Delete System 32 – Do Not Try This At Home

Ah, delete system32: the classic internet joke that some malicious individuals used to terrorize unsuspecting PC owners in the mid-2000s. But how did they get noobs to commit a travesty that’s akin to yanking one’s own medulla oblongata from their noggin? Well, ever asked for help from a tech bro who thinks they’re cooler than God just because they understand how a logic-based system works?

Let’s just say novice computer users learned the hard way that perhaps it’s not best to go asking for advice from the guys you terrorized in high school because they were into computers and not sports and other stuff that most adolescents are into. Yeah, “delete system 32” was some sort of joke by geeks, playing on computer novices who went online asking for help to speed up their new gadgets.

Delete System 32 Prank

And how did the trolls manage to pull off such a prank? Well, they told people lies, mainly that Microsoft was using the system32 folder to collect garbage and viruses on computers, deliberately making them slower so people could purchase cleaning tools that Microsoft owned. And those who didn’t know that system 32 is an important system file needed by Windows to function properly fell for the hoax that deleting this one pesky folder on their hard drives could speed up their Windows and also get back at the big bad corporation. But really, it was just some trolls looking to hurt people. Wow, just wow!

Anyway, more people are aware now that this is a trolling scam. However, many new computer owners at the time suffered greatly since they didn’t truly understand the new technology. Here we look at everything you need to know about system 32, its purpose, how your computer will behave if you manage to delete this folder and how to avoid falling for online hoaxes about your PC.

What is Windows System 32?

System32 is a folder found in the Windows directory on any drive you boot your Windows from. Every Windows version built on the NT architecture has it. It’s usually located at C:\Windows\System32. The folder houses crucial operating system files that Windows needs to run well. If you try to delete it, even partially, your operating system will become corrupt. Windows must be reinstalled, or you must repair it from an image store. Suggestions to do so are typically hoaxes and should be absolutely ignored.

The System32 folder was first introduced in Windows 2000 as an addition to the original System folder that came with earlier versions of Windows to store certain 32-bit applications and libraries, hence its name. In a similar vein, the Program Files folder contains an additional extension called Program Files (x86) to house 32-bit program libraries.

Ever since 64-bit versions of Windows were released, System32 utilization has evolved. Any new desktop or laptop you buy today likely runs a 64-bit version of Windows. These new OS versions continue to store essential system files in the System32 directory. If you’re wondering why it’s not called “System64” in the new versions of Windows, it’s because software developers continued to use the System32 folder even after recompiling their 32-bit programs to run on the 64-bit architecture.

After all, the directory’s name was hard-coded into the programs. Microsoft left the System32 folder in its original state to avoid compatibility difficulties, and it gradually evolved into a system-wide repository for 64-bit libraries.

The 32-bit programs that were not recompiled were still allowed to run on 64-bit versions of Windows because Microsoft developed a new subsystem called Windows 32-bit on 64-bit (aka WoW64) and included it in every 64-bit edition of the OS. When a 32-bit program is installed on the computer, this subsystem automatically changes the storage location of certain program files. So, you may have already used this subsystem without realizing it.

Both System32 and System WoW64 are contained in the Windows directory and contain critical system files. However, if you’ve heard of Syswow64 at all, you probably don’t know much about it. As previously stated, despite the “64” in its name, it essentially stores 32-bit files via WoW64, a subsystem that transfers the source of 32-bit files that applications seek to System WoW64.

Windows System32

But what’s actually in these folders?

What does Sys32 do? In case you didn’t already know, Sys32 contains crucial OS files. When it comes down to it, Windows is really just a very large and intricate computer program. The program libraries are kept on your hard drive. Most of the files are located in the System32 directory.

Although it’s believed that Windows is the contents of the directory “C:\Windows,” this neglects some items in other directories like “C:\Program Files.” However, most files necessary for Windows’ operation are located in the System32 directory.

Although there are various sorts of files in this directory, DLLs, control panel applets, and exe files are the most common. DLLs are shared library files used by Windows applications (both utilities and third-party) to execute numerous operations.

