What do I do when I get a kernel32.dll error message?

Question

What do I do when I get a kernel32.dll error message?

- Jack

Answer

This question was answered on October 6, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Anyone that has been using Windows based computers for any length of time has probably encountered an encrypted error message that referred to the 'kernel32.dll' file.

The kernel32.dll file is a 32-bit dll(Dynamic Link Library) file found in Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows ME that handles memory management, input/output operations, and interrupts When you start Windows, kernel32.dll is supposed to load into a 'protected memory space' (in the RAM) so that other programs do not take over that memory space.

It acts as a 'traffic cop' of sorts for most everything that runs in Windows, so if something happens to it, a multitude of errors may occur.

Because it is such a core component of Windows, the catalysts for kernel32.dll errors are many It could be something as simple as a virus, being low on hard disk space, or a corrupted password file Or it can be much more technical involving a corrupted Registry, damaged swap file, file allocation issues or incorrect versions of various system files.

To start, make sure you have scanned for viruses with the latest update of your anti-virus program and have plenty of free disk space (at least 200MB) on the C: drive.

To clear out corrupted password files, click on Start/Find then click Files Or Folders to open the 'Find' dialog box In the Named box, type *.pwl and then click the 'Find Now' button When the list of *.pwl files appears, right-click on each file and then click Delete.

IMPORTANT: This can clear out saved passwords in programs that you told to remember the password, so don't delete them unless you are sure you remember what the passwords were When you restart your computer, you will be prompted to create a new login password.

Another common cause of kernel32 errors is faulty hardware components such as memory chips, disk controllers, motherboards, power supplies or if your processor is overheating or is over-clocked.

Any poorly written program that you install can potentially damage the 'Registry', corrupt the kernel32.dll file or overwrite other critical Windows components that can all lead to these errors

If it started occurring after the installation of a particular program or if the errors only occur when you run a certain program, that program is likely the cause of the problem Try uninstalling anything that you suspect might have been the catalyst.

If the error message occurs in multiple programs, it is more likely a hardware problem, a virus infection or corruption to the system files.

Installing the improper version of a driver for peripherals, such as a printer or scanner, or a driver for any internal hardware such as a network or sound card can also be the cause Always make sure that the version of the driver you are about to install specifically mentions your version of Windows

If you find no mention of your version of Windows on any disk you are about to install, DO NOT INSTALL IT! This is one of the most common causes of many problems including lock-ups and the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death).

If you buy a new computer and want to use your old printer, scanner or other peripherals on it, be sure to download the latest version of the 'drivers' from the manufacturers website and only if is specifically supports your newer version of Windows This practice alone will probably save you months of grief!

As you can see, it can take some real technical knowledge to truly track down the real cause of 'kernel32.dll' errors, so do your best to steer clear of the obvious causes.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on October 6, 2001