Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Why does my System32 folder open when I log in?

Why does my System32 folder open when I log in?

As I discussed in a previous
, a lot can happen when you start up or login to Windows.
Some of it you want, some of it you don’t, and some of it you don’t
even know about unless you go looking. But every once in a while
we come across the strange, unexpected, or bizarre. Several people
reported that the system32 folder would open automatically when they
logged in. They’d close it and everything seemed fine.

A minor annoyance, or a symptom of a more serious issue?

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

As it turns out, Microsoft even has a knowledgebase article
on the scenario here. It describes how
an improper registry setting can cause the problem and one way
of dealing with the issue – editing the registry entry directly.

In many cases the solution is actually just a little bit easier.
Run msconfig or autoruns (both described in
this article) and look for a
startup entry that matches that described in the knowledgebase article – that’s
likely the cause of the problem. Do your best to make sure that it’s
not something important, certainly save the text somewhere (copy/paste
it to a text file or even write it down), delete it and you should be

Of course the next question is how did it get there? Since things
that happen at startup time are usually created by setup programs it’s
certainly possible that a poorly written setup program could have had a
problem and left an incomplete or corrupt entry. If you’ve installed
or tried to install anything recently and the problem began then, then that’s a likely

The other scenario is one we’ve been hearing much about lately: a virus.
The viruses that have been making the news are all fairly sophisticated
and apparently well written. But of course not all of them are. It’s quite possible
that a problematic virus either has infected or has tried to infect your machine.
Viruses also like to make things happen at start-up. If they have a problem when writing that startup-entry then this type of problem can result.

The advice? You’ve heard it before:

  • Get a good anti-virus package

  • Make sure the virus signatures are up to date

  • Scan for viruses on a regular basis

  • Don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know

  • Have a good firewall solution in place

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

94 comments on “Why does my System32 folder open when I log in?”

  1. I recently had the same problem when booting up my new Dell Dimension 8300. The System 32 folder opened every time and for every user on the computer at start up. I asked Dell Support about this issue and this is the answer I received:
    Uncheck /l:eng in the startup list:
    1. Click Start, Run
    2. Type “msconfig”
    3. Click on the startup tab
    4. Uncheck /l:eng
    5. Click Apply, Close, Restart.

    This is added to startup by changes made to the settings in the
    SB Audigy 2 Card software.

    It did solve the issue. Hope this information helps someone in the future.

    Regards, Brady

  2. Each time I try to shut down, I get the message wapisvsu.exe not responding. How do I set right this error. I also get an error message which says launch not responding. Please help.


  3. This definitely seems to be a Dell problem. I recently purchased a new Dimension 4600 with the Audigy 2 sound card and yep, the System32 folder keeps popping up on boot. The weird thing is that if I revert to the original system restore point, it will go for a number of days without happening – but always comes back eventually. I’m gonna try to resolve it once and for all with Brady’s advice – so a big thankyou there!

  4. I have a Gateway and have started having the same problem. Any other ideas? These did not work. Also, How can I get the system to skip the windows login screen?

  5. I have a new Dell and I keep getting the system32 folder on startup. I have tried every fix I can find on the Internet and none of them work – it still pops up. I do not have an audigy2 card and cannot find any /l:ger or /l:eng. I also have startup organizer installed and it says everything is OK. Help, this is driving me crazy.

  6. I have looked through msconfig and the only startup item that I cant identify is maxembfz c:\windows\eutixdkb.exe. the system 32 folder is still popping up. I have Ad-Aware and Spybot, could these cause the popup.

  7. That item looks REALLY REALLY suspicious. It looks more like the remnants of a virus. Have you run a virus scan lately? My suggestion: disable it in msconfig. IF system32 stops popping up, you have your culprit. Either way, check msconfig again … if it came back (or something very much like it), you probably have a virus.

    And no, I’ve not heard of AdAware or Spybot *causing* this problem. They both are really good at *resolving* problems (though obviously not this one :-).

