MTE Explains: Why You Shouldn’t Download Missing .dll Files from External Websites

So you just downloaded a software or a game, and when you try to run it, a window pops up with an error message stating that it can’t run because it is missing a .dll file. These dll errors are so common in Windows, and they can be really troublesome at times. The easiest way is to go download the .dll files from a random website and place them in your system folder. While this may patch the problem, it may be potentially dangerous for your Windows computer. In this guide, let us see why you shouldn’t download missing .dll files from external sites.

A DLL (Dynamic Link Library) file is nothing but a set of instructions which can be called upon by any software installed in your Windows system to do certain things when needed. The main purpose of a DLL file is to modularize the code and re-use the code any number of times by any number of software. For instance, a software installed in your system may want to know the total physical memory (RAM) installed. To achieve this task, the software may call a specific DLL file in your system which has specific instructions to get the details on the total memory installed.

This greatly increases the software efficiency as the developers don’t need to write a whole set of instructions that the operating system already has. When a software want to access a DLL file but the system can’t find it in its library, it causes a dependency error and the program may not run as it should.

dont-download-dll-files-dll-error

The first reason that you shouldn’t download DLL files from third-party websites or from unknown sources is because they are not approved sources. For software specific DLL files, they are usually integrated with the software, and unless you get it from the developers website, it is not a trusted source.

Another reason is that the DLL files from external sources may be outdated (as most software vendors don’t release updated dll files to the public). In the worst scenario, they are packed with malicious software and can infect your PC with viruses or trojans.

Whenever you download a DLL file from the internet, you are just patching the problem you have rather than solving it. For instance, you can take the famous “Xinput1_3.dll” error which occurs when a game cannot find the “Xinput1_3.dll” file. At this point, most users tend to search for the reported DLL, will download it from the Internet and will place that DLL file where it should be.

Now the problem may seem to be solved, but in actuality, that DLL file is a part of the DirectX software package supplied by the Microsoft. So in order to properly install the DLL file, you need to download and install the DirectX software which is responsible for handling multimedia tasks in your PC.

All in all, consider this a fair warning and never trust the DLL files supplied by any unknown source. Sure, they may provide you a quick fix, but it might create more problems than before. Whenever you face a DLL error, try to find out the core problem rather than downloading individual DLL files.

Hopefully that helps and do comment below with your thoughts and experiences using the comment form below.

20 comments

  1. Isn’t another valid reason for not to download .dll files from websites is because they could be infected or altered in some way?

  2. I have been in IT support for 10 years (+). My job is to get the issue resolved and get the client up and running.
    The article works fine when working in a controlled environment. Most tech, I work with, are contending with SLA’s, appeasing an over wroth Project Manager, and vendors who rarely respond to emails, update the website, or return phone calls.
    I deal with .DLL error all the time. Downloading .dll files are part of a Desktop Support tech’s life. Even with NOS virus protection, viruses are still seeping in to systems and networks. This is still mainly through emails and phishing sites. A well seasoned tech automatically runs proper diagnosis tools when installing any patch or software from the Internet.
    This article reads like it is intended for a novice seeking validation. As Desktop Support get the issue resolved, get the client working, and save your job. The only useful information I found in this article is in the last line ‘try to find out the core problem,’ and discuss this ONLY in a team meeting.

  3. How about a follow-up article about the proper way to fix the problem, and the proper way to obtain a .dll file if you need one. You kind-of left us hanging.

  4. Hi Vamsi,

    I could not agree with you more. You’ve put down all pertinent reasons for not downloading missing .dll files from and unknown and/or untrusted source. As you rightly point out the danger of these being infected with malware is high enough to strongly discourage doing such a thing.

    Unfortunately all to often its tricky (and frustrating) to figure out exactly how to resolve the missing .dll issue, so one just copies the error into Google and clicks the very first three links that offer the right .dll for download.

    I think trusting Google links blindly in such cases is perhaps not the very best thing to do.

    It does take sometime reading several links in Google, figuring out what is really needed, finding a trusted source to download from it is really well worth the time spent doing all of this.

    Great post, really well written, thanks so much for sharing.