On the other hand, the exe files are executable files for system processes such as CMD and rundll32. For instance, when you run Task Manager, Windows goes to the System32 directory to run the Taskmgr.exe program file.

Many other vital system files can also be found here. For instance, the SYS files related to system drivers, which an OS uses to communicate with computer hardware, are located in the C:\Windows\System32\Drivers subdirectory. Even on 64-bit OS releases, the System32 folder is still important because it still houses crucial system executables and files in 64-bit format.

Deleting System32

Even when you are operating “as administrator,” there is a strong likelihood that you can’t completely remove System32. You’ll discover that some of the libraries in the folder can’t be erased since they are in use by the OS itself and therefore locked.

Never remove System32, SysWoW64, or the parent directory of either of these folders from an active Windows installation. This can harm the operating system.

Booting into a different OS is the only false-proof way to remove System32 altogether. For example, you can boot from an external source or DVD. The folder and its libraries might then be accessible for deletion.

Once you’ve done that, your computer won’t be able to boot from the hard disk because you’ve just deleted like 90% of your OS.

The only ways to recover are to start again with a fresh installation of Windows or recover from a system image backup.

Blue Screen of Death Windows 10

Why did delete system 32 become an internet joke?

Deleting System32 is a well-known trolling tactic intended to trick naïve PC users into erasing the folder found in Windows and essentially killing their PC’s OS. Without the folder, Windows would not function properly on the PC.

The scam was started on the 4chan website by trolls looking to play practical jokes on gullible Windows users. They deceived beginners with many lies, including that System32 had Microsoft spyware that would gather user surfing information and unnecessarily slow down their PC. The hoax started while Microsoft was introducing the 32-bit version of its NT-based OS to the general public. Casual users and those with little computer knowledge frequently fell for it.

Midway through the 2000s, the trick gained popularity as a trolling technique. Instructions for batch files were provided to get around Windows’ standard cautions against such hazardous acts.

Though the plan lost its usefulness as more users learned about it, the meme-like idea of the prank has persisted throughout computer culture.

Today, it’s typical for new users to receive advice such as “Delete System32, and your PC will run much faster” or that it’s a means to retaliate against Microsoft. You’ll come across messages like this:

College Computer Lab

It is a hoax!

As already stated, why someone would even think of doing this is mind-boggling. It’s like choosing to rip out your medulla oblongata or the engine from a running vehicle; the effects won’t be pretty. Due to the critical nature of the directory, there are measures that prevent users from messing around with its contents and properties.

If your operating system contains a virus, deleting System32 is not the way. It’s like using a grenade to eliminate a rat problem in your house. I mean, that’s where thinking outside the box becomes a joke. Nevertheless, the modern world and false information cause some people to fall for the scam. It’s similar to how some individuals don’t think a fire burns until they really put their hands in it.

What happens if you delete the folder?

Can you actually delete the folder? When you attempt to delete the folder normally in all versions of the NT-based OS, a “Folder Access Denied” warning will prevent you from doing so. However, if you’re determined, you can get around the safeguards and see what happens. As previously mentioned, numerous batch file methods exist to delete System32.

If you can begin deleting the folder, your OS will crash after only a few files have been deleted. Then, nothing will happen if you try to access the Start menu and press the power button. And if you try to use the Task Manager, you will be alerted that it is no longer available. When you try other menu options, you’ll also encounter issues.

Additionally, you might not be able to shut down the machine normally, so you might have to restart it because that’s what everyone always says to do when the computer is not responding. But in this case, Windows will attempt to start in Automatic Repair, but if the repair files have already been destroyed, this will also be impossible.

Afterward, if you select “Advanced options” and instruct Windows to boot anyhow, it won’t. The computer will briefly display a black screen before restarting into automatic repair mode again. At this point, it’s obvious that crucial files necessary for Windows to start up are missing. Congratulations, you’ve broken your OS!