  8. thanks for your help. However, I disabled maxembfz and I ran a new virus scan. No virus and the system32 is still there. What do you suggest now. I think I have tried everything!

  9. Following my earlier posting (11/05/04) – I did indeed find the /l:eng entry listed as a startup item in msconfig. It was the last check box on the list and clearing it has since resolved the problem. I now realise that saying that will probably prompt its return, but it worked for me. I hope the rest of you guys can sort it, although I’m convince its more annoying than serious.

  10. I have the same exact problem. My system32 opens on startup and I have a Gateway. I got this problem right after I received one of the aim profile viruses… but even after I removed the profile virus, I still am having this problem.

  11. Just wanted to say thanks to Brady I also have a Dell 8300 that started showing the System32 page. I followed Brady’s notes and it worked like a dream no more annoying System32 pop ups.

  12. I got rid off this problem using msconfig and deaktivating the startup strings containing: “”
    It was not enough to deaktivate the “l/eng” entry.

    I also tried using the above mentioned MS article, that described the changes in the registry database (remove any incomplete strings) that should solve the problem, but this did not work

    Hope this is usefull.

  13. I also have the system32 problem. However my system32 window would open not only on the startup, but also whenever Internet Explorer is opened. I have ran AVG, AdAware, & Spybot Search & Destroy. Machine is all clean. I can go in msconfig and alter the startup. Then when I reboot the machine, the system32 window does not show up. But once I open the Internet Explorer window, it pops up and is completely back again showing up when the computer is turned on and when IE is opened. Could you please tell me where to fix whatever is running when IE opens?
    Thank you,

  14. Your instrutions were perfect.
    It’s so easy now to fix it but I would’ve never figured it out on my own.

    Thank you so much.

  15. I tried all the suggestions in the KB article as well as what you’ve said here about trying to fix it in msconfig. I find nothing that shows values “” or with any missing “. My System 32 folder opens on login and when I open IE. Many times it will open itself 2 -3 times consecutively before it quits. Any ideas? Thanks.

  16. For some reason in msconfig under the “Startup” tab, there was a line for the system32 folder to open. This was on a computer that I was repairing for a client. It only happened in 2 of the 8 accounts on the computer so I would have to assume that some piece of software puts it there. If it were hardware alone, all accounts share the same hardware so all accounts would have had the system32 folder opening.

    Another spot to check is in the Documents and Settings folder for the particular user, look the Start Menu\Programs\Startup folder and see what you have in there.

    There are only so many locations where a startup program can hide itself.

    It could always ( but unlikely ) be malware that is loaded when you login and then it opens the folder. In that case, you’d have to track down the malware to get it to stop.


  17. “In many cases the solution is actually just a little bit easier. Run msconfig, or autoruns (both described in this article), and look for a startup entry that matches that described in the knowledgebase article – that’s likely the cause of the problem.”

    — I have no way of knowing which to disable, because the Startup list is in a window I cannot make larger, and all the listings end at “Current Ver.” What do I do next? Thanks.

    Also, this started happening when my AOL Spyware told me it was disabling some things. I wonder if I should enable them again and see what happens.

  18. Addition to my previous post —

    In msconfig-Startup, the entries in the 2nd column — Command — also all end with “…”, so I don’t know which of them are going to system32. Two of them end with “system…”: NeroCheck and ctfmon. There is also one line that has no entry in the Command column.

  19. I had the same issue with my machine. Actually, alot of issues at once, including: no icons, direct or shortcut would initialize a program, random restarts, hanging at shut down sometimes, crashes in Mozilla, Yahoo mail refusing to send email. At first I thought I had a boot virus. Found nothing with virus scans etc. The one main change I made prior, was installing Nero6 and attempting to install Nero6 ultra. Failure to initialize- fixed with a reboot except of course, Creative Audigy 2–had to reinstall Media Source. The rest of the problems went away when I unistalled Nero6 and InCD and, used every cleaner tool I could get from Nero plus RegCleaner. In msconfig, Startup, I unchecked InCD and NeroCheck (still there after everything I did) which means in General tab I have to keep it on Selective Startup. Last night I still had the hanging shut down but tonight I have been overclocking, changing RAM timings, etc. … many restarts and shut downs and no problems. Oh, and I fixed Yahoo when I installed an updated version of Mozilla. I’m wondering if a FixMBR would be in order ’cause at one point on the General tab of msconfig, I had the choice of ‘Original MBR’ or ‘Modified MBR’, I chose original and the other option has remained greyed out. Well, if things remain stable I’ll just leave it…..besides maybe a XP repair would be the way to go…..or maybe I should just stop messing with it!

