Wow64 Implementation Details

Software developers compile separate executable files (.EXE or .DLL) for 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) systems. The 64-bit version of the program is usually denoted by suffixing 64 or x64 with the filename — e.g., sigcheck.exe vs. sigcheck64.exe. In some cases, the bitness notation may be missing, and you may be wondering if the executable is 32-bit or 64-bit.

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This article discusses various methods to determine if a program or executable file is 32-bit or 64-bit in Windows.

Note that some vendors may combine the 32-bit and 64-bit executables into one 32-bit self-extractor file that would detect the platform, extract, and run the correct EXE for the current platform.

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Note

32-bit programs can run seamlessly on a Windows 64-bit Operating System using the WOW64 x86 emulator. But it won’t work the other way around. Running a 64-bit application on Windows 32-bit causes the following error(s):

This version of is not compatible with the version of Windows you’re running. Check your computer’s system information to see whether you need a x86 (32-bit) or x64 (64-bit) version of the program, and then contact the software publisher

Check if an executable (.exe or .dll) is 32-bit or 64-bit

To find if a .exe or .dll is 32-bit or 64-bit, use one of these methods:

Using Task Manager

You can find the bitness of each running program in the Task Manager Details tab.

Open Task Manager and select the Details tab.Right-click on the column header and click Select columns. The column header is the row that has the caption for each column, such as Name, PID, Status, etc.

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So, as always, back up the original executable before viewing it in a text editor if you’re going to follow the headers method.

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