How To Fix ‘entry point not found’ errors in Windows

The Windows operating system and the software that runs on it has come a long way in terms of usability and reliability, but that doesn’t stop it from throwing a spanner in the works occasionally, though.

How To Fix ‘entry point not found’ errors in Windows

I was working on a client computer the other day that kept throwing up an ‘entry point not found’ error. It is apparently a very common error, so I thought I would write a post showing you how to fix ‘entry point not found’ errors in Windows.

But first, we’ll get into a bit of background on the “entry point not found” error.

Software entry points

A software entry point is a point in a software program that hands-off control of the process from the operating system to the application in question.

For example, if you are using Windows 10 and open your web browser, the entry point is when the browser is fully loaded and in full screen, meaning all resources are directed at the browser and not at Windows. In order for this to happen, Windows must successfully make the hand-off to the application, a web browser in this example.

If an entry point is not found, it means the file necessary to hand off that process is damaged, unreadable, or missing.

If you are lucky, the syntax of the error message itself will tell you the exact file that is missing. All you need to do is replace that file or reinstall the program in question, and you’ll solve the entry point problem.

For example, the error syntax might read ‘The procedure entry point FILENAME could not be located in the dynamic link library msvcrt.dll’ when opening a program on Windows. Or, the error message syntax might be something like, ‘The procedure entry point xmlTextReaderConstName could not be located in the dynamic link library libxml2.dll’.

In both examples, the application you are trying to open cannot find a DLL file: ‘msvcrt.dll’ in the first example and ‘libxml2.dll’ in the second.

A DLL file is a Dynamic Link Library file. This is a shared resource that any installed program on a Windows computer can use. Rather than install a copy in each program folder, Windows uses a shared library of common files to save space and make the OS more efficient.

If anything happens to one of these files, any program that needs it to function will throw up an error. Fortunately, this kind of problem is quite straightforward to fix.

Fix ‘entry point not found’ errors in Windows

There are a couple of ways to address ‘entry point not found’ errors in Windows. You can manually locate and install the DLL file in question.

You can install the program that includes the file, or the program calling the file. Or you can perform a System File Check and have Windows correct the error.

All of these methods will work just as well. There is no ‘best’ fix, just the fix you are most comfortable with. If you don’t know what program installs a file, you may be best reinstalling that program or running System File Check.

For example, I know that msvcrt.dll is part of the Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable Package for (X86) because I have over twenty years’ experience working with Windows computers. You may not have the same experience, so using SFC may work best.

One word of caution, though. If you Google ‘missing DLL file’ or words to that effect, you will come across hundreds of websites offering free downloads of these files. Just don’t. It’s a bad idea and the odds are high that it won’t go well for you.

Even if some of them are legitimate, not all of them are going to be, and some are known to deliver malware. If you value your system security, reinstall the program or run SFC instead.

System File Check

System File Check is a built-in Windows utility that scans the OS installation for missing or corrupt files.

Windows contains a database of what files should be there and SFC compares what it finds to what it should find. If there is a mismatch, the utility will obtain a fresh copy of the file and replace it.

Follow these steps to run a System File Check on your Windows machine:

  1. Open a CMD window as an administrator. (right-click the Windows start button and select Command Prompt (Admin) or Windows PowerShell (Admin)).
  2. Type ‘SFC /scannow’ and hit Enter.
  3. Allow the process time to complete.

If the scan finds a file mismatch or errors, it will automatically fix the issue. If the scan doesn’t find anything wrong, it will tell you so. Then you will need to try one of these other steps.

Manually install the DLL file

If you can identify the missing or damaged file, you can often find a copy in another program and copy it across.

This can be a quick and dirty fix if you need the program to be working in a hurry. Use Windows Explorer and perform a search for the file in question.

Install the program that includes the file

As I said in the example above, msvcrt.dll is part of the Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable Package for (X86). Therefore, to replace the file, I can download the Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable Package directly from the Microsoft website.

If you can identify the exact DLL file referenced in the error message syntax, you can do the same as long as the source of the file is trustworthy. Trustworthy, in this context, means from Microsoft or another trusted source.

Reinstall the program throwing the error

If one particular program is constantly throwing up the ‘entry point not found’ error, it might be easiest to just reinstall that program entirely. Sometimes a fresh install is the best solution for entry point errors and other errors.

As long as you have the installer file or the disc, simply reinstall or select Repair from the installer menu to scan and replace the damaged or missing file. If you overlay the program, you should not lose any functionality or data.

Once again, there’s no ‘best’ fix, there’s just the fix you’re the most comfortable with and that works for you.

Once you decide which fix is the best for you, you’ll be able to fix entry point errors on Windows easily, enabling you to get back up and running at full capacity very quickly.

Have you encountered  ‘entry point not found’ error messages in Windows before? If so, how did you handle the problem? What was the outcome of your troubleshooting efforts? Please tell us about it in a comment below!

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