wininet.dll was not found

I went to my friend Steven’s house and fixed his computer. The problem was that a virus infected wininet.dll, and thus Norton Antivirus deleted it. Windows can’t work without it. Only the Task Manager would open, whether you tried a regular startup or Safe Mode. So I did some File -> Run’s and poked around to see what I could do. Eventually we found that Firefox worked, along with networking and the DSL Internet connection, so I downloaded the file. But that introduced further complications: I couldn’t extract the file because (1) the Windows extraction tool wasn’t working with wininet.dll missing; and (2) no other (un)zip software was installed.

After some time I found that, in the dialog box, right-clicking and choosing Extract All… brought up the wizard which completed successfully. Then, from the same Browse… dialog, I cut and pasted the file to C:\Windows\system32 (which is where it belongs). Finally, to open the Windows interface, I used Run to launch explorer. Bingo! Problem solved.

To ensure proper operation and prevent future problems, I noticed that Firefox was version 1.0. I updated to the latest 1.5. Then it wouldn’t work because the Norton Personal Firewall software was having problems. So I uninstalled that, opting for the less problematic Windows Firewall (I left Steven with instructions on enabling it). Then I went to to run their free virus and malware scan; it’s still running now, I presume, as it approximated the remaining time as 2 hours. Hopefully that cleans the system, and I leave them with a final recommendation: get antivirus software. You’ll need it.

One thing this has reflected about myself is that I’m actually pretty darn good at this. I haven’t seriously “troubleshooted” (troubleshot?) computers for a while, and I really had no idea what wininet.dll was. Yet, although I had nearly no concrete knowledge, and no tools to work with (no laptop of my own or additional diagnostic software, and no Windows CDs), I was able to get things done. I know the DOS/Windows interface very well. Heck, I’ve been using it all my life (17 years). I can make it do virtually anything I want it to.

And so I’ve realized: I can’t do this with Linux (or Mac OS X, for that matter). In fact, if you were to throw me in a world of Linux, I’d be pretty much lost. It’d take me a year, I suspect, to get comfortable with poking it the right way. Because the truth is, I don’t know and can’t remember concrete facts. Heck, I couldn’t even remember the filename of the Windows System File Checker. But I know how the system works conceptually, and I know how to nudge the dialogs and commands the right way. I don’t know what else to say about this, but I find it to be quite interesting. It’s not like I tried to learn how to do this. It just happened. Naturally.

19 Responses to “wininet.dll was not found”

  1. Michael says:

    You sound like your Dad. Concepts are easy but he has a hard time remembering facts. Guess concrete facts are boring compared to knowledge and understanding of complex matters.

  2. John McBride says:

    Elliot, I am having a similar problem to the one you described. A trojan horse erased or renamed my wininet.dll file. When I attempt to log in I get a blank screen. I can access task manager but not much else. I cannot access the internet. I have deleted the trojan horse. I tried to system restore but could not. I do not have any system disks with me. What are my options ?

  3. Elliot says:

    John, that sounds like the same problem. In my situation, I could access the Internet with Firefox (not Internet Explorer). From there, I downloaded wininet.dll from the web. If you don’t have Internet access, use another computer to download the file. When I downloaded it, it was in a .zip archive. Extract it in advance so that you can simply copy it to where it belongs. Put it on a floppy disk, CD, or USB drive in order to move it to the troubled computer. Hope this helps.

  4. Elliot Lee says:

    Another note: when clicking Browse, the default is to show Files of type: Programs. You’ll need to change this to Files of type: All Files in order to see wininet.dll.

  5. jon says:

    i have the same problem, except that i cant find the file system32 to copy it to. also, how am i able to run explorer? i am very inexperienced when it comes to computer related problems.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Elliot
    My laptop was frozen because the wininet.dll was missing. Didn’t have a clue what to do until I found your instructions in Google and – wow it worked! I’m certainly no computer expert, but my kids now think I’m brilliant , the laptop is now in full working order and I have found the virus that infected it. Thanks Eliot

  7. Bill says:

    Wow, your entry just saved my butt BIG TIME. I had this exact problem, and thanks to your write up I’m up and running in 5 minutes. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  8. Mike T says:

    Thanks for the advise. I have the same problem and now understand how to work it.

  9. David says:


    I have the same problem. I have copied the file to a removable device. Can you tell me the steps from there using the DOS window to place the file on the infected laptop.

