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.exe is not a valid Win32 application

This article examines the scenario of .exe files not opening due to a corrupt file system or an unregistered file. Sometimes while launching an .exe file, an error occurs where the file is termed as an invalid Win32 application. This article solves this problem for the user. It highlights the reasons for the error and subsequently provides remedies for it. The various situations discussed here are: File downloads, a badly configured IDE Controller, support CD/DVD unreadable, a corrupted or unregistered file, spyware and a problematic browser configuration.


When you launch an executable file, Windows displays a message like:
Application name is not a valid Win32 application 

.exe is a file execution extension. There are different file formats for different systems that are identifiable with the help of different alphabets that accompany them.
  • File download
  • IDE Controller badly configured
  • Support CD / DVD unreadable
  • File system corrupted
  • File unregistered
  • Virus / spyware
  • Problem with browser configuration

Downloaded File

If the application in question was uploaded to the Internet, it is possible that it was corrupted during the download. In this case, just download the file again.

IDE Controller Badly Configured

  • Right click on My Computer and select "Properties".
  • In System Properties, select the Hardware tab then Device Manager.
  • Double-click the IDE ATA / ATAPI controllers.
  • Double-click on Primary IDE Channel and Secondary IDE channel.
  • In the tab "Advanced Settings", under Device 0, ensure the command is set to DMA if available and not PIO only.

CD / DVD is Unreadable

If the error is caused by a defective media, follow the steps below:
  • Try to read the CD / DVD in another drive
  • Clean with a soft cloth and water (no soap)
  • Attempt to retrieve the data with software such as Win ISO (free version), which will retrieve the damaged file

File System Corrupt

To check the integrity of protected system files, run the following command:

sfc/scannow

File Unregistered

If the error occurs at the opening of files, click Start / Run, then enter and confirm the following command:

regsvr32 / i SHELL32.DLL

Virus/Spyware

The problem may be related to malware. Post a question on CCM's forum in the virus/security section for further help.

Problem with Internet Explorer Configuration

  • Disconnect from IE (Internet Explorer) or Firefox
  • Double click on IE (even if you only use Firefox)
  • Tools> Internet Options> Security Tab
  • Verify that the security level for this zone is medium-high and high NO.
  • Validate OK
  • Disconnect
  • Reconnect
Jean-François Pillou

CCM is a leading international tech website. Our content is written in collaboration with IT experts, under the direction of Jeff Pillou, founder of CCM.net. CCM reaches more than 50 million unique visitors per month and is available in 11 languages.

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Published by netty5. Latest update on November 9, 2015 at 05:43 PM by Ambucias.

This document, titled ".exe is not a valid Win32 application," is available under the Creative Commons license. Any copy, reuse, or modification of the content should be sufficiently credited to CCM (https://ccm.net/).

4 Comments

Dont fall for the registry scan scam. Use CCleaner for free
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I was getting the exact same error after installing Office Home and Student 2010 on my computer which is running Vista Home Premium. The error would only occur when I double clicked on a WORD document (i.e. there were no problems with EXCEL and PowerPoint) and appeared to be related to an incorrect association between WORD and all .doc files. The only way I could properly open any .doc file was from within the WORD program.

I found a number of suggested solutions on the internet. However, none of the solutions I tried worked and I wasted a huge amount of time removing/reinstalling programs, running the repair option from the Office disc, trying to reassociate the files to WORD, changing settings, etc.

Eventually I tried running a registry cleaner/repairer. After running the registry cleaner/repairer I was able to then properly associate all of the .doc files with WORD and everything now works perfectly.

So, in my case it was definitely a registry issue that was causing the error.

The registry cleaner/repairer program that I used to fix the problem was CCleaner. It is a tried and proven freeware program that has been around for years. You can download it for free from any of the reputable freeware download sites.
> mostlyignorant -
But that's the problem: once I download something (like CCleaner) and then try to install, that's when I get the "not a valid win32 application" error message.