Executable File or EXE

The exe is a computer file format that ends with the extension “.exe”. These files are used to install and run programs that perform various functions or operations on a computer. This is a common file name extension for various operating systems. This article explains an introduction to exe file. Summary of the article:

  • What is exe file?
  • Properties of Exe File
  • Common EXE File Names
  • How to run an executable file?

exe file

What is exe file?
An executable file or .exe file is a computer file that contains instructions in a format that a computer’s operating system or application can understand and follow. These files are used in Microsoft Windows, DOS, OpenVMS, OS/2, and Symbian operating systems. The exe files are not exactly same as dll files. Both have some differences.

The exe file has executable program. Besides the executable program, an EXE files may contain other components called resources, like: bitmaps and icons. The executable program uses this for its graphical user interface. It knows how to create a process and how to talk to the DLL.

Unlike a data or source file, an exe file is not human readable. The Executable files are primarily associated with Microsoft Corporation. This is the alternative name for a program. All the programs that run under Windows or DOS operating system are in the .EXE format. In DOS system, the executable files can have .COM extension also. In IBM machine, the common executable files are .EXE, .BAT, .COM, and .BIN. Based on the operating system of a computer others executable files can exist.

Properties of Exe File
An exe file has some basic properties. These properties represent the characteristics of an exe. Some properties are given bellow:

  • It is Executable File
  • It can be executed with the help of OS(Operating System)
  • It has main function
  • An exe is a program

Common EXE File Names
The Setup.exe and Install.exe are common and popular name for software installers. We can start the installation process by Double-clicking these files. Another famous name is cmd.exe (replacing the COMMAND.CMO) which is shell program used by Windows 2000 and later.

How to run an executable file?
We can execute or run an exe files in many ways. Some common ways are given bellow:

  • In Microsoft Windows, a simple double-click will execute the exe file
  • In other GUI based operating systems, a single-click or double-click will execute the exe file
  • In MS-DOS and numerous other command line operating systems, at the command prompt just type the name of the executable files and press enter key. For example, the command for the file MyFile.exe is: MyFile
  • In other command line operating systems (like Linux or Unix) may require the user to type a period and a forward slash in front of the file name. For example, the command for the file MyFile.exe is : ./MyFile

Different operating support numerous tools or programs to run or open .exe files. Some popular tools are given bellow:

  • Windows
    Microsoft Windows, WinRAR5, 7-Zip, etc
  • Linux
    Oracle VM VirtualBox with Microsoft Windows installed, Xamarin MonoExternal, WineExternal, CodeWeavers CrossOverExternal, etc
  • Mac OS
    VMware Fusion with Microsoft Windows installed, Oracle VM VirtualBox with Microsoft Windows installed, Kronenberg WineBottler, Parallels Desktop for Mac with Microsoft Windows installed, Xamarin Mono, Darwine, CodeWeavers CrossOver, etc

The exe files are the most useful file types because it runs programs. However this may become harmful for us. This is a common and easiest medium for the attacker. This can be used as a delivery system for viruses or other malicious routines. It can damage necessary files, network system, etc. The best defense is, don’t open unknown exe files. Be careful during internet browsing, downloading, email reading.

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