How to Fix Winsock.dll Not Found or Missing Errors

If a virus check comes up clean, reinstall the program that uses this DLL file

Winsock.dll errors are caused by situations that lead to the removal or corruption of the winsock DLL file.

In some cases, winsock.dll errors could indicate a registry problem, a virus or malware issue, or even a hardware failure.

The winsock.dll error message could apply to any program or system that might utilize the file on any of Microsoft's operating systems, including Windows 11, Windows 10Windows 8Windows 7Windows VistaWindows XP, and Windows 2000.

Winsock.dll Errors

winsock DLL error message in Windows

There are several ways winsock.dll errors can show up on your computer. Here are some of the more common error messages you might see:

  • Winsock.dll Not Found
  • This application failed to start because winsock.dll was not found. Re-installing the application may fix this problem.
  • Cannot find [PATH]\winsock.dll
  • The file winsock.dll is missing.
  • Cannot start [APPLICATION]. A required component is missing: winsock.dll. Please install [APPLICATION] again.

The winsock.dll file is different from wsock32.dll. If you're seeing an error on the latter file, try a netsh Winsock reset.

The winsock.dll file is involved in allowing Windows software to access the network, so it's common to see errors appear while using or installing certain networking programs. You might also see winsock.dll errors when Windows starts or shuts down, or maybe even during a Windows installation.

These DLL errors are most likely only seen when using really old applications or early versions of Windows, since winsock.dll is a 16-bit DLL file.

The context of the winsock.dll error is an important piece of information that will be helpful while solving the problem.

How to Fix Winsock.dll Errors

Follow these steps in the order they're given below to try the simpler solutions first.

Do not download winsock.dll from a "DLL download" website. There are many reasons why downloading a DLL file like that is a bad idea. If you need a copy of this file, it's best to obtain it from its original, legitimate source.

  1. Restore winsock.dll from the Recycle Bin. The easiest possible cause of a "missing" winsock.dll file is that you've mistakenly deleted it.

    If you suspect this, but you've already emptied the Recycle Bin, you may be able to recover the file with a free data recovery program.​

    Start Windows in Safe Mode to complete any of these steps if you're unable to access Windows normally due to the error.

  2. Run a virus/malware scan of your entire system. Some winsock.dll errors could be related to a virus or other malware infection on your computer that has damaged the DLL file. It's even possible that the winsock.dll error you're seeing is related to a hostile program that's masquerading as the file.

  3. Use System Restore to undo recent system changes. If you suspect that the winsock.dll error was caused by a change made to an important file or configuration, System Restore could solve the problem.

  4. Reinstall the program that uses the winsock.dll file. If the error occurs when you use a particular program, reinstalling the program should replace the file.

    This is especially true if the program is really old and is trying to access a nonexistent DLL file. Newer versions of the program might use an updated Winsock DLL file, and therefore downloading and installing a fresh copy should eliminate the winsock.dll error.

    Try your best to complete this step. Reinstalling the program that provides the winsock.dll file, or updating the program to a newer version that doesn't need the old winsock.dll file, is a likely solution to this error.

  5. Update the drivers for hardware devices that might be related to winsock.dll. If, for example, you're receiving a "The file winsock.dll is missing" error when you use a network-related program, try updating the drivers for your network card.

  6. Roll back a driver to a previously installed version if winsock.dll errors began after updating a particular hardware device's driver.

  7. Run the sfc /scannow System File Checker command to replace a missing or corrupt copy of the winsock.dll file. Since this DLL file is provided by Microsoft in some versions of Windows, the System File Checker tool should restore it.

  8. Install any available Windows updates. Many service packs and other patches replace or update some of the hundreds of Microsoft distributed DLL files on your computer. The winsock.dll file could be included in one of those updates.

  9. Test your memory and then test your hard drive. We've left the majority of hardware troubleshooting to the last step, but your computer's memory and hard drive are easy to test and are the most likely components that might cause winsock.dll errors as they fail.

    If the hardware fails any of your tests, replace the memory or replace the hard drive as soon as possible.

  10. Repair your installation of Windows. If the individual troubleshooting advice above is unsuccessful, performing a startup repair or repair installation should restore all Windows DLL files to their working versions.

  11. Use a free registry cleaner to repair winsock.dll related issues in the registry. A free registry cleaner program may be able to help by removing invalid winsock.dll registry entries that might be causing the DLL error.​

    We rarely recommend the use of registry cleaners. We've included the option here as a "last resort" attempt before the destructive step coming up next.

  12. Perform a clean installation of Windows. This will erase everything from the hard drive and install a fresh copy of Windows. If none of the steps above correct the winsock.dll error, this should be your next course of action.​

    All the information on your hard drive will be erased during this step. Make sure you've made the best attempt possible to fix the winsock.dll error using a troubleshooting step prior to this one.

  13. Troubleshoot for a hardware problem if any winsock.dll errors persist. After a clean Windows installation, your DLL problem can only be hardware related.

Need More Help?

If you're not interested in fixing this problem yourself, see How Do I Get My Computer Fixed? for a full list of your support options, plus help with everything along the way like figuring out repair costs, getting your files off, choosing a repair service, and a lot more.

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