  20. Neil: the columns are resizable. If you click, hold and drag the vertical bar you see between the column headers, you can make columns wider and narrower. It’s silly that the whole thing isn’t resizable, but this at least will let you see the data. Alternately, use a different tool like “autoruns” from

  21. Hello,
    I have a hp pavillion ze4900 laptop. I guess it is not only Dell computers that are experiencing the System32 folder, opening after login. I do not know what to do. The only thing that I do is close the folder. But it is annoying to see this folder open. I am still learning about the computer, so this is frightens me. Because, there is no iformation telling me what to do. By the way this folder started to appear three days ago. However, I am also searching on the web to try an resolve this dilema. Thank you

  22. leo ive read your article on this.system 32 started popping up on my computer back in oct.i read an article from microsoft,saying try starting your computer on diagnostic startup.i did this and system 32 didnt pop i know its something in that startup list causing this. the only problem is when you startup computer after checking some of these things on startup list off another popup comes on screen saying youve started up in diag either way im going to have to click something off when computer starts up.just dont understand why this started in first place.

  23. From Leo’s article I realised that my System 32 folder was opening due to a bad command, from something I’d downloaded.

    Rather than risk possibly deleting a vital file I simply went to “System Restore” (using Windows XP that’s in Programs – Accessories – System Tools)

    Choosing to restore to a date before my download, Bingo – no more System 32 folder opening!!!

  24. Why all the comments. Surely if you have an IQ above room temp. you can figure out that NO ONE wants SYSTEM32 to show up on there screen. So, in black and white give the steps on how to DELETE it. Or just send the steps to me and I will send it to the millions that HATE for it to show up.

  25. I read Microsoft articles.After reading their article,I didn’t want to mess with the registry.
    I bought a registry cleaner. Did not help. Any think you can suggest beside a wise crack?

  26. I have been having the same problem, but the solution that is going around for the same problems don’t work (ie. The blank value in the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run or HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run)
    I just installed Netscape 8.1, and when I tried a system restore, it did fix it, but Netscape 8.1 was removed. Is there any way to keep both? The only other oddity is that there is a startup entry in MSCONFIG, but it has no name and it links to the second entry in my example. Any ideas?

  27. Thanks for all your help Leo , as I have read on this thread , it truly does get frustrating for many of us. IM sure you can understand that. No offence meant to you or others.After 9 years of good service I just retired my P2 333 and purchases a P4 3.00 from Dell , IM very pleased but IM also very nervous about it as well (I think that’s why I had my P2 for 9 years) I really don’t know that much about Windows after all these years …a very little if any,but what I do do is try and maintain my PC with all the protection I can get and just run all the utilities as often as needed (I like the Internet) and that’s basically why I got the new PC.I was dial up for all those years as well and got dsl with my new machine. Wow !! what a treat this truly is !! Anyway …back to the System 32 thing , I tried to download a older web cam and this is when the problem started (just as microsoft stated) as I said ,i really don’t know that much and i don’t like doing anything IM not 99.9% sure of, trust me ,IM not going to mess with my regestry !! Dell support sent me this for the problem has something to do with the onboard Audigy ,it might help somebody else ,it didn’t help me )-: So as others have done run msconfig /startup / and uncheck the ones with “” and that took care of my problem ,no more system 32 at start up. IM guessing in the future I’ll figure what it all was that shut off in the first place ? IM guessing here that the system 32 at start up was really not that big of a deal in the first place , just annoying as all hell ,my hard drive above my shoulders was just not computing very well with it, like it seems to do for others. Leo ,thanks again for doing what you do and helping guys out like me. IM very Impressed. Jim

