What happens if you delete the System32 folder on Windows?

What happens if you delete System32

Typically, you wouldn’t get the idea of deleting such an important folder unless you’re told to do so by someone who’s trying to prank you. Someone might try to convince you to delete it, saying things like doing so enables a secret function or gives you the upper hand in certain games. Whatever the case may be, it’s nothing but a lie.

System32 contains all the integral files of Windows, so much so, that you could even say that it is Windows. Without it, your computer won’t be able to boot to Windows. In this article, we’ll elaborate on “What happens if you delete System32”.

What is the System32 Folder?

What exactly is the System32 Folder?

It’s quite obvious that it’s found all versions of Windows, including the latest one that is Windows 10. It’s the file that contains all the essential files needed for an Operating System. So, in short, it allows your PC to function properly, and do what it’s meant to do. You’ll find files ending with DLL and EXE, and if you know just a little about computers, you’ll know that they’re important. 

DLL, short for Dynamic Link Library function as shared library files for Windows programs including third-party programs (the ones you yourself install). EXE files are executable files used to launch games, and the ones in the System32 files are used to launch essential applications like Task Manager. 

You’ll also find SYS files related to hardware drivers that are utilized by your computer to “communicate” with its hardware. It doesn’t whether you’re using a 64-bit version, or a 32-bit version the System32 file is necessary for your system to boot, or function properly. You’ll even find Windows Registry files, so whatever happens, DO NOT delete this folder.

What Happens If you delete the System32 Folder:

People like to pull pranks, tricking people into pressing “ALT + F4” that closes your current tab, or in cases like these, it closes (or freezes) your game. Worst case scenario, your screen will freeze, and you’ll have to restart or use Task Manager to close the program. Anyways, coming back to the topic, people on the internet will try to convince you to delete the System32 folder as a “joke”. 

The joke costs a lot as deleting the System32 file will cause your computer to stop function properly, and it’ll fail to boot to Windows. Most of the time, people don’t fall for it since they’re aware of the integrity of the System32 folder, but some (typically kids, or those who don’t know anything about computers) can fall for this joke.

It’s actually quite hard to fall for, and the reason behind that is when you try to delete the folder, Windows won’t let you, and it’ll display a message that says “Folder Access Denied”, so you can’t delete it like you would any other folder.

How to delete System 32 Folder

As you can see in the image above, you’ll need permission from “TrustedInstaller” to delete this folder. If you manage to do that, Windows will still prevent you from deleting the System32 folder with a message that says: “The action can’t be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program”. That’s because the files in this folder are being used by your computer to run essential programs.

System 32 folder location

There is a way around that for those who do want to delete for some weird reason. It’s pretty difficult, so oftentimes, you won’t fall for the prank, but if you want to delete it, you can do so via Command Prompt. 

Using the “del” command, you can delete most of the files in the System32 folder, but it still won’t let you delete the files running in the background. The result of that action would be Windows failing to boot. Slowly, Windows will stop functioning properly, and soon, you won’t be able to boot into it.

Actions like opening the Start Menu, or pressing the power button won’t work. You can’t even use Task Manager as that’s also stored in the System32 folder that you just deleted (well, most of it). You’ll get errors similar to the ones in the image below:

window can't find System 32

There won’t be any way left to fix Windows, so the only fix would be to reinstall Windows entirely. 


So, you now know what happens if you delete the System32 folder on Windows. If you have any further queries or would like to add something to this article, do leave a comment down below!

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Andrew is a professional writer with 7+ Years of experience. His style and uniqueness inspire and educate readers throughout the world.

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Andrew is a professional writer with 7+ Years of experience. His style and uniqueness inspire and educate readers throughout the world.

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