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What is a DLL file?

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What is a DLL file?

Dynamic Link Libraries (DLL)s are like EXEs but they are not directly executable. They are similar to .so files in Linux/Unix. That is to say, DLLs are MS’s implementation of shared libraries. Quoting from Microsoft’s Support site:

A DLL is a library that contains code and data that can be used by more than one program at the same time. For example, in Windows operating systems, the Comdlg32 DLL performs common dialog box related functions. Therefore, each program can use the functionality that is contained in this DLL to implement an Open dialog box. This helps promote code reuse and efficient memory usage.

DLLs are so much like an EXE that the file format itself is the same. Both EXE and DLLs are based on the Portable Executable (PE) file format. DLLs can also contain COM components and .NET libraries.

What does a DLL contain?

A DLL contains functions, classes, variables, UIs and resources (such as icons, images, files, …) that an EXE, or other DLL uses.

Types of libraries:

On virtually all operating systems, there are 2 types of libraries. Static libraries and dynamic libraries. In windows the file extensions are as follows: Static libraries (.lib) and dynamic libraries (.dll). The main difference is that static libraries are linked to the executable at compile time; whereas dynamic linked libraries are not linked until run-time.

More on static and dynamic libraries:

You don’t normally see static libraries though on your computer because a static library is embedded directly inside of a module (EXE or DLL). A dynamic library is a stand-alone file.

A DLL can be changed at any time and is only loaded at runtime when an EXE explicitly loads the DLL. A static library cannot be changed once it is compiled within the EXE. A DLL can be updated individually without updating the EXE itself.

Extra Reading
How dll’s Works? – PC Error-Fix

Source StackOverflow Microsoft
  1. Sayan says

    Very nice article…
    Liked it
    From your student SAYAN

    But you would have given about how to open it.

    1. Animesh Shaw says

      Thank you. No Need to write “From your student SAYAN” simply comment. So you want to peek into the dll files. I will create a tutorial about it soon.

  2. A S Srinivas says

    Thank you so much sir.

    1. Animesh Shaw says

      Thank you. Share it across your social networks and other posts as well. No Need to write “From your student …” I removed it.

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