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:
- Damaged swap file
- File allocation damage
- Damaged password list
- Damaged or incorrect version of the KERNEL32.DLL file
- Damaged registry
- Hardware, hot CPU, over clocking, broken power supply, RF noise, ground bounce, or bad hard disk controller
- BIOS settings for Wait states, RAM timing, or other BIOS settings
- Third-party software that is damaged or incorrectly installed
- .DLL files that are saved to the desktop
- Non-existent or broken Temp folder
- A control panel (.CPL) file is damaged
- Incorrect or damaged hardware driver
- Incorrectly installed printer drivers or HP Jetadmin drivers
- Damaged Java Machine
- Damaged .LOG files
- Damaged entries in the History folder
- Incompatible or damaged dynamic link library files
- Damaged or incorrect MSINFO32.EXE file
- Low disk space
- Other problems that depend on the Kernel file
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:
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.