What Is a Win32 Extractor?

By Amber Hemmer

Windows uses system files, such as the Win32 extractor, to successfully run certain functions and tasks on the computer. The Win32 extractor is also often called a Win32 cabinet self-extractor. Because the extractors are hidden and start by themselves, you don't usually come across the self-extracting applications. Oftentimes, this makes it difficult to determine the function and purpose of common system applications, such as the Win32 extractor.


Creating system applications, like Win32 extractors, to run and manage the system files is necessary, as they wouldn't function properly without the applications. Some system files that are created by Microsoft are compressed to save disk space. To run the compressed files, often Windows update files, there has to be an associated application to extract the data from the file. The Win32 cabinet self-extractor works to run the compressed files.

File Information

Several Win32 cabinet self-extractors are found in every Microsoft operating system. Different Win32 cabinet self-extractors are used to complete various system tasks. Each Win32 extractor file is named differently, most ending with an ".exe" or ".cab" file extension. Such files and applications are often hidden and stored in the computer's main system folders to avoid accidental erasure or damage.


Each Win32 cabinet self-extractor reads and runs a different type of compressed system file. For example, if your computer didn't have a media player, you couldn't listen to music. Without an image viewer, your computer wouldn't be able to display and edit photos. However, the media player couldn't display pictures and an image viewer couldn't play back music files. Applications such as the media player and image viewer work similarly to a Win32 cabinet self-extractor in reading specific file types.

Common Errors

As with any file or application on a computer, Win32 cabinet self-extractors can become corrupt, damaged or infected. After downloading a file and attempting installation, a message may alert you that the self-extractor is corrupt. Oftentimes, the downloaded file is corrupt and the self-extractor is fine. Downloading the file a second time can fix this problem. Because the Win32 cabinet self-extractors are located in the system folders, they can become targets for viruses. Using an anti-virus scanner to check the applications can fix a damaged or infected Win32 extractor.