How to Fix “DLL Files Missing” Errors in Windows
Seeing a DLL error on your Windows PC? These common errors are frustrating to troubleshoot because you often have to go through several steps to find the problem.
Let’s review some of the most common DLL errors in Windows and walk through the process of troubleshooting these irritating issues.
What Is a DLL?
It helps to understand what your error message means before you begin troubleshooting it. DLL stands for Dynamic Link Library. As explained in our overview of DLL files, they are a core part of Windows and allow programs to perform a variety of functions without writing them from scratch every time.
For instance, a program might access a DLL when it wants to display a message on the screen. It uses the appropriate DLL to create this box, instead of the developers having to code their own message box. This results in more efficiency for programmers and standardization across Windows.
But when something goes wrong, that DLL file can go missing. And because many programs can share one DLL on your PC (even at the same time), often a DLL error doesn’t indicate a problem with just one app. This is part of what makes troubleshooting such errors a pain.
Common DLL Errors in Windows
As you might imagine, some DLLs pop up in error messages more frequently than others. Here are some of the DLLs most known for causing issues.
MSVCP140, MSVCP120, MSVCP110, and MSVCP100
All four of these files are different versions (14.0, 10.0, etc.) of the same DLL. MSVC stands for Microsoft Visual C++, an extremely common format for Windows applications.
Chances are that if you open your installed programs list, you’ll see multiple entries labeled Microsoft Visual C++ 20xx Redistributable. Whenever you install a program that needs a particular version of this package, it prompts you to download it, or it won’t work.
Because this file is used by so many applications, it commonly shows up in errors. You may have issues with this DLL when launching Skype, the WordPress app, and various games. We’ve also looked at how to fix Visual C++ install errors if you have problems with that step.
MSVCR100 and MSVCR71
These two DLLs are companions of the above. While the CP in those stands for C++, these files contain libraries in the C programming language. These two numbers are again different versions of the same file, and you likely have multiple versions installed thanks to program compatibility.
Since these are so common, errors can appear when you launch a variety of software.
The “link” in Dynamic Link Library is well-named—here’s another DLL that’s related to the first two. Versions 7 to 13 of the Visual C++ library DLLs used a different name for each version, resulting in the above common files. Starting with version 14, programs using either language have to link to another new DLL. Its name is VCRUNTIME, which changes with each new version.
This error is known to occur when trying to run Adobe Creative Cloud software, as well as Kodi.
This is a DLL with a different root. The DX in this file name refers to Microsoft DirectX, a collection of APIs for running multimedia games and apps. The 43 in the title refers to a specific version, so you may also see this with another number.
Since DirectX is mainly for visual-heavy programs, you’re likely to see this error when starting a video game or other graphically intensive app.
Lame_enc isn’t an insult to your PC. It refers to the LAME (“LAME Ain’t an MP3 Encoder”) encoder that allows audio software to convert to MP3. Prior to April 2019, programs weren’t allowed to include this on their own due to software patents. However, programs can now legally include the MP3 encoding software, so you don’t need to install it on your own.. Thus, you’ll need to install LAME on your own.
The majority of use cases around this error are in Audacity. Make sure you have updated Audacity if you see this DLL error; consider uninstalling the old version and installing it fresh. If you’re not using Audacity, you’ll probably see this error when you try to load or save an MP3. Download the latest version of LAME and try again.
Probably the most serious error on the list, NTDLL is a file that handles NT kernel functions. NT used to stand for New Technology and was once a part of the Windows product name, but now is only included in technical Windows information.
Errors about this DLL are often caused by driver issues or a problem with Windows interfacing with a program. Because this file handles low-level system functions, crashes often prevent you from booting into Windows.
How to Troubleshoot DLL Errors
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the most common errors, let’s walk through the general process of troubleshooting them.
Keep in mind that these are generic troubleshooting steps; they aren’t limited to the errors above, and may not apply to every kind of DLL error. But if you’re getting an error because DLL files are missing, this sequence should help.
Step 0: What Not to Do
When troubleshooting DLL errors, you will almost certainly come across websites claiming they can fix all your problems with a simple download of the DLL file you need. Do not download DLL files from these websites.
