1. Computing

How To Fix Missing Hal.dll Errors in Windows XP

A Troubleshooting Guide for Missing Hal.dll Errors in Windows XP

By

Hal.dll Error Message

There are few different ways that the "missing or corrupt hal.dll" error may present itself, with the first listing being the most common:

  • "Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
    <Windows root>\system32\hal.dll.
    Please re-install a copy of the above file."

  • "<Winnt_root>\System32\Hal.dll missing or corrupt:
    Please re-install a copy of the above file."

  • "Cannot find \Windows\System32\hal.dll"

  • "Cannot find hal.dll"

The "missing or corrupt hal.dll" error displays shortly after the computer is first started. Windows XP has not yet fully loaded when this error message appears.

Windows 8, 7, & Vista: Hal.dll errors in Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows Vista are often a different issue entirely. See How To Fix Hal.dll Errors in Windows 7, 8, and Vista for help.

Cause

Causes of the "missing or corrupt hal.dll" error include, naturally, a damaged hal.dll DLL file or a hal.dll file that has been deleted or moved from its intended location.

Additional causes may include a damaged or missing boot.ini file or possibly a physically damaged hard drive.

Hal.dll Error Troubleshooting

  1. Restart the PC. The hal.dll error could be a fluke.

  2. Check for proper boot order in BIOS. You might see the hal.dll error if the boot order in BIOS is first looking at a hard drive other than your main hard drive.

    Note: If you've recently changed your boot order or recently flashed your BIOS, this may be what's causing your problem.

  3. Run Windows XP System Restore from a command prompt. If this doesn't work or you're receiving the hal.dll error message before you're able to complete this process, move on to the next step.

  4. Repair or replace the boot.ini file. This will work if the cause of the problem is actually Windows XP's boot.ini file and not the hal.dll file, which is often times the case.

    Note: If repairing the boot.ini does correct the hal.dll issue but the problem reappears after a reboot and you've recently installed Internet Explorer 8 in Windows XP, uninstall IE8. In this specific situation, IE8 could be the root cause of your hal.dll problem.

  5. Write a new partition boot sector to the Windows XP system partition. If the partition boot sector has become corrupt or isn't properly configured, you may receive the hal.dll error.

  6. Recover data from any bad sectors on your hard drive. If the physical part of your hard drive that stores any part of the hal.dll file has been damaged, you're likely to see errors like this.

  7. Restore the hal.dll file from the Windows XP CD. If the hal.dll file is truly the cause of the problem, restoring it from the original Windows XP CD may do the trick.

  8. Perform a repair installation of Windows XP. This type of installation should replace any missing or corrupt files. Continue troubleshooting if this does not resolve the issue.

  9. Perform a clean installation of Windows XP. This type of installation will completely remove Windows XP from your PC and install it again from scratch.

    Note: While this will almost certainly resolve any hal.dll errors, it is a time consuming process due to the fact that all of your data must be backed up and then later restored.

    Important: If you can't gain access to your files to back them up, you should understand that you will lose them all if you continue with a clean installation of Windows XP.

  10. Test the hard drive. If all else has failed, including the clean installation from the last step, you're most likely facing a hardware issue with your hard drive but you'll want to test it to be sure.

    If the drive fails any of your tests, replace the hard drive and then complete a "new" installation of Windows XP.

Applies To

This issue applies to Windows XP, including Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition.

Other Windows operating systems, like Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista, might also experience hal.dll errors but the causes are so different that it constituted an entirely different troubleshooting guide: How To Fix Hal.dll Errors in Windows 7, 8, and Vista.

Still Having Hal.dll Issues?

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Be sure to let me know what steps you've already taken to resolve the "missing or corrupt hal.dll" issue.

  1. About.com
  2. Computing
  3. PC Support
  4. Troubleshooting Guides
  5. Error Messages
  6. H
  7. How To Fix Missing Hal.dll Errors in Windows XP

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.