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What Does Kernel32.dll Mean?

A kernel is the core part of an operating system that performs the basic and fundamental operations including memory management, input/output operations and interrupts. Kernel32.dll is a Windows kernel module. It is a 32-bit dynamic link library that is used in Windows operating systems. On system boot up, kernel32.dll is loaded into a protected memory so that it is not corrupted by other
system or user processes. It runs as a background process and carries out important functions like memory management, input/output operations and interrupts.


Techopedia Explains Kernel32.dll

The core of an operating system is called the kernel. It forms the basic code around which the OS is built and provides the basic functionalities such as memory management, interrupt handling and input/output handling. It manages the input and output requests from software and translates them into CPU instructions and instructions to the electronic components of a computer. Some of functions and tasks of the kernel are:

  • Executing processes
  • Handling interrupts
  • Memory management
  • Managing the address space
  • Interprocess communication
  • Central processing unit instructions processing and allocation
  • Random access memory management
  • Input/output device management

The tasks performed by the kernel are carried out in the kernel space whereas the operations carried out by GUI and other user applications are carried out in user space.

In the case of Windows operating systems beginning with Windows 95, kernel32.dll runs as part of the kernel module. It is one of the files required for the proper functioning of the Windows OS. This kernel is most widely known due to error messages that users see when something goes wrong with it. Faults or errors caused in the kernel32.dll file can cause Windows to malfunction or not work at all.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.