Not a valid Win32 application

Not a valid Win32 application Windows error

File is corrupt, bad, or missing

If the file or program you're attempting to run is corrupt or missing, Windows will be unable to execute the file properly and sometimes generate this error message.

Download files

If you downloaded this file and verified it is complete and compatible with your version of Windows, delete the file and try downloading and running it again. It's possible during the download that the file became corrupted.

If the second download does not work, try downloading the file from a different web page. The person or company maintaining the website may have mistakenly uploaded a corrupt version of the file you are attempting download.

Installing a program from a CD or other disk

If you're attempting to install a program and are getting this error, verify that the CD is clean. If the CD is dirty or bad, you could get this error during the install or after the program has been installed because it was not copied properly onto the computer.

Running a program from the computer

If you're running the program from a shortcut on the computer, verify that the program is still on the computer. In some cases, if the program is no longer installed on the computer, you may get this error.

If a hard drive is corrupted or bad, it can also cause functional programs that are stored to fail. The reason this happens is because not all the data can be read from the hard drive, or its programs have become corrupted. Users may run scandisk and defrag on the hard drive to check for any potential errors.

Long file name issue

Make sure the program or file you're attempting to run does not contain the same name as the long file name directory that contains the file. For example, executing a file named "program" in the "Program Files" directory can cause errors in some versions of Windows.

Additionally, if you're attempting to install a program and after the install the program does not work, you may also want to try installing the program in a different directory.

Bad file

Any file can be changed or renamed to be a .exe file. If you're downloading the file, make sure the file is supposed to be a .exe file and that it's not being changed. If you're attempting to create a .exe file, make sure you're compiling the file for Windows and never just rename a file to a .exe file. For example, renaming a .bat file to a .exe file will not make the file an executable file. For a file to become an executable file, it needs to either be compiled or converted through a software program designed to convert the file.

File has invalid file association assigned

In Windows, each file extension (.exe, .jpg, .txt, etc) is associated with a specific program to be used as the default program to open that type of file. It's possible the file you are trying to open is incorrectly associated as being an executable file and Windows is trying to open the file as if it were an executable file. Check the file association settings for the file you are trying to open and are receiving this error message. If necessary, you can modify the file association settings, to properly associate the file with a program that can open that file.

It is also possible that a virus or malware infection on your computer has caused Windows to incorrectly think that some file types are executable programs. You may need to run a virus and malware scan on your computer to determine if this is a possible cause.

File is not designed for your version of Windows

If you're trying to run a program that is not designed for your version of Windows, you may get this error. Although many older programs designed to work in older versions of Windows will work with new versions of Windows, unfortunately, not all programs will work.

  • If the program is an older MS-DOS program or early Windows program, you may get this error.
  • If the program is designed for a 64-bit version of Windows and you're running it in a 32-bit version of Windows, it will not work and generate this error.

Getting old MS-DOS games to run in Windows.

File is a virus, worm, or other malware file

This error can be generated by a file that is a virus, worm, Trojan, or other malware file. Often, this will be caused because the virus scanner installed in the computer will not allow the file to be installed or run. Try scanning the file to verify it is not a virus or infected with a virus.

If the file passes a virus scan, it may be that other software is conflicting with the program. Try booting the computer into Safe Mode and then running the program again. Booting the computer into Safe Mode makes sure nothing is running in the background that could be causing this issue.

Hardware incompatibility

If you're getting this error during the installation of a program, it's also possible that the drive you're installing the program from (or its drivers) is not compatible with Windows.

Download the latest drivers for both CD-ROM drives or other drives through our drivers page.

Additional information

  • See our Win32 page for more information and related links.