Troubleshooting Dynamic Link Library Problems

What is a Dynamic Link Library?

A Dynamic Link Library or DLL is a repository of executable functions and external codes. One DLL file can be used across multiple programs to perform specific operations on your Windows system. These files usually have three extensions, .dll, .ocx-for ActiveX controls, and .drv-for legacy drivers.

DLLs were primarily introduced in Windows operating systems to enable your PC to function in tight memory conditions by saving both disk space and memory. Prior to DLLs, when two programs required to use the same code, the code was added to each program separately, which consumed more disk space . However, with DLL, a single separate file comprising the code is saved on the hard disk. This file is loaded into the memory only when it is required. This enables you to save both disk space-you do not need to include the same code in different applications separately, and memory-the code is loaded only when it is required.

What is DLL Hell?

Despite their many benefits, DLLs have quite a few drawbacks, commonly known as DLL hell. DLL hell is used to describe the complications that are generated on your Windows system due to DLLs. One of the most common DLL-related errors that you may receive is:

"A Required DLL File, DLL_Name, was not found"

Listed below are the most common causes of DLL hell.

  • DLL errors occur when you overwrite a more current version of a DLL with an older version while installing an application. The error is more likely to occur if the DLL is shared across various other applications that require the newer DLL version.
  • DLL errors are bound to occur if you delete a DLL that is shared across various applications. You may delete a shared DLL when you uninstall one of the applications that is using it.
  • DLLs are widely used in driver files, therefore, faulty hardware, such as malfunctioning hard drive or memory may also cause DLL errors on your PC.
  • A DLL may get damaged and generate errors if an incorrectly installed or problematic application tries to access it.
  • Many malicious programs such as viruses and spyware may delete important DLL files from your PC, which may cause frequent DLL errors on your computer.
  • To make a DLL function as required, you need to register it in the Windows registry. Now, if the registry is full of errors or damaged it may generate DLL errors.

Troubleshooting Dynamic Link Library Errors

You start troubleshooting DLL errors by first identifying the source of the problem-application, hardware, malware, or registry.

If the error starts occurring soon after an application install or uninstall, it is possible that a DLL has been overwritten or deleted. You may resolve the error by restoring the required DLL. To do this, you may perform one of the following tasks:

  • Install a more current version or the latest patch of the application you have installed.
  • Search for and download the latest DLL from the Internet, save it in its original location, and register it by using the “Regsrv32” command.
  • On Windows XP, use the System Restore feature to rollback your system to the time before you installed or uninstalled your application.

To prevent application errors, be careful while installing and uninstalling applications. When prompted, choose not to overwrite a later version of the DLL from your system, and ensure that you do not delete any required shared DLL.

Hardware-related errors usually occur due to hardware malfunction or a corrupt device driver. To resolve these errors, first search the manufacturer’s website for the latest updates for your device drivers and run the update if you find one. Otherwise, check the hardware device that is causing the error for problems and get it repaired or replaced.

Malicious programs such as virus, spyware, and backdoors also are major threats and may generate DLL errors on your computer. To keep your PC free from these malware problems, you must keep your antivirus and antispyware software updated with the latest definitions and run them regularly to detect and remove malware infections before they harm your PC.

Problems in the registry may also cause DLL errors. Therefore, you must keep your registry free of unwanted, obsolete and incorrect information. The best way to keep your registry healthy is to use a reliable registry cleaner utility, such as RegServe, and run regular registry scans, identify inherent errors, and repair them. Using an advanced registry cleaner, you may also run a customized scan to search for only DLL-related errors and fix them.