How to Fix Winsock.dll Not Found or Missing Errors

Screenshot of a winsock DLL error message in Windows
Winsock.dll Error Message.

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.

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

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 involved in allowing Windows software to access the network, so it's common to see winsock DLL 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.

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

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 10Windows 8Windows 7Windows VistaWindows XP, and Windows 2000.

However, 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.

How to Fix Winsock.dll Errors

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

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

Recovering a deleted copy of winsock.dll with a file recovery program is a smart idea only if you're confident you've deleted the file yourself and that it was working properly before you did that.

  • 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.
  • 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, a System Restore could solve the problem.
  • Reinstall the program that uses the winsock.dll file. If the winsock.dll DLL 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 DLL error.

The winsock.dll file may or may not be related to video cards - this was just an example. The key here is to pay very close attention to the context of the error and troubleshoot accordingly.

  • 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.

  • Perform a clean installation of Windows. A clean install of Windows 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 a clean install. Make sure you've made the best attempt possible to fix the winsock.dll error using a troubleshooting step prior to this one.

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 whole lot more.