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Windows 7: Games and rundll32 issue

30 Jun 2019   #11

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit

I had this problem, too. Older games, like NOLF, NOLF2, Painkiller, Deus Ex suddenly wouldn't start. The game would hang and when I checked the task manager, the game would be in the list, along with a Rundll32.exe child process that was hogging up CPU resources. I recommend using Process Explorer, instead of the default task manager. It shows the relationships between the game and any child processes a lot better. One of the libraries that RunDLL32.exe was loading was gameux.dll This file turned out to be what was causing the hang. Because it's a system file, the trick was finding a way to take ownership of the file, so I could disable it.

This worked for me on Windows 7 64bit.
First, Create a Restore Point, in case you mess something up.
Start the computer in Safe Mode.
Use Windows Explorer to navigate to your C:\Windows\SysWOW64 directory.
Look for gameux.dll. Right-click on it and bring up the Property sheet.
Click the 'Security' tab. Take ownership of the file by copying its permission from whatever account had full access originally. On my computer, that Owner was called "TrustedInstaller" You need to transfer ownership to whatever your default Administrator account is called.
Now you can rename the gameux.dll file to something like gameuxBAK.dll (It's good practice not to delete possibly-critical files in case you need to restore them, later)
(There is also a copy of gameux.dll in the C:\Windows\System32 directory. You may need to rename that one, too.
Reboot normally. The games should launch now.

My theory for why this works is that when the older games were installed, they were registered with the Windows Game folder, which tries to download updates and game icons whenever you launch the game. Microsoft is phasing out support of Windows 7 next year and in typical Microsoft fashion, they started removing the online support early. I think the RunDLL32.exe is trying and failing to contact the online resources for game updates. When it fails, instead of handing off control back to the game, it tries to endlessly contact Microsoft for resources that no longer exist.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Aug 2019   #12

Windows 7 64 bit
Thank you so much

Hey man I registered to this forum just for saying THANK YOU for your great post.

You can't imagine how much I worked on this problem.

One day my windows 7 decided that half of the old games I have an that is a tons:

Postal 1-2
Half life 1 and all expansions
Unreal tournaments all old versions
NOLF 1 2
etc etc

just stopped working. Looking at process hacker they loaded in rundll32 exe which was just hanging and hanging and hanging.

Your solution worked great and now I got all my old games back!

I had windows update disabled from the start because I don't need updates, I need a working system so no idea how did this just broke at one point. One of my theory since I install remove lots of games, one must have done this.

And for those who run into the same problem here is something additional.

I had tons of different versions of this gameux.dll under the winSXS folder, you have to take ownership of all of them in safe mode and delete them one by one, otherwise as long as there is 1 available windows will copy it back and your games are going to break.

Man I backing up on the DOUBLE now, thank you so much!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Oct 2019   #13

windows 7 ultimate x64
The now notorius file known as gameux.dll. Good News

Ok!!! I changed permissions in safe mode to rename gameux.dll entries which btw was a pain; but the only one I was able to rename was in the windows 7 ultimate 32 bit (no service pk) location:
C:\windows\system32... But luckily this fixed the problem at least for my game which was the God game "Black & White". Keep in mind I tried every other method including a work around: Suspend or remove the rundll32.exe entry using the resource monitor which worked; but this method is better with renaming the gameux.dll file as it only needs to be done ONCE. Kudo's to the one above who found this file which is used to update windows games...My game was in the list of games of the games explorer. Go figure, it was listed as a Microsoft game which it isn't. If windows recreates the file then I guess this doesn't fix the problem. However so far No problem...I shall reboot to be sure...I rebooted and the problem is gone for sure!!! I hope this helps everyone with this very obscure difficulty. Ta daaaaaa! . BTW now I cannot open solitaire unless I reverse the process: rename back to gameux.dll from OLDgameux.dll. Also all this might not be necessary if you are online as the rundll32.exe is being used to update Microsoft games and may finish. Please post replies....thx.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 Feb 2020   #14

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1

Since someone raised the question once again for good old games like Dark Messiah of Might & Magic...
and since it seems the problem was caused by 'gameux.dll' on Windows 7 I wondered if the hack solution suggested above messing with registry/system files can be replaced by a MS Application Compatibility Toolkit solution, using shims like IgnoreLoadLibrary (and setting 'gameux.dll' as Parameters)
Don't have Win7 to test but could be a cleaner solution in these cases...
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Games and rundll32 issue

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