There are an infinite number of types of files in computing. Each one with different characteristics. Surely, the one you are most familiar with is .doc for Word documents, .jpg for photos or .exe for executable files. But there is one type of file that is vital to any computer. Curiously enough, it is also one of the ones that causes the most headaches: .dll files. Windows owes much of its functionality to .dll files. When we run a program, much of the functionality is made possible by this type of file. Files of this type help to modularize code, code reuse, poor memory usage. In addition to reducing the amount of space, they occupy. It allows, among others, the operating system and programs to load faster.
What is a .dll file?
They are a type of libraries containing code and data that can be used by more than one program at the same time. Dynamic-link library (DLL) files introduce the concept of shared library on Windows.
Any program on our computer can use a functionality contained in a DLL to implement a dialog box. It helps to promote code reuse and more efficient use of memory. A very good example would be the Comdlg32.dll file that performs common functions related to dialog boxes.
This file type offers a number of advantages to developers. The strengths of this file type are:
- Use of fewer resources: A DLL can be generated that is used by several programs. This avoids duplication of code and thus saves space on the hard disk and RAM. In addition, they have an impact on the performance of programs running in the foreground and background.
- Modular architecture: Promotes the creation of modular software. Helps developers save time and costs. Indeed, it is easier to use existing elements than to create a program from scratch.
- Ease of implementation and installation: Upgrades or fixes, implementations and installations do not require new linking to the software. In addition, since sharing is allowed, the update benefits all software that uses the .dll.
Not all good news
While they have many advantages, this type of .dll file is not without its problems. It is not uncommon for one of these files to generate issues and prevent a program from running. The difficulties with these files, years ago, were very problematic for games, although they have improved.
Nevertheless, they have these problems:
- Errors: Some executables require some .dll files to be available at the time of execution. When the file is not found, a rather flashy error appears, indicating that it failed to start because of this issue.
- Exploits: .dll injections with malicious code are quite common in Windows applications. A malicious actor can change a good .dll to one that is infected. It is required to know which .dll will be called by the operating system and then change it to an infected one.
- Speed: A dynamic linking process is slower than a static linking process. They require more CPU computation cycles. But this is a one-off, as most of the time it does not need resources.
How to solve a problem with a .dll file?
There is the DLL Universal Problem Solver (DUPS) tool that allows auditing, purchasing, documenting and displaying DLL information. Let’s take a look at the tools on which DUPS is based:
- Dlister.exe: Generates a list of all .dll files on the computer and records the information in a file or text file.
- dcomp.exe: Compares two or more text files and produces a third file and generates a third file with the differences.
- Dtxt2DB.exe: Allows the loading of b-generator text files into the dllHell database.
- DlgDtxt2EB: Provides a GUI support for .dll files.
They are a necessary file type that allows to reduce the load, mainly in games. The truth is that it is used for many other applications, although the best known is gaming. It saves resources, but it is also quite common for this type of file to generate a lot of problems.