What Is System32?


Quick Answer

System32 is a required Microsoft Windows system directory, often located in either C:WindowsSystem32 or C:Winntsystem32. Microsoft Windows error messages frequently contain the system32 directory because many of the system files Windows uses to run are stored in this directory. The system32 file doesn't cause errors itself unless it's missing.

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Full Answer

Some of the most common files in the system32 directory are .exe (executable) files that start programs and .dll (dynamic link library) files that hold multiple codes and procedures for Windows programs. These files include acctres.dll, which is needed to open Outlook Express, inetcplc.dll, which is needed to run the Internet options applet, MFPLAT.dll, which is needed to run the Windows Media Player, and msihnd.dll, which is needed by Windows Installer. Many other files needed to boot Windows and run programs are stored here, such as msconfig.exe, the system configuration utility that allows users to troubleshoot computer problems.

A widespread Internet hoax circulated social media sites claiming system32 was a harmful computer virus and encouraged users to delete the directory to make their computers faster. Deleting system32 would actually cause the computer to stop working entirely. Without system32, the user would have to reinstall Windows, losing all files that weren't properly backed up.

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