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Explanation of the 64-bit Sysnative folder in Windows

Explanation of the Sysnative folder in Windows 64-bit 1

With the release of 64-bit Windows 7, a small change was made to the normal mapping of folders in the Windows directory. Two new folders are included in the 64-bit edition of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10. They are Synative files and SysWOW64 . This only happens on 64-bit Windows. If you are running 32-bit Windows on a 64-bit machine, you will not see them. You also won’t see them when you’re running 32-bit Windows on a 32-bit machine.

There is another folder outside the Windows directory and it is called Program files (x86) . We are familiar with the name of the Program Files folder that contains the executables of our programs. On 64-bit systems, 64-bit programs are stored in the Program Files folder, while 32-bit programs are stored in Program Files (x86). However, Windows uses something like emulation to run 32-bit programs on a 64-bit computer. Therefore, you need to know and understand which are the system folders in Windows (64 bits) so that you know how to get to the desired file.

Unlike 32-bit machines, where 32-bit DLLs are stored in the folder System32 , the 64-bit version of Windows stores 64-bit related DLLs in the System32 folder. This is to make programming easier and to provide reverse compatibility. That is, if a 64-bit program refers to System32 in its code, it will automatically receive the 64-bit DLL when called. This helps developers because they don’t have to change the code in their 64-bit Windows programs.

In short, Windows has moved all 32-bit DLLs from the System32 folder in the Windows directory to another folder, so you don’t need to recode the above programs to get the appropriate DLLs even when using APIs. after updating to 64 bits. The problem occurs when a 32-bit application tries to access the System32 folder. In this case, the program will crash because it is not written to handle 64-bit DLLs.

SysWOW64 file on 64-bit Windows

All 32-bit DLLs have been moved to the new one SysWOW64 file on the 64-bit version of Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10, so when 32-bit programs call 32-bit DLLs, they need to get to the SysWOW64 folder.

You may feel that developers will need to scan their programs and applications to point to DLL functions to the SysWOW64 folder. But Microsoft has already done that. If you are a 32-bit program C: Windows System32 , an emulator will redirect the path to C: Windows SysWOW64 . That is, to run 32-bit programs on 64-bit Windows, an emulator is used, for proper backward compatibility and to avoid errors when calling DLL files.

Systematic folder in 64-bit Windows

There may be cases where a 32-bit program or application may need a 64-bit DLL. In this case, you will need to use the forwarding folder Sisativ . You can consider SysNative as a virtual folder and an alias that indicates the System32 folder. There is no physical in your system as such. So if your 32-bit program needs to access a 64-bit DLL, don’t use it C: Windows System32 because the 32-bit program emulator will take you to the 32-bit DLL folder called SysWOW64. Instead, use it C: Windows SysNative as a path to the DLL program. Using Sysnative on the way will redirect you to the System32 folder instead of the SysWOW64 folder.

If you open Windows File Explorer, you will not find the Sysnative folder in C: Windows. Even if you set Folder Options to show hidden and system folders. This is because Windows File Explorer is a 64-bit program that runs on 64-bit Windows, and the Sysnative folder is only visible and accessible from 32-bit programs.

In conclusion:

  1. System32 folders contain 64-bit DLL files.

  2. SysWOW64 contains 32-bit DLL files, and 32-bit programs are automatically redirected to this folder

  3. .

  4. Sysnative is a forwarding folder that allows 32-bit programs to call 64-bit DLLs.

Additional readings: MSDN.

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