It should come as no surprise that deleting System32 will damage the OS. And there’s no satisfaction in it, especially if you do it while other applications are running. You’ll notice various operations simply start to fail, and then the OS crashes and won’t boot back up. And once more, the only solution is to reinstall Windows or recover from a system image.

If your OS fails because of missing or damaged files or you suspect a virus, try alternate options that don’t involve ripping out the computer’s “medulla oblongata.” You may, for instance, try running Windows Defender, a powerful antivirus tool. You can also use the cmd command sfc.exe/scannow to check for and replace missing or damaged files. Doing so will spare you the hustle and expense of having to buy a new OS.

Learn More About Using The Windows Command Prompt Tool

Windows System 32 Test

Other OSs

System32 is a Windows-only file system, but there are other methods for tricking users of other OSs into damaging them. Trolls frequently instruct users of Macs and Linux systems to launch their terminal and type commands like “sudo rm -rf/*,” erasing hard drive contents.

Since 2010, another trolling method involving Ubuntu users has been posted on the 4chan/g/(technology) forum. The program dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M, is frequently shared by trolls. Trolls frequently assure that doing so will aid in defragmenting hard disks, enhancing firewalls, and fixing drivers. Surprise, surprise, it’s another hard disk wiping hoax.

Authentic deletion

Of course, there is a proper way to delete System32, and that is when you don’t want your Windows installation anymore, especially if you want to get rid of a broken Windows system. There are various ways to delete system32 if you really want to do it. Here’s a look:

Method 1: Making use of a batch file

Follow these instructions to erase System32 libraries quickly.

  • On your computer, navigate to System32, usually at C:\Windows\System32.
  • You must now copy the exact path of the file you want to delete from System32. You may easily do this by right-clicking on the file and selecting Properties. Navigate to the General tab, then copy the file path.
  • Now run Notepad. Simply hit the Windows key and input ‘Notepad.’
  • In the opened Notepad, type cd, then paste the location you’ve just copied. Ensure that the location is typed in quotes. Afterward, hit Enter and type del on the next line.
  • After typing del, press enter, then input the name of the file you wish to remove from the System32 directory. Make sure to include any extensions that appear in the library name. In this instance, we are trying to remove AppLocker, so that’s what you input.
  • The file can now be saved with any name by clicking the File button (top left corner) and choosing Save As. But be careful to follow the name with a.bat extension. For example, you can save it as AppLocker.bat. Once finished, click “Save.”
  • Now, navigate to where the file is saved and double-click it. This will eliminate the AppLocker file from your System32 library.

Method 2: Take Ownership of the File

Using this technique, you can quickly remove the System32 directory and some of the files inside it by gaining administrative rights.

● Hit the Windows key and enter cmd, then select Run as Administrator.

● In the cmd prompt window, enter the command takeown /f C:\Windows\System32

● This will grant you ownership of the System32 directory.

● To delete the folder, type the following command in the CMD prompt window: cacls C:\Windows\System32

● Close all open windows on your laptop, including the command prompt.

● Find the System32 directory on the C drive. Now you can delete individual files in the library.

Method 3: Obtain File Permissions Using TrustedInstaller

If the previous technique did not work, you probably got the error message “You do not have permission to perform this action,” then you need to use TrustedInstaller to gain this permission.

● Search the C drive for the System32 directory. It’s usually at C:\Windows\System32.

● Now, right-click on the folder and go to properties.

● In the properties, click on the security tab and then “Advanced.”

● A dialog box will show up with the option “Change” next to TrustedInstaller. Just click it.

● You must now type your PC’s username where it says ‘Enter the object name to select.’

● Check if your PC’s username exists by clicking “Check Names.” If your username is available, click Ok.

● Return to the Security section, choose the username you chose earlier under Groups or Username and then click OK.

● In the end, you ought to be able to remove the System32 directory or individual files.

There are lots of hoaxes out there aiming to get inexperienced computer users into trouble. Watch out! Hopefully, this guide serves as an educational piece on the importance of the System32 folder in Windows and why you shouldn’t mess with it unless you truly want to change your OS.