Why do these files have numbers appended to their names?

Posted on 2009-02-12
Last Modified: 2012-08-13
In C:\windows\system32, I have a bunch of files with names like


They are all the same size and have the same date.

What's with the numbers in parentheses?

There are additional names with similar parenthesized numbers,


Windows XP Pro SP2
Question by:eschamp
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    It is the Windows syntax for renaming files with the same filename without overwriting the original file.  As for the activeds.dll, I would leave them be as they are associated with Active Directory.

    Author Comment

    Why would Windows rename them?

    Why do I need all of those activeds.dlls?
    LVL 4

    Accepted Solution

    activeds.dll is a module that contains functions and object methods, or COM components, for the Active Directory Services Interfaces (ADSI) API (SOMETHING THAT WINDOWS OS NEEDS).

    also, activeds.dll should not be disabled / Deleted, as this .dll is required for essential applications to work properly.

    you might have had unintentionally installed a program several times, the installation package of which was unable to arrange these .dll files properly. Normally, installation packages come with the ability to check for the version number of the .dll files before updating / replacing them. It seems to me that some program has tried to remove activeds.dll, and failed as this dll is continuously in use with the Operating system. The installation package, instead of ignoring it, has renamed the file and moved forward.

    These .dll do not consume a lot of disk space / memory therefore it is highly recommended to just ignore them.

    Also, as a suggestion, try noting down somewhere how many files do you have in system32 folder. Just note it down somewhere for future use. Reboot your system and open some of your favorite programs and do some work. Close these programs and check once again how many files are in the system32 folder. if the Total file count is intact, then it is not a virus. and YES you can ignore this issue.

    However, if you see a change in the number of files in system32 folder after a reboot and program operations, then this is considered as a virus. You might as well scan your whole computer or running this free rather GREAT utility called COMBOFIX.

    Let me know if this helps :-)

    Author Comment


    Thanks but you did not answer my question about the numbers in parentheses.

    Also, I asked "Why do I need ALL OF THOSE activeds.dll files?"


    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    dear eschamp... accept my apologies if i havn't answered your question. i will try it this time...

    "Thanks but you did not answer my question about the numbers in parentheses."

    Lets answer this question in the form of a little exercise... are you ready?

    Goto Desktop (Could be any folder)
    Right Click, a menu will appear. Click NEW .> TEXT DOCUMENT
    A default text file will be created with the name "New Text Document.txt" (ONLY IF THIS FILE IS NOT ALREADY PRESENT ON THE DESKTOP)
    I suppose that the text file is created on your desktop with the name i mentioned earlier... GOOD !!!
    now, repeat this procedure several times. Goto desktop, right click . click new  > text document
    and what do u see now?
    New Text Document (2).txt
    New Text Document (3).txt
    New Text Document (4).txt
    New Text Document (5).txt
    New Text Document (6).txt

    So you understand now? A default text file is called New Text Document.txt... if a file with this name and extension is already present in the folder where windows wants to create this file, windows would automatically change its name to prevent duplication. The method that windows use to rename any file is by incrementing the number next to the file name.

    Lets go through another example. goto Desktop. Right Click > NEw > FOLDER
    we are going to create few folders now for this exercise.
    Repeat these steps several times ...
    New Folder
    New Folder (2)
    New Folder (3)
    New Folder (4)
    New Folder (5)
    New Folder (6)
    what do you see?
    what are in the perenthesis?
    Where did these perenthesis come from?

    Well the answer to your question is... SIMPLY TO PREVENT duplicate name creation in a same file.
    I hope i have answered your first question :-)

    Move to second question.  "Why do I need ALL OF THOSE activeds.dll files?"

    .dll files are called the dynamic link libraries

    According to Wikipedia, DLL, is Microsoft's implementation of the shared library concept in the Microsoft Windows and OS/2 operating systems. These libraries usually have the file extension DLL, OCX (for libraries containing ActiveX controls), or DRV (for legacy system drivers). The file formats for DLLs are the same as for Windows EXE files  that is, Portable Executable (PE) for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows, and New Executable (NE) for 16-bit Windows. As with EXEs, DLLs can contain code, data, and resources, in any combination.
    In the broader sense of the term, any data file with the same file format can be called a resource DLL. Examples of such DLLs include icon libraries, sometimes having the extension ICL, and font files, having the extensions FON and FOT.

    Well, i hope that now you understand what Activeds.dll... It  is a system file created by Microsoft Corporation. It is part of Windows Operating System. Microsoft describes this dll file as ADs Router Layer DLL.

    In my earlier comment, i suggested that some installation package must have tried to modify this windows dll, but failed as a file with activeds.dll already exists in the system32 folder. Therefore, windows has changed its name to prevent duplication... (REMEMBER OUR EXERCISE EARLIER :-))

    Just know that activeds.dll is a security package needed by windows to function properly. You can try to unregister this package from the registry and see what happens yourself... :-)... but at your own risk dude..... as a word of precaution... windows would not let u unregister it as it is an essential component... but lets say, windows unregisters it..... it would come back in the future for sure... as like i said.. "its an essential component"..
    Athar Anis

    Author Comment

    Thanks, Athar,

    I understand how these files are created, but I would like to know (a) what created them and (b) why.

    You suggested that some installation package tried to overwrite each of these files and failed, so it created a "new" (although the new file has the same size and time stamp as the old one) file in the same directory.

    What would cause it to fail, especially w/o givingme a warning message?

    I'm not specifically concerned with activeds.dll as many readers have assumed. My question is, do I need to keep all of the copies of activeds.dll (and the others with parenthesized numbers in their names)?

    I'm in the process of moving all of these files to a new directory. I've just finished with the b's and have 225 files totaling about 50MBs so far.

    Thanks, again.
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    did you try running a full virus scan? what anti virus are u using?
    no, u dont necessarily need to keep all these copies... u can safely delete the files in the perentheses... but why do u want to delete all of them? how much space do these files consume? just a little presume.. so leave them.

    what do u mean when u say "I've just finished with the b's and have 225 files totaling about 50MBs so far.'

    What would cause it to fail, especially w/o givingme a warning message?

    well, if you refer to my last comment, in the exercise... it created a new text document with names with parenthesis... offcourse, the file could not be created with the same name (A FAILURE).. did it give u a warning message? NOOOO !!!!  just because thats how the windows mechanism is... thats how the windows o/s is designed...
    in your case, that dll must have already been in use... and the installation package must have tried to copy a file with the same name, the operating system renamed it and copied it... however, if the installation package had tried to DELETE that file from the system, and if that file was in use, the operating system would have warned the user... and thats for sure...

    as a suggestion, you dont necessarily have to worry about these files until they start causing you any problem... thats includes operating system failure or warning messages... u can always get back to me here and ask for the solution dude... :)

    Author Comment

    The final total was 1620 files, 360MB.

    I would expect that an installation program would give a warning message if it failed to installed a needed DLL file. But there were no warnings from the installation files or from Windows.
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    thats a windows issue like i said earlier... we are EE can only give you solutions here, but as far as the software / OS design is concerned, you got to email microsoft people and register your feedback...

    I consider this topic as closed....and SOLVED....
    what do u think eschamp? ;-)

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