Skip to content


PC Program Folders Explained

Ever wonder why Windows suggests a program file for installing new applications? Ever wonder why it’s good to follow the installation software’s folder suggestion? Here’s why.

Just about all PC-based computers today run 64-bit code (also referred to as x64) and x64 versions of Windows. However, many programs are still written for the older 32-bit version, and a lot of users still want them. To accommodate this backward compatibility, Windows x64 needs to run both 64- and 32-bit programs, and it can do a better job if it keeps these two very different types of code separate.

This may be a bit technical, but the operating system can’t assume that an x86 program even knows that such a thing as x64 code exists, and that could cause problems if they cross. Keeping them in separate folders is the simplest way to avoid problems.

This can get a little bit like Abbot & Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine, but why is 32-bit code identified as x86 instead of x32? The 16-bit chips in early PCs used the 8086 architecture. Even when the chips went 32-bit in the late 1980s, they still used 8086 code, and x86 model numbers. (Remember the 386 and 486 processors?) So the number 86 now refers to pre-x64 code, whether it’s 16- or 32-bit, although the 16-bit x86 code won’t run in 64-bit versions of Windows.

Why do we tell you this? Because if software you installed doesn’t seem to be working properly or working at all, you may have inadvertently or unknowingly mixed and matched programs and program files. Fixing the error without knowing how all these interactions affect your system could make the problem worse. With remote access to your computer, we can likely fix it or guide you through the fix. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to fix your program-folder issues.