File is not a valid 32-bit application

Maybe you’re experiencing a problem where the program you’re attempting to run is corrupted or even missing. In this case, Windows won’t be able to run the file properly, and as such, the operating system will generate an error – File is not a valid 32-bit application.

File is not a valid 32-bit application

The error is usually about an executable file not being a valid 32-bit application, so right away it’s clear we have a big problem. Worry not, however, because there are ways to get things back on the right track.

Here’s the thing; it’s possible that while the program was being downloaded, the executable file was corrupted. Maybe the download failed to complete, or maybe it’s not compatible with the version of Windows you’re currently running.

Then again, maybe it has everything to do with the source of where the file was downloaded from. We always recommend downloading executable files from the primary source or the official homepage if you can.

So, let’s look at some ways to fix things.

File is not a valid 32-bit application

The first move is to delete the program and re-download it again from the source. This time, make sure it is 100 percent complete before attempting to install. If that doesn’t work, try downloading it from a different web-page.

Now, if you have a CD with the program laying around, then it’s a good idea to try and install it from that physical media. Yes, we know most folks aren’t using physical media these days, but for those who have yet to let go of the past, this option is for you.

What if the program is already installed but unable to launch?

Well, in the scenario where you’re having issues with an already installed program that worked before, verify that it has not been deleted. We tend to launch applications from a shortcut, and there are times when a file is removed, the shortcut doesn’t go with it.

The next step is to check if you’re dealing with a corrupted or damaged hard drive. You see, this can cause functioning apps to fail. In such a situation, we recommend using Disk Defragmentation and Disk Error Checking to check if your drive is running at optimal performance.

If that’s not the problem, then chances are you’re dealing with a bad file. You see, any file association can be changed to .exe. Be sure that if you’re downloading an executed file that it’s always .exe; and if that’s not the case, then leave it alone.

The file is not associated with the right program

When it comes down to the Windows operating system, each file extension is associated with a program. Whether it be .exe, .jpg, .png, .txt, .zip, etc., they require a default program to open them.

Maybe you’re dealing with a situation where the wrong program is assigned, and as such, it’s wise to check if this is indeed the case and make the necessary changes. Visit this guide to learn how to change file associations in Windows OS.

Virus or malware infection could be the issue

Worst case scenario, your computer is infected with a virus, worm, trojan, or a malware. If this is the case, then your anti-virus has done its job because if a virus infected executable file is unable to run, the anti-virus has stopped it in its tracks, and that’s good news.

Check your anti-virus program to see if it has been quarantined, and take the necessary steps to have it removed from the computer for good.

Hope the suggestions in the post helps you!

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.