Differences between System32 and SysWOW64 on Windows

On 64-bit versions of Windows there are 2 separate Program Files folders. There are also 2 separate system directories where the DLL and executable libraries are stored, namely System32 and SysWOW64. So what is the difference between the System32 and SysWOW64 folders on Windows?

Contrary to its name, System32 contains full 64-bit files and SysWOW64 contains full 32-bit files. Let’s find out more about the differences between the System32 and SysWOW64 folders on Windows in the following article of Taimienphi.vn.

What is System32?

The System32 folder contains Windows system files, and also the .DLL library files used by .EXE programs and utilities as part of Windows. Although most of the files you find here are part of the Windows operating system, sometimes third-party programs and software also install their own DLLs into this directory. This is one of those directories Don’t run into 5 Windows folders and files If you do not want to encounter any problems related to the operating system.

The applications running on your system may be installed in the Program Files folder or other locations, but these applications usually load the system libraries from the System32 folder.

Separate 32-bit and 64-bit libraries

On 64-bit versions of Windows, you have folders C: Program Files contains 64-bit programs and their files, and directories C: Program Files (x86) contains 32-bit programs and their files. These files need to be separated because 64-bit programs need 64-bit DLL files and 32-bit programs need 32-bit DLL files.

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If a 32-bit program needs to download a DLL file, but the wrong 64-bit DLL file download, it will lead to system crashes. By separating 64-bit and 32-bit software into two different Program Files folder, to ensure Windows does not confuse the software and cause problems.

However, not all DLLs are stored in Program Files. Many system libraries on Windows are stored in C: System32, and some programs also destroy their own library files here. So, like Windows with its own 32-bit and 64-bit Program Files, the System32 folder also has its own 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

System32 and SysWOW64

On 32-bit computers, all 32-bit programs store files in C: Program Files, and the system-wide system directory is C: System32.

On 64-bit computers, 64-bit programs store files in C: Program Files, and the system-wide directory is C: Windows System32 containing 64-bit libraries. 32-bit programs store files in C: Program Files (x86), and the system directory is C: Windows SysWOW64. This is the difference between the System32 and SysWOW64 folders on Windows which is most basic for users to distinguish.

Although its name is System32, this directory contains 64-bit libraries. Likewise, the SysWOW64 folder contains 32-bit libraries, at least on 64-bit versions of Windows.

Generally, the Windows operating system and the programs you use will automatically put the files in the correct location and use the correct directory. However, if you need to install the DLL manually in the correct location or find the correct installation location, you need to know the exact directory.

Explain WOW64

WOW64 in SysWOW64 refers to 32-bit Windows software on 64-bit Windows, which is part of the operating system. This allows Windows to run 32-bit programs on 64-bit versions of Windows. WoW64 redirects file access to ensure that the program will work properly.

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For example, if you install a 32-bit program on a 64-bit version of Windows and try to write to the C: Program Files folder, WoW64 will point it to C: Program Files (x86). And if you want to access the C: Windows System32 folder, WoW64 will point it to C: Windows SysWOW64. Windows does this by using file system redirection.

All this happens automatically and runs in the background. Even if the program doesn’t need to know if it’s running on 64-bit operating system, it allows to run older 32-bit programs without having to tweak it on 64-bit versions of Windows. WOW64 also redirects registry access, ensuring there are separate registry areas for 64-bit and 32-bit programs.

Why 64-bit System32, and 32-bit SysWOW64?

The problem here is why are 32-bit System32 and SysWOW64 folders? The answer is that many 32-bit applications are hard-coded to use the C: Windows System32 folder. When developers recompile these applications for 64-bit versions of Windows, they continue to use the C: Windows System32 folder.

Instead of changing the directory name and forcing the developer to move to a new application, breaking many of the applications in the process, Microsoft dropped System32 as the standard system library directory. They create a new library directory for applications that run in the WoW64 class, and are called “SysWOW64”.

So the article on Taimienphi.vn just clarified for you the difference between the System32 and SysWOW64 folders on Windows. Hope the above article provides you with useful information. If you have any questions or questions you’d like to answer, you can leave your comments in the comment section below the article.


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