How to fix a missing DLL or EXE file in Windows XP

Fix missing DLL or EXE files in Windows XP

A day may come where Windows is reporting that a .dll file or .exe file is mising or has become corrupt and Windows is unable to start. This can occur for many reasons, bad sectors on the disk, power failure, virus attack, or Windows just being Windows.

missing hal.dll

No need to worry, the Windows XP installation disc has a spare copy of these Windows system files, most of them are compressed so you can’t just drag and drop them into Windows but hopefully with the below guide you will be able to easily restore these corrupt/missing files back to their rightfull place.

missing ntldr

If you have a Windows disc and have a working PC you can insert it and view these files on the disc. Insert the disc into a working computer and navigate to D:i386 folder, in here you will notice files that have the .ex_ or .dl_ extension , the underscore means that the file is compressed and needs to be expanded. For example if you are looking for a file called ntoskrnl.exe it will show up on the cd drive as ntoskrnl.ex_, the same goes for the dll files they will show up as .dl_, I will show you below how to expand these files and replace the corrupt ones.

Contents of the D:i386 folder, notice the DL_/SY_/EX_/MS_ files they are compressed DLL/SYS/EXE/MSI files that we will expand later.

missing .dll file

Let’s get started

Here is the plan

  • We will boot into BIOS and change the boot priority so your PC boots from the CD-ROM first.
  • We will enter the Windows XP recovery mode.
  • We will expand or copy the missing .dll or .exe file into the approporiate directory.

1. Boot into BIOS and change the boot priority to boot from the CD first, usually when the PC starts it asks you to press the DEL key or some other key to enter Setup. Change the boot order and click Exit and then Save Changes and EXIT.

missing .dll file

2. Once you reboot, you will get a message “Press any key to boot from CD”, press any key. On the below screen press ‘R’

missing .dll file

3. In the below screen type in ’1′ and press Enter. If it asks you for the Administrator password and you’re not sure if you had one it may be empty, just press Enter.

missing .dll file

4. You will get to the command prompt, type in cls and press enter to clear the screen.

missing .dll file12-02-14 at 02.26

5. I will list the most common Windows XP DLL and EXE errors below, you might as well do all of them since you are in here just to make sure that they are not compromized. Type in the below commands to replace the corrupt or missing file.

Run the below commands to replace the approporiate file:

  • expand d:i386hal.dl_ c:windowssystem32
  • expand d:i386ntoskrnl.ex_ c:windowssystem32
  • expand d:i386ndis.sy_ c:windowssystem32drivers
  • copy d:i386ntldr c:
  • copy c:
  • copy d:i386ntfs.sys c:windowssystem32drivers

missing .dll file

6. If you are missing a different DLL file see if the file is on the disc, if it’s not on the disc post it in the forums as someone might be able to provide you with the correct copy of the file, click at the top menu bar on FORUM. Make sure to specify your Windows version and if it’s 32-bit or 64-bit version.


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