What is IKernel.exe?
IKernel.exe is the engine that drives the processes of InstallShield installations. InstallShield is a popular tool for creating software installer applications on PCs, and a majority of third-party developers uses it for their products. Its popularity comes from its simplicity of use and low risk of user-induced problems during installation.
What causes IKernel.exe errors?
The sheer amount of installation programs that use InstallShield can make it difficult to determine the exact cause of an IKernel.exe error. It may the result of viruses or other malicious software in your system, corrupted or missing system files, conflicting temporary data and other problems. Some causes are very serious and may cause damage to your system, while others are the result of minor inconsistencies that can be fixed easily.
IKernel.exe Viruses, Trojans, and Malware
Many forms of malicious software, such as computer viruses, Trojans, and malware, disguise themselves as IKernel.exe in order to go undetected while damaging your system. Anti-virus and anti-spyware software are available in free and commercial versions, and should be used regularly to detect and remove intruders.
The real IKernel.exe file is always located in a subfolder of C:\Program Files\Common Files. Any other file with the same file name found elsewhere on the hard drive is a potentially harmful imposter. Beware of similarly named processes – some malicious files may be named using a lowercase L instead of an uppercase i, making it hard to distinguish from the real IKernel.exe.
Viruses spread via file reproduction or modification of other files, which means they leave a trace in the Windows registry. Even after a virus has been successfully quarantined and removed, you may need to repair the damage it caused to the registry. You can read more at Microsoft.com and also below.
Temp files or registry problems
Every time you install a computer program or game, it makes one or more entries in the system registry. After installation, the program will continue to refer to the registry entries, which means that any corrupted or missing data in the registry could cause errors. A common cause of errors is installations that where somehow interrupted before completion. Uninstalling and reinstalling the program may solve the issue, but severely corrupted data may go undetected by the uninstaller and continue to cause problems.
You can access the registry by typing the word run into the Windows search bar and pressing the enter key. In the Run-window, type regedit and press the enter key. This will open the Registry Editor. You can locate and delete the corrupted registry entries manually, but if you do not feel confident about doing so, it is safer to use a professional registry editing tool.
The IKernel.exe process launches when called upon by an InstallerShield-based installation program, and closes shortly after the installation is complete. This makes it a temporary process, which means it generates temp-files. Running several installers in quick succession can sometimes confuse the IKernel.exe process and cause errors. In these instances, simply waiting a few moments between installations solves the problem.
Similarly, old temp-files from previous installations may cause problems, particularly if the temp-files were generated by older versions of the engine. Removing the files in C:\windows\Temp, C:\WINNT\Temp or C:\Temp folders may solve the problem.
Missing system files
IKernel.exe errors can be caused by corrupted or missing system files. The files in question are usually Stdole.tlb, Stdole2.tlb or Stdole32.tlb. In these instances, the missing files need to be replaced from the original installation CD or another computer running a healthy version of the same system.
If you do not want to replace the files manually, you can use the command prompt. Insert the Windows system CD into your drive, then access the command prompt by opening the Run-window and typing cmd. Type cd to access the root folder, then type expand d:\i386\filename.tl_ c:\windows\system32\filename.tlb, replacing filename with the name of the file you wish to replace, and replacing d and c with the letters of your CD drive and hard drive, respectively. If IKernel.exe errors persist, you may need to reinstall Windows completely.