What Is rundll32.exe and Is it Safe?

One of the first things you learn when a program goes haywire is to hit Task Manager. While there, you can kill or end various processes. And more than likely, you’ve run into rundll32.exe. It’s there, working in the background, minding its own business.

But then you ask yourself – what is this? Is it a virus? I mean, it has a .exe extension, so it must be running something. Hell, it’s got “run” in its name! What could it possibly be? Is my computer in danger?

To answer your queries – no, this little .exe file is not a virus, and yes, it is running stuff. But we will just give you a brief 101 when it comes to viruses – just scan your PC. Use any antivirus software you have and remove suspicious programs.

Once again, rundll32.exe is not a virus. What it actually is – read on, and you’ll find out.

Tell me about rundll32.exe

First, let’s dissect the name: run dll 32. As it suggests, it helps you with running programs based in DLL files. This DLL stands for Dynamic Link Library. This library has a set that includes various routines which a lot of Windows-based programs use. With that in mind, think of rundll32.exe as a mechanism used to run a single DLL program file as a way of running a routine.

OK, So It’s Not a Virus. But Can It be a Threat?

In normal circumstances – no, rundll32.exe isn’t a threat, not to any PC. However, a virus or a piece of spyware can have the same exact file name and be running from some different, separate directory. In this case, you should follow these four steps to ensure your PC health.

  1. Enter your Task Manager. You do this by right-clicking on the taskbar and choosing the option with the same name.
  2. Now you need to find the programs that run under rundll32.exe. If you’re using Windows 7, check the Processes tab. For Windows 8 users that would be the Details tab.
  3. Now find Open File Location and right-click it.
  4. You need to absolutely make sure that the location of the file is exactly C:\Windows\System32\rundll32.exe.

If, for example, the location of the file is somewhere else, with a different name, run a complete malware and virus scan. Also beware of the rundl132.exe, where the number 1 is replacing the lowercase letter L.

The minute you spot this suspicious file in your PC, right-click on it and delete it. Then perform a full system scan of your computer and see if there’s a virus or two remaining.

How Do I See Which Programs rundll32.exe Currently Runs?

It’s easy. Follow these five simple steps, and you’ll see for yourself.

  1. Click on that rarely used Windows icon key on your keyboard. Or just click it on your desktop with the cursor. Either way, type cmd in the empty search box and click on Command Prompt.
  2. Once inside the Command Prompt, type in the following message: tasklist /m /fi “imagename eq rundll32.exe”rundll32-cmd
  3. Double-check for any typos. You always need to do this when dabbling with Command Prompt.
  4. Press Enter on your keyboard after typo checks.
  5. And presto! Here you should be able to check all the services that rundll32.exe runs. If anything seems suspicious, just do everything from the four-step solution in the Threat section of the article.


There really isn’t much left to say. rundll32.exe is as harmless as any software that comes with your PC. But it does lead to actual threats in some cases, so keep an eye out.


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