  28. I logged in about 6 months ago when I started having this annoying problem. My system 32 launches 2-3 times when logging into windows and then does it again for 5-6 times when launching Internet Explorer. I too looked at the registry and did not find the problem mentioned in all the articles. I’ve also cleaned out the startup in msconfig but it keeps coming back. I agree with the rest. Could we just have some simple steps to follow? Knowledge base articles can be quite lengthy.

  29. To correct this problem the easiest way is to insert your system restore disc that came with your computer when you purchased it, shut down the computer and then restart it. The system restore will automatically start. Have it reinstall ONLY the .dll files. The system32 window will come on at startup if a .dll file is infected or corrupt. By reinstalling all of the files your system will run as it used to.

  30. HELP !!!I was trying to fix this system 32 thing- I followed some instructions on putting my comp in safe mode and now It will not start. I am seeing something weird about it being out of range???

  31. I found another solution to preventing the System32 window from popping up at startup. I saw all the advice to check the registry for bad entries and noticed that in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Run my “(Default)” entry had a value of “C:\WINDOWS\System32\”. I set this value to “(value not set)” (without the quotation marks) as I noticed was the case with all other (Default) entries:

    right-click on “(Default)”, select “Modify” and replace the text in the “Value Data” text box with “(value not set)”

    I have not had the problem with the System32 folder popping up since. Hopefully this will help those who couldn’t get other solutions to work for them.

  32. I tried regedit, msconfig, and removed all startup values. EVERYTHING. The darn thing still opens the system32 folder on startup. I ran several anti-virus programs including windows defender and they find nothing. WHAT IS CAUSING THIS?

  33. I got me a bug the other day if you’re not getting popups for spyware removal you may not have the same problem but look for a little nugget called atmclk in your system32 folder. if it’s there goggle atmclk to find a number of recommendations on removing this and the trojan that’s infected your box. ps it also hijacks your
    browser homepage.

  34. After trying a number of things to remove this troublesome issue I finally found a solution that worked for me. I used the Autoruns utility ( to scan the system, under the logon tab there was a registry setting (HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\Run under it there was an Entry ‘kernel32.dll’ with an image path of ‘c:\windows\system32\’. I unticked this and rebooted the system and the problem had disappeared. If this solves the problem then go back into Autoruns Utility and delete it.

    Hope it helps it took me ages to find a solution that works. If this works for you, please post a response!

  35. Your system32 folder article combined with the Autoruns program helped me solve that pesky problem that appeared on a Toshiba laptop after removing some nasties with Spybot S&D. No viruses found and Kelly’s solution didn’t work because the Registry entry referenced by the vb script didn’t exist. Using Autoruns, I discovered a Registry entry that prompted Explorer to open the system32 folder. The Registry entry reported by Autoruns showed a kernel32.dll folder with the descriiption:
    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\explorer\Run-kernel32.dll with an image path of c:\Windows\system32\
    De-selecting this entry stopped the system32 folder from appearing at boot.

    Many thanks for the tip.
    Peter Follert

  36. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I’ve been working on that system32 folder problem for 2 days! Your “trick” worked for me, too. My procedure was exactly like Dstroyr, “Using Autoruns, I discovered a Registry entry that prompted Explorer to open the system32 folder. The Registry entry reported by Autoruns showed a kernel32.dll folder with the descriiption:
    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\explorer\Run-kernel32.dll with an image path of c:\Windows\system32\
    De-selecting this entry stopped the system32 folder from appearing at boot.”
    Thank you again!

  37. Thanks Dstroyr, you nailed that one for me. I started with the MS article which of course didn’t solve the problem (they rarely do) but came across your post after poking around a bit more. The whole problem started when I picked up the bug. Got it cleaned up but it left the System32 folder problem.
    Thanks Again!

