How to fix corrupt or missing files

Written by alexis lawrence
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How to fix corrupt or missing files
(Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

When your computer is attacked by a virus, files may become corrupted or may be deleted. If files that are necessary for the running of an application on your computer have been corrupted or deleted, the affected program cannot run. If you have corrupt or missing system files, the entire system may fail to operate properly. The best way to fix corrupt or missing program or system files is to remove the old files and replace them with clean files.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Check the website of the program manufacturer to view any free upgrades to the program. If a free program upgrade is available, click the download link on the page to download the program to your computer. Then go to the “Downloads” folder, double-click the file and follow the directions to install the upgrade. During the installation, all missing program files should be replaced.

  2. 2

    Uninstall the program that needs the replacement file if no upgrades were available. To uninstall a program, go to the “Start” menu, “Control Panel” and click on “Uninstall a program” or “Add/Remove Programs.” Find the program in the program list, right-click it and click on “Uninstall.”

  3. 3

    Place the program CD into the CD drive of the computer if you originally installed the program through a CD, and the installation wizard will automatically launch. If you downloaded the program online, go to the folder where the .exe file for the program is stored and double-click the file to launch the installation wizard. Follow the installation wizard screens to reinstall the program, with the missing file, to your system.

  1. 1

    Download a copy of the corrupt or missing system file online. System files can be downloaded for free at the .DLL Nerd or (see Resources.) Save the system file to the desktop of your computer.

  2. 2

    Restart your computer in safe mode. To start in safe mode, turn on the computer and tap “F8” repeatedly until the “Advanced Boot Options” screen opens. Arrow down to “Safe Mode” and press “Enter.”

  3. 3

    Click “Start” to open the “Start” menu and click “Computer” or “My Computer.” Enter the name of the system file that it is corrupted and press “Enter.” When the file appears in the search list, right-click it, choose “Properties” and look next to “Location” to see the path to the file.

  4. 4

    Use the left-pointing arrow to go back to the window that shows all of the computer’s drives. Follow the path that was listed next to “Location” to get to the folder that contains the system file that needs to be replaced.

  5. 5

    Drag the system file that you downloaded from the desktop of the computer into the folder that contains the old file. Choose “Replace” when asked if you want to replace the file. If the system file is missing and not corrupted, you can simply drag the file into the “Windows” folder on the “C:” drive.

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