    Thanks very much

  10. Tom says:

    Elliot I have the same problem as well. Like David before me, I am not very well versed in the DOS command prompt (CP). I copied the wininet.dll from another XP machine to a jump drive but now what? How do I access a jump drive from the CP? Or how would I launch IE from the CP?

    Thank you

  11. Mark Repp says:

    I found your blog post titled “wininet.dll was not found” by doing a Google search for that problem. Yours was the first to come up in Google. It seems that you were able to fix this problem. So far I’m not having any luck. I’m a little unclear as to how you fixed it. Apparently I’m not as good in DOS as you. If you have any specific advice, please let me know. I will keep working on it. I know for a fact that the machine has several trojan files that have infected the booting of Windows XP. I even removed them, but from there I’m still not able to get into Windows. Maybe you can help. You can also reach me at work using this email: (hidden)


  12. Charles says:

    I have another serious matter, A recent virus did someting to my computer. Everytime I try to start the internet, or some other programs it says UNABLE TO LOCATE COMPONENT, THIS APPLICATION HAS FAILED TO START BECAUSE WININET.DLL was not found.

    It says I may have to install Windows xp professional again but I do not have that program anymore.

    What should I do?

  13. Judith says:

    Thanks to all that posted here – I too had this problem and all the info was a great relief to a panicky friend. I too am not an expert using the DOS Commands so I will post my fix process line by line. Maybe it can help someone. This assumes that you can use the task master (control alt delete) and a cd or dvd drive on the non-working computer.

    1) Assist to a good friend for this idea. I COPIED and pasted the wininet.dll file from a functioning computer running the same version of XP onto a CD. Be careful not to CUT and paste as the file will be removed from the working computer. I guess any storage media will do. To find this file look under my computer – local C drive, Windows folder then system32 folder. Not the most orthodox way but man what a timesaver! Note: Files may be hidden so select option to see hidden files.

    2) Place CD containing file into drive of “bad computer”

    3) Using task master on “bad computer” select file, new task, then browse to locate the drive containing the CD with the copy of wininet.dll.

    4) Highlight the file (on CD) then select copy (right click or control C).

    5) Again using the task master, select file, new task then browse to locate the system32 file on the “bad computer” It should be in the same place as the on the functioning computer. Local C, Windows (Folder), then, system32 folder. I did not see an option to search files in the task master (doesn’t mean that it isn’t there)

    6) Paste (right click or control V) the wininet.dll file into the system32 folder. Don’t put it into one of the other folders. It will realign itself when you reboot.

    7) On the task master there is a “Shut Down” heading.. Click on it and choose restart. If you are lucky like I was, when the computer reboots, everything will be back to normal.

    It looks like a lot but it took all of maybe 10 minutes. Good Luck!

  14. Michael says:

    hey, this really helped me out. I had the same exact problem except that it was avast that delete my wininet.dll. I was able to fix this problem in about half an hour thanks to this.
    I downloaded the wininet.dll from here
    and then got an unzipping (expresszipp) file (thank god i had firefox which worked)
    I didn’t think it would be so simple to just replace the wininet.dll back in C:\Windows\system32 where it belongs.

    however, I was still able to use some programs for some reason..

    thanks a lof for the help.


  15. Mischia says:

    I spent many hours this weekend trying to figure out what to do with the wininet file. I found your article and was able to get on – I ran a new task and typed in http:\ – I installed firefox and was able to download the wininet.dll file then ran copy and paste… your advice saved me from having to load the computer and take it in for repair – Thank You!!!!!!!

  16. Gabriel says:

    Thank you so much! I really appreciate your help mate :)

  17. Phil says:

    Worked for me, too. Internet Explorer web browser no longer works but Mozilla SeaMonkey Internet Suite works fine just as it always did. Saved me a fair helping of work, thank you Elliot Lee.

  18. George E. says:

    Hey Elliot.. I experienced that problem… But I tried to fix it on my own…. I now am connecting through my dad’s PC, because my laptop (with VISTA OS) keeps telling me: Windows Explorer has stopped working.. and then keeps restarting Windows Explorer.. Could you help me with this problem?? PLS.. My laptop is just 1 week old and I managed to ruin it… 1390 euros…

  19. Rahul says:

    not hard

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