 10 has an update.

You can also get to this window by typing in “Settings” into your computer’s search menu and choosing the “Update and Security” option and choosing Windows Update from the left-hand sidebar.

9. Perform a Startup Repair

If you have gone through the previous 8 methods for individually repairing the missing DLL file without any success, you can try to run a startup repair which may restore the missing Windows DLL files. To do this, you will need either a blank disc or a blank USB flash drive to create a recovery drive. You can get the tool to create a Windows 10 Installation Media Disc, here.

If none of the solutions above worked, including the re-installation of the program that has the missing DLL error, then consider running a clean installation of Windows.

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