  38. thanks go to Dstroyr for your version:

    Policies\Explorer\Run under it there was an Entry ‘kernel32.dll’

    Fixed. Ta.

  39. Well, I’m amazed.. I manually fixed over 150 registry entries and still had the System32 folder problem. then I read “HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\explorer\Run-kernel32.dll with an image path of c:\Windows\system32\”, went into the registry and found it and voila! system32 no longer opens at Login or logon, if you prefer. By the way, I got the Zlob trojan disguised as a codec for Windows Media Player. I’ll not be so naive again.

  40. Thanks Leo: worked for me too….got rid of the system32 folder from my startup menu by deleting kernel32.dll folder…Lew, Pagosa Springs, CO

  41. Well…..I’m having the same problem with the sys32 folder appearing, however none of the stated ‘fixes’ were applicable. I didn’t find the file “HKLM………policies/explorer/run” with autorun. I even tried doing it directly into the registry but didn’t find any kernel32.dll files there either. Any suggestions?

  42. Thanks Destroyr. The Autoruns program fixed my problem concerning the kernel32 dll file. After unchecking the kernel with Autoruns I manually removed the entry from the registry as well. Everythingloads fine now!

    I’ll comment to Sysinternals for the program.

    I was getting irritated.

  43. I also have system 32 page opening on startup but my big problem is when I try to print from aol web page I get a system 32 error and says can’t read script.
    any ideas

  44. thanks alot every one here your comments help my to solve this problem, i as everyone get it from Zlob as a codec so be careful

  45. After I read this article i checked out msconfig/startup and i noticed that there were 2 no names under the command column. I also looked to see if the system32 folder would show up on the other user on my computer and it did not show up. So I looked at that user’s msconfig/startup and it did not have the nonames under the command column and I went back and unchecked them and it fixed the problem. I still dont know how those startup items got there.

  46. Thanks Leo,

    This totally fixed my problem. The Microsoft article helped none at all. I consider myself pretty familiar with the registry, but the KB Article was not very clear.

    The suggestion to check Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\Run
    Was absolutly brilliant.

    I was also infected with Zlob.downloader with a codec so that I could play Firefly DVD in Windows Media Player.

    Mcafee cleaned part of it and Spyware blaster pulverized the rest.

    You helped me rid the remainder 2 weeks after the fact.

    Thanks so much,


  47. I’ve also had the same problem with the C:\WINDOWS\system32 folder openning on startup. The solution has been mentionned above but i’ll just mention it again just to be perfectly clear. There as far as I know are two solutions to the problem, one is addressed by the Microsoft Knowledge Base Article:

    System32 Folder Opens When Logging on to Windows XP, Windows 2000, or Windows NT 4.0

    Article ID: 170086

    Unfortunately it didn’t work for me, so this is what I did, I went into regedit and searched for kernel32.dll

    There may be many different finds, so look for one that contains a value of C:\Windows\system32

    Alas I did find one in this location:


    I deleted it and so the problem was resolved.


  48. for me the fix was to add an entry to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run.
    The entry is SystemTray, REG_SZ, SysTray.exe. I noticed in the Microsoft knowledgebase article that the SystemTray entry was the ONLY required entry, and I didn’t have it. Put it in, and no system32 folder.

  49. Hi I has same problem with system32 issue come up when I log in?
    Please can you give a clear detial how to remove the issue from window and future log in without system32 issue appears?



  50. OK, I wasted hours on this problem although I already had the fix. My problem was that there were 2 processes in msconfig Startup. One was from MS Office and the other one some “quiet” process. My mistake was that I restored MSconfig to Normal Startup again after restart so, it kept loading the processes. However, I needed to leave “Selective Startup” and just uncheck the message that kept telling me I made changes to the Sytems Conifguration Utility!

  51. Hi, i`m having the same problem, trying to fix it but to no avail, can u please help me out because the registry path you specify does not appear in my registry.

    Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.