    Warmly,

    Ivan Bayross

  5. Hi – Don’t mean to intrude, but wanted to add my 2 cents here because debugging and getting things working again has been my ‘bread and butter’ for years. (20+ years in IT.)

    1. The point Vamsi Krishna made about *not* downloading that dll file from unknown sources is great advice. Should apply to most *any software* today. Unfortunately there’s more and more people trying to find ways to place infected files on computers. You may not even know it’s infected. Sometimes all they want to do is use your computer without your knowledge. Other than a bit of a slow-down, you wouldn’t notice anything.

    What this means is you should never download *any file* from an unknown source. Really want that file? Search for the file and read about it. Obtain from a source that has a ‘good rep’ in the community. The original creator of the file is best.

    There are sites that do nothing but give reviews on software. Read these. See if people have had problems with the file -or- the source.

    Always have an Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware program running and use it/them to verify file isn’t infected once you obtain the file.

    2. It can take years to learn how to properly debug computer problems. I know this because this is my field and I’m still learning new things. Technology changes all the time. Learning to debug the new technology changes also.

    Asking Vamsi Krishna to explain how to determine the underlying cause of a problem is *not* a simple task.

    Sure, pointers and guidelines can be given, but this is what they’ll be. The best way to learn is by doing. Unfortunately, this can cause problems because you may not realize the impact one thing has on another.

    Before you start to debug your computer *always* have a way to restore it back. If serious problems are caused by trying to debug, you can always restore and get your computer back to where it was before you started.

    Don’t be afraid to try. As long as you can restore your machine, go ahead. Don’t know how to restore your machine? Learn and practice. This will save endless hours of frustration and probably save you money.

    • You are right on the point Chris, “Pointers and guidelines can be given,” but finding the underlying issue can be hard though.

      Thanks for taking your time to comment.

  6. I’m just and old grinch. When I get that kind of error loading a program I just trash the program and put the vendor on my do not buy again list.

  7. Thank You….
    Good article for novice users and hopefully they will also read what Ivan and Chris have to say….
    If you wish to delve into such matters, it is best to research… A lot… It will save many hours of frustration and what you learn will usually work until there is a major change to a program or an OS….. Manufacturers are usually the best source for any type of downloads…. Find the trusted and reputable sites and stick to them…..

  8. Embedded in this article as displayed on my computer was an advert from PCHEALTHBOOST. I looked it up on a site safety site https://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/www.pchealthboost.com – Very interesting!!!! My browser was Chrome. I looked up the article on IE and got a different advert – for “free-pc-cleaner.sparktrust” … again, look at the WOT rating
    https://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/free-pc-cleaner.sparktrust.com
    I’d like to know Vamsi Krishna’s comments on this matter? Many readers will be off their guard wrt adverts on trusted and reputable sites, assuming that they have the authors’ blessing!

    • Not so much.
      These days, it’s almost impossible to keep track of ads. Even with legitimate advertising companies, the bad guys slip in malware unseen.
      Today, and for a long time now, the catchword is ‘beware’.
      That doesn’t mean never click on a link. Just be aware of the possible outcome.
      Be sure your machine is patched and up to date. Same with AV.
      Keep a recent backup. Have a rescue disk on hand.
      There are many things you can do.
      Monitoring every ad on your site just isn’t one of those things.

  9. Another point. Don’t assume that the adverts that surround this or anything else you read on the internet are ones that the author would have chosen just because the subject matter is related to the article. They are often placed automatically, based on machine textual analysis of the content, and need as much discernment as any other advert – perhaps more, as one can be off one’s guard just because of the context.

  10. i am running windows 7 64 bit…i have been getting this error message for a couple of months, i am not a computer wiz just really know how to do every days things on it. The message i am getting is there was a problem starting C:~PROGRA~1/COMMON~1/System/SysMenu.dll
    the specified module could not be found…is there an easy solution for someone that is not a computer wiz.. i have malwarebytes anti virus and microsoft essentials and have ran both trying to fix it. it is very annoying with that popping up all the time, not just when i start the computer but even when i am playing games or checking emails … please help

  11. When I am missing a .dll I install a .dll from another computer. I have also started backing up systems files and look for the .dll in the backup. The file may not be the newest but I know its safe.

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