What is WOW64.dll, is it Safe to Delete it?

Last Updated on August 2, 2019

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These DLLs, as well as the 64-bit version of Ntdll.dll, are the only 64-bit binaries that can be loaded into a 32-bit process. Under Windows 10 on ARM, CHPE binaries (Compiled Hybrid Portable Executable) can also be loaded into a 32-bit x86 process.

What is Wow64.dll?

Wow64.dll is a DLL (Dynamic Link Library) file developed by Microsoft that refers to the essential system files of the Windows operating system. It usually contains a number of driver procedures and functions that can be used by Windows.

The “WOW64” part of the name refers here to the Microsoft software “Windows 32-bit on Windows 64-bit”, which is part of the operating system. In this way, Windows can run 32-bit programs on a 64-bit version of Windows. WoW64 redirects access to files to ensure that programs work properly.

For example, if you install a 32-bit program on a 64-bit version of Windows and try to write it to the C:\Program Files folder, WoW64 directs it to C:\Program Files (x86). And if he wants to access the C:\Windows\System32 folder, WoW64 will direct him to C:\Windows\SysWOW64. Windows does this using a file system redirector.

All this happens automatically and transparently in the background. The program does not even need to know that it runs on a 64-bit operating system that allows older 32-bit programs to run on 64-bit versions of Windows without modifications. WOW64 also redirects access to the registry and ensures that there are separate areas in the registry for 64-bit and 32-bit programs.

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Is it safe to delete the Wow64.dll DLL File?

It is strongly recommended not to delete the files “wow64.dll”, “wow64cpu.dll” or “wow64win.dll” because these files are very critical for the stability of the operating system and are used in many regular processes. Also note that no files in the “Windows” directory should be deleted or replaced, as all files in the folder are an integral part of the operating system.
Error related to “wow64.dll”.

Most users were concerned about the file because it is associated with some automatic execution errors. Some of these errors are:

  • _Wow64 File not found: C:\Windows\syswow64\Wow64.dll
  • _Wow64cpu File not found: C:\Windows\syswow64\Wow64cpu.dll
  • _Wow64win File not found: C:\Windows\syswow64\Wow64win.dll

These DLL errors are in no way critical and do not prevent any functionality of the operating system. In fact, Windows engineers recommend that you ignore these errors because they are not associated with a specific problem.

These errors are mainly indicated by the fact that “32-bit” files are invisible to 64-bit processes and “64-bit” files are not visible to “32-bit” processes. In fact, this can be observed by the following steps:

  1. Press “Windows” + “S” to open the search and type “Powershell”.
  2. Right-click on the first result and select “Open File Location”.
  3. Double-click on the Windows Powershell (x86) and execute the following command.

cd $env:windir\system32

Then run the following command

dir wow*

You will notice that it only displays the file “wow32.dll” and some other files.

Now go back to the PowerShell folder and double-click the normal PowerShell icon.
Type and execute the same commands, and you will notice that this time, only the wow64.dll files and some other associated files are visible.


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