  52. hi,
    same problem started before a couple of days in my hp notebook..then as mentioned in this article, i ran msconfig and unchecked the process which was simply denoted by “”. and the problem was solved. But here i would like to mention that the same thing happened yesterday in my office desktop. When i thought about it, the only new thing that i did was install “FIREFOX” browser at about the same time in both computers. Does this have anything to do with the problem???

  53. I will try the suggested changes after my next restart, the only thing that was added or downloaded was an Adobe Reader update to 7. FYI

  54. Hi Leo.

    The System32 folder keeps continuously popping up when I start up my machine. I’ve tried the msconfig advice but it keeps happening. I’m starting to think it’s virus related as it happened after I got rid of one(or at least, think I got rid of one). I’ve scanned for viruses with AVG, and used Spybot too but no luck. Nothing else pops up when System32 does, however I had a look in the folder and there’s folders with nothing in them and other suspicious looking items, with names like “CatRoot” inside it. I’m not THAT savvy with computers, and am hesitant to start just poking around the intricities of my machine, but everywhere else that offers help either is a bit too confusing, or doesn’t fit my problem. Please, any advice or help in sorting this out would be terrific.

    Regards, James.

  55. hi i am having the same problem and i had restored my computer to a previous date and that fixed it but i just installed a update and its back again and it messes with my game Command and Conquer 3 so that when i try to run it my computer restarts upon restart i get a windows error message and it contains


    i was reading some of your other topics on the MSCONFIG but i dont get exactly wat i should do do these files need to be tweaked

  56. instead of system32 folder popping up, the my computer folder keeps popping up for me everytime i start my computer. What do i have to do?

  57. hai, try at HKEY_CURRENT_USER – Software – Microsoft – Windows – CurrentVersion – Run
    see at right the name Yahoo Massengger, Type REG_SZ data C:\WINDOWS\sistem32. Delete the data entry (C:\WINDOWS\sistem32). u can try to solve the problem.

  58. hai, try at HKEY_CURRENT_USER – Software – Microsoft – Windows – CurrentVersion – Run
    see at right the name Yahoo Massengger, Type REG_SZ data C:\WINDOWS\sistem32. Delete the data entry (C:\WINDOWS\sistem32), click Yahoo Massengger, Edit > Modify > delete C:\WINDOWS\sistem32 entry. u can try to solve the problem.

  59. i m gatting machine basically i boot open the system 32 trying to scanning sys., reg clean, but same prob.

  60. go to start – run – type msconfig – select the startup tab – disable the /L:ENG then restart. that should clear it up

  61. Thanks for the article! I recently installed SAMSUNG LCD monitor, it has an app called MutiScreen which had created a blank entry in the registry. Just deleted the entry and everything is fine now.

  62. I think the cause of my System32 folder popping up on startup is the /L:ENG thingy, described by cornbread in the replies (thanks a lot!). I’d just DBAN’d my hard-drive and installed everything fresh… then found was getting this System32 folder popup! Now ok after discovering the issue, as I do have the Sound Blaster Augigy 2 sound card installed.

    Quote re /L:ENG = “Related to the Dell OEM version of the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 sound card. If this item is listed and checked in startup, the System32 Folder will appear on every startup.”

  63. Have run 3 Registry programs, tryed every solution that anyone suggests, had HP direct connect to my PC, and System32 STILL opens upon Startup. Have read auguments both for and against deleting file.

  64. My solution to the System32 opening on Startup –
    I eliminated most of the files in the Startup Folder. Can’t say which was the culpit cause I did 5 without checking after each. I run XP Professional SP 3, on a HP Media Center m7330n.
    Hope this helps someone else.

  65. System folder 32 opens when logging in.
    Typed msconfig in run, went to startup tab,
    and found an entry -schedule. Cleared the check
    mark for -schedule and the problem was solved.
    Like the “” marks, maybe the registery doesn’t like – marks either.

  66. I had the same problem. I noticed that it started right after I installed my Sound Blaster software. The way I fixed it was by deleting the value:


    Value Name: SB Audigy 2 Startup Menu

    Value data: /L:ENG


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.