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- WINDOWS 8
Something’s wrong with your computer. You just got a nasty error message, saying . . .
. . . and now you’re not sure what to do next. Fortunately, missing a userenv.dll file is not the end of the world – it’s just a broken link between a certain program and its resource file. In this case, the link that's been severed is that instruction that lets you get logged into a particular user account.
To fix the problem, you’ll need to work through a few steps to determine what may have started the issue and to figure out the best way to resolve it.
Finding the Problem
Normally an error with a .dll file, including the userenv.dll file requires a change. It doesn’t just happen suddenly – something causes the problem, and getting to the bottom of that means you’re that much closer to solving the problem.
Often installing new software can upset the balance of things behind the scenes for your computer. Have you installed anything new? Sometimes things get installed or downloaded and you’re not entirely aware of their purpose of even the process of the download. To check for what was most recently downloaded, you’ll want to go to . . .
» Control Panel
» and then Programs and Features
» Then click on the words Installed On at the top of the screen
. . . and you’ll see the most recent installations and downloads. One of these most recent programs may jog your memory about things that have been downloaded; or you may be surprised to see something downloaded that you weren’t aware of. If, for example, a program was installed yesterday and you’re noticing the error for the first time today, you’ll have a timeframe in which to work.
Reinstalling the Program
If you’ve installed a program that seems to be the problem, you can start by uninstalling and reinstalling the program to see if that will automatically correct the issue. Often this process will either re-register a given .dll file or simply re-create it. Highlight the name of the program in the list of Programs and Features. Then click on the Uninstall button that appears at the top of the window. Follow the steps to successfully uninstall the program.
Once the program has been uninstalled, you may check to see if the error you were getting is still showing up. If you’re not seeing the error and you don’t need to program you just uninstalled, there’s no need to go any further – you’ve solved your problem!
. . . But if you do need the program you just took off your machine, you’ll need to put it back. Go to the website for the program if you’re going to download it or insert the CD that the program came with. For example, if Google Chrome was uninstalled, you’ll need to download Google Chrome again to reinstall it. You’ll do this by searching for the program and downloading it from Google’s website. Follow the instructions to be sure that the program is installed correctly.
Once the program is reinstalled, check to see if the error is still occurring. If it’s gone, your problem is solved. If not, you’ll need to continue to investigate.
Uninstalling Software the Right Way
Perhaps it was not the new installation that caused the problem, but a recent uninstall of a program. Remember the problem is that the link between Windows and your user account has been broken. This can certainly happen if an un-installation process didn't go right, leaving redundant things in the way. If you’ve deleted or uninstalled software recently, it may be causing the problem you’re seeing now. If you think this may be the case, consider how you removed the program. Did you simply right-click and Delete the program from your desktop? If you did, you didn’t remove the whole program.
To remove the program correctly, you’ll once again be in Programs and Features in the Control Panel. If it's still listed, find the specific program you were trying to get rid of, Highlight it and click on Uninstall. Once the program is uninstalled, check for the error. Hopefully it will be gone, but if it’s still there, you’ll need to do a more deluxe uninstall process.
If you did do a proper uninstall but the error still persists, there may be remnants of the program you were removing on your machine, bogging things down. This isn't your fault, as some programmers are known to build faulty uninstallers for their applications. To be sure that you’ve removed it fully, reinstall the program from its original source – download it again if necessary – and then go through the steps to uninstall it. By reinstalling the program, it should complete the puzzle behind the scenes so that you can sweep the whole messy thing away again correctly by uninstalling it fully.
Check again for the error – gone? Good! Not gone? Move on!
Using a System Restore Point
If you’ve had your fill with uninstalling and resintalling software just to uninstall it again, you can try going back in time to fix the problem. Type System Restore in the Start menu. When you’ve pulled up System Restore, you’ll see a list of Restore Points. Choose a point from the time before the problem started. (Be sure you’ve backed up all of your files, just in case.)
Once you’ve selected a Restore Point, click on Next and follow the instructions. Your computer will jettison back in time to the selected point. If it was working well at that point, it should be working well again. Pull up the program and check for the errors. It should be working correctly now if it was working correctly a few days previously. If it is, move on from this point and carefully consider any additional downloads or uninstallations as you can see the sort of damage they can cause.
If the restore point wasn’t all that you hoped for, you can try an earlier restore point, but there comes a time when you’re losing more in time than you’re gaining in solutions. At that point, it’s time to try another step to resolve the error.
To learn more about Windows System Restore, (and other restoration features) check out these articles:
(Re-)Registering the DLL
The tiny file that is causing all of this trouble may just need a bit of TLC to start working properly again. Re-registering is a process whereby you tell Windows to look for a given file and then to put it back in its original standing. To manually register the DLL file, you’ll open the Start menu and then type in “cmd” to the search box. This will open up the command prompt. You’ll then type in the registry and path for the .dll file you’re trying to fix. The regsvr32 command can be used to re-register the file. Here's a sample of what the command looks like with the appropriate file path. . .
Re-registering is a somewhat technical process, but there are certainly things you can do to make it easier. Check out these articles to get full, step-by-step instructions on re-registering .dll files and troubleshooting problems: The Complete Guide to Managing DLLs
Use a Professional Uninstaller
Finally, if nothing else is working, you can take things up a notch by bringing in some big guns. A professional cleaning tool like FixCleaner will have a professional uninstaller built into the software. It works like revved up version of Microsoft’s own Uninstall feature. Where Microsoft removes programs, a professional uninstaller can do more to extract files by digging down to the roots of the system and removing temp files and application data that are sometimes overlooked. Moreover, applications like FixCleaner use a coordinated process that not only extracts software, but updates all of the various registry entries to make sure that no action will have unwanted consequences in some other part of Windows.