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Last Updated March 8, 2009
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According to Microsoft:

The KERNEL32.DLL file is a 32-bit dynamic link library file that is found in Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millenium Edition (ME). The KERNEL32.DLL file handles memory management, input/output operations, and interrupts. When you start Windows, KERNEL32.DLL is loaded into a protected memory space so that other programs do not take over that memory space.

On occasion, you may receive an invalid page fault (IPF) error message. This error message occurs when a program tries to access the KERNEL32.DLL protected memory space. Occasionally, the error message is caused by one particular program, and other times the error message is provoked by multiple files and programs.

If the problem results from running one program, the program needs to be replaced. If the problem occurs when you access multiple files and programs, the damage is likely caused by damaged hardware.

You may want to clean boot the computer to help you identify the particular third-party memory-resident software. Note that programs that are not memory-resident can also cause IPF error messages.

The following conditions can cause KERNEL32.DLL error messages:

by Richard G. Harper

In most cases, I still think the fastest diagnostic route for KERNEL32.DLL errors is to follow this checklist by MS-MVP Richard G. Harper:

  1. BAD MEMORY MODULES. Try inserting the command DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEM.SYS /TESTMEM:ON into your CONFIG.SYS file with the System Editing utility and watch your computer for a message “HIMEM has detected unreliable memory at address xxxxxxxxx” which will certainly indicate that there is a memory problem. It may take several reboots over a period of days for this to show up. You can also download diagnostic software from AMI, or DocMemory from SIMMTester.com, to test your system’s memory.

  2. BAD VIDEO DRIVERS. Check with your video card manufacturer for an updated set of drivers. If they don’t have an update, check one of the driver sites here.


  4. FAULTY OR DIRTY COOLING FANS ON YOUR CPU OR POWER SUPPLY. The CPU fan can be cleaned with a small paintbrush and some compressed air. The power supply fan should be cleaned only by someone who is comfortable working around high voltage capacitor components. (If you are not sure if this is you — then trust me — it isn’t you.)

  5. GRAPHIC ACCELERATION IS SET TOO HIGH. Right-click My Computer, select Properties, then the Performance tab, then the Graphics button. Turn down graphics acceleration a notch, reboot, try again. Repeat as necessary.

  6. ANIMATED MOUSE CURSORS, MOUSE TRAILS, AND ACTIVE DESKTOP can also rarely cause these kinds of problems. Try disabling them all and re-adding one at a time until you find the culprit.


The following has solved many people’s Windows Explorer KERNEL32.DLL crashes. It is from early Windows 95 days, and seems to work primarily on Win95, though I have had a couple of Win98 users say that it helped them, too.

In the root directory of C:\, modify or create a CONFIG.SYS file to include the following lines:


If the error persists, try adding this line to your SYSTEM.INI file in the [386Enh] section:

; Increases default stack pages from 2 to 6

(The default is 2. If required, increase by increments of 2 until you find a value that solves the problem. The ; [semicolon] works the same as REM works in AutoExec.bat.)

Click Edit, Save, Edit, exit. Shut down and restart for the changes to take effect.

Additionally, repeat KERNEL32.DLL errors can often be resolved by deleting your Windows swap file, WIN386.SWP, and letting it rebuild itself.


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