Fix: ‘Illegal System DLL Relocation’ error in Windows XP

The illegal system DLL relocation error primarily appears in Windows XP when the user reboots the PC, runs a program, or downloads an application.

Due to this error prompt, you will not be able to open any programs on your computer, and sometimes the system will continually reboot by itself.


The main reason behind this issue is damaged, faulty, or missing system files, including the DLL ones. This is also a cause for many major problems in the Windows OS, apart from this DLL relocation error.

Now, to begin with, users can run the SFC scan in order to repair corrupt files and make applications run normally.

Secondly, programs that use the User32.dll file can be reinstalled to protect your PC from further problems. Below, I will explain how to do this in detail, along with five other fixes for this error.

1. Run the SFC scan.

The System File Checker (SFC) scan examines all the Windows files on your PC to determine if there are any issues. If it discovers an incorrect or overwritten file version, it replaces it with the correct version from the %Systemroot%\System32\Dllcache cache folder.

In case a DLL file has become corrupted over time, this scan will fix it for you automatically. So, here’s how to run the SFC scan:

  1. In the Windows search bar, type: CMD
  2. Select Run as Administrator to open the Command Prompt.
  3. Insert the following command and press Enter:
    sfc /scannow

  1. Wait for the scan to complete and repair the damaged files.
  2. Now, run the program that was displaying the Illegal System DLL Relocation error and see whether the issue has been fixed.

2. Install Service Pack 3.

Service Pack 3 was the last update that Windows XP received and served as the successor to Service Pack 2. Many DLL errors on a Windows XP computer result from the outdated operating system running on SP1 or SP2.

Therefore, you need to install the latest Service Pack and restart your PC afterward to fix the issue. Unfortunately, the update is not available on Microsoft’s website; therefore, you must download it from an external source. Also, ensure that the hard disk has at least 1,500 MB of available space.

Note: If you already have SP3 installed, uninstall it and reinstall it again.

Here are the prerequisites and steps for installing SP3 on XP:

  1. Open Run with Win + R and type: appwiz.cpl

  1. This will take you to Control Panel > Uninstall or change a program.

  1. Remove the Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit and Remote Desktop Connection.
  2. Disable your antivirus software.
  3. Now install Service Pack 3 by clicking on this link.
  4. Click ‘Next‘ on the Installation Wizard after the extraction is completed.
  5. Wait for the inspection and installation to be completed.
  6. Click Finish to restart your PC.

  1. Install any new security updates if you get the notification.
  2. Now open or download an application, and the DLL error should no longer show up.

3. Reinstall programs that use the User32.dll file.

User32.dll is an important file for running Windows operations. If it is removed or damaged, the programs using this file will not open, and you will receive the ‘Illegal System DLL Relocation’ error.

This occurs when you delete a program that was utilizing the User32.dll file. However, during the process, the dynamic link library (DLL) file is also removed. Now, you need to reinstall the programs on your computer that currently use the User32.dll file and display the relocation error upon launching.

This process can be time-consuming, depending on the number of programs you have to reinstall.

Here are the steps to identify the applications with the User32.dll file:

  1. Click on the Start Menu and type CMD.
  2. Run the Command Prompt with administrator access.
  3. Press Enter after typing the following command:
    tasklist /m User32.dll

  1. A list will appear, displaying all the programs using this file.
  2. Determine which ones are causing the error during the opening process and reinstall them.

4. Perform a clean boot on Windows.

When you clean boot Windows, the system starts only with the necessary Windows services and default programs that are required for the computer to run. The reason for clean booting is that it doesn’t start any irrelevant services or programs that might be causing the DLL errors in normal booting mode.

After a clean boot, you can identify which programs were causing the issue and remove them.

Here’s how to clean boot a Windows XP computer:

  1. Click on Start, and then click on Run.
  2. Type msconfig and click OK.

  1. Click on Selective Startup in the General tab.
  2. Untick the following files:
    • Process SYSTEM.INI File
    • Process WIN.INI File
    • Load Startup Items
  3. Keep the Load System Services and Use Original BOOT.INI checked.

  1. Click on the Services tab now.
  2. Tick mark the Hide all Microsoft Services option.
  3. Click Disable All to disable all other services, and then click OK.

  1. Finally, click Restart.

  1. In the System Configuration Utility prompt, place a checkmark in the “Don’t show the message… when Windows starts” box and click OK.

  1. The computer will now start in the clean boot state.

5. Create a new user account.

Sometimes, the problem can be with the user account that you are using on Windows, and creating a new one will resolve it. The process is uncomplicated and can be completed in under a minute. Here are the steps:

  1. Log in to Windows as an administrator.
  2. Click on the start button and go to the Control Panel.
  3. Click on User Accounts from the options available.

  1. Select Create a new account.

  1. Type the username you want, and then click “Next.

  1. Select whether the account should have administrative or limited privileges.

  1. Click on Create Account.

The account will be created here. You can further set up the profile picture and password according to your preference using the “Change an Account” option.

Now, try to install and open some programs in the new account and see whether the Illegal System DLL Relocation error appears.

6. Restore the computer to an earlier point.

System Restore allows your computer to revert to an earlier point in time. In case some files have become faulty or there is other data corruption, System Restore returns your system to the state where everything was functioning normally. This also resolves many DLL problems and issues.

Don’t worry; none of your data will be lost, and neither will any updates or programs. However, some recently installed applications might be removed if you’re going back to the point when they weren’t downloaded.

More often than not, Windows creates system restore points automatically. However, they can be made manually as well. For more on that, refer to our guide about how to create a system restore point.

Anyway, here is how to perform a system restore on a Windows XP PC:

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. Go to All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.

  1. Select the option that says: Restore my computer to an earlier time.
  2. Click Next.

  1. From the calendar on the left, select any of the highlighted, bold dates.
  2. From the right menu, select the restoration point.

  1. Click Next.
  2. Click Next again on the Confirm Restore Point Selection prompt.
  3. Wait for the system to reboot after the restoration.
  4. Once it restarts, open or download a program, and the DLL relocation error will be resolved.

Abdullah Iqbal

Abdullah is a Google IT certified Help Desk Technician with extensive experience in providing technical support to system users. He has a proven track record of effectively resolving IT issues, and is adept at working with tools like Jira and ZenDesk to efficiently manage support tickets. Abdullah is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and constantly seeks to improve his skills and knowledge through professional development opportunities.