Like driver update utilities, you have no way of knowing where these sites got their DLLs from. Thus, they’re almost certainly not official, are often outdated, and could contain malware. Plus, replacing a single DLL is often not enough to fix your issue, which means tracking down a new one is a waste of time.
Also, avoid jumping right to the specific DLL file that causes the error, and don’t dig around in the Windows Registry. These advanced steps are not necessary in most cases, and you could easily end up causing more problems by making a mistake in your Windows fixes.
Step 1: Reboot
As with most troubleshooting, rebooting should be what you try first. If you’re lucky, your issue is just a minor glitch and a reboot will clear it up. Save your work, reboot, and try whatever caused the error again.
For best results, use the Restart option for a full refresh. Shut down won’t fully restart your system if you have Fast Startup enabled.
Step 2: Check for the Missing DLL
Since they aren’t Windows folders you normally touch, this is an unlikely cause, but it’s worth checking. You (or a program) may have deleted a DLL by mistake. Check the Recycle Bin for the DLL in question and restore it if you find it there. If you think you deleted it but already emptied the Recycle Bin, try a Windows file recovery app.
Step 3: Install Windows Updates
Since many DLL errors are related to Microsoft-distributed libraries, checking for Windows updates can resolve issues by downloading the newest versions. This is especially important if you’ve put off installing updates for some time.
After you install any available updates, reboot your system again to make sure they’re applied.
Step 4: Reinstall the Affected Program
Sometimes a particular program can get tripped up when accessing a DLL file. It’s worth uninstalling whatever program is giving the error and re-installing a fresh copy. This may be a bit of work depending on what’s giving you the issue, but it’s an important step.
Step 5: Update Relevant Drivers
If the DLL error pops up when you deal with a specific piece of hardware, you should update the appropriate drivers. For example, if you see the error every time you try to print, try updating your printer’s driver. Update your graphics card driver if the error happens when you launch a game.
Step 6: Perform a System File Check
Next, you should try running the SFC (System File Checker) command. With this, Windows checks for and fixes any corrupted system files.
To do so, type cmd into the Start Menu. Right-click its entry and choose Run as administrator, then enter the following command:
This scan will take a while, so run it when you have a few minutes. When it finishes, Windows will tell you if it found any problems.
Step 7: Scan for Malware
While DLL errors aren’t necessarily caused by malware, they could be. Perhaps an infection damaged a DLL file in the past, or is messing with one now. Run a scan with your antivirus and then use the free version of Malwarebytes for a second opinion.
Step 8: Re-Register the DLL
At this point, it’s worth trying to unregister and re-register the DLL file. This forces Windows to “forget” the DLL for a moment and re-establishes the component, which can fix the issue.
Open another elevated Command Prompt by typing cmd into the Start Menu, then right-clicking and choosing Run as administrator. Type the following commands one at a time, replacing FILENAME with the name of the problematic DLL:
regsvr32 /u FILENAME.dll
Step 9: Try a System Restore
If this error started recently, a System Restore can take you back in time and hopefully reverse the problem.
Type control panel into the Start Menu and launch it. Change the View by field at the top-right to Small icons and select Recovery. Here, select Open System Restore. Follow the prompts to choose a restore time and let Windows complete the process.
Check out our help on troubleshooting System Restore if you run into issues.
Step 10: Reset Windows
At this point, you’ve done nearly all the troubleshooting you can. If you’re sure that you’ve installed all available Windows and driver updates, reinstalled the program, tried the Command Prompt utilities, and rebooted (recently), then you should proceed with factory resetting Windows.
Thankfully, you can use the Reset This PC function to reinstall a fresh copy of Windows without removing your personal files. Hopefully, it never gets to this point. But after all the above troubleshooting, you should reset and avoid wasting even more time troubleshooting.
DLL Errors Can Drive You Crazy
Now you know the roots of some common DLL errors in Windows and how to troubleshoot them. Unfortunately, these issues are some of the most frustrating to troubleshoot, so we wish you luck. Hopefully, your issue will disappear with a few quick updates and a reboot.