“NTLDR is missing” is a common error that Windows XP users encounter once in a while during boot up. NTLDR is a vital system file used to start the Windows XP OS. Over time, this file can get corrupted, damaged or even deleted for variety of reasons. If that’s the case, it usually displays “NTLDR is Missing” error message when you try to start your Windows XP machine. There are also some instances where you also get error message like “NTDETECT.COM is missing.” The fix is very similar to “NTLDR is missing” error, so I will just include both in my tutorial. If you are having same issue with Windows 7, then try this tutorial: NTLDR Windows 7 Fix. This tutorial will cover the nature, cause and resolution of this issue.
When trying to start up Windows, you might get an error message saying NTLDR is missing or not found and you are only given an option to press any key to restart.
The most common cause of “NTLDR is missing” error message is when your hard drive or flash drive has corrupted or may be due to misconfigured system files. It happens when your PC is trying to boot from a hard drive that is not properly configured or is non-bootable. The corruption or deletion of NTLDR file could be due to incomplete or improper OS upgrade, corrupt sectors of your hard drive or even loose or damaged IDE/SATA cable. The below screenshot illustrates how the error message will look like:
NTLDR is Missing – Fix:
To fix this issue, you will need to copy necessary files from you Windows XP setup CD. Before doing that, first try removing non-system disk from the boot device. For example, pull out the non-system disk from the CD-ROM or the floppy drive.
After that, change the boot sequence of your computer from BIOS. Change it so the CD-ROM is first in the sequence, enabling your computer to boot into CD-ROM first.
Now run the Windows setup and launch the Recovery Console:
- Insert the Windows XP setup CD into the CD-ROM, and then restart the PC.
- Boot into CD by pressing appropriate key during boot up. For example, if you have Dell PC, then press “F12” and if you have HP, then press “F9”. Choose “Boot from CD/DVD”.
- Windows will then start loading all files. After it’s done, the “Welcome to Setup” screen will appear. Press R to launch the Recovery Console utility.
- A command line interface will appear and you will be asked to select proper windows volume. Press 1 to continue.
Note: If you have a dual-boot (multiple OS) setup on you PC then choose the appropriate drive.
- It will then prompt for the administrative password, so type in the Administrator password. If you never set up this password, then leave it blank. Press ENTER.
- From this point you can use several Recovery Console Commands for diagnosis. For this particular issue, we will use following commands
- COPY X:\i386\NTLDR C:\
- COPY X:\i386\NTDETECT.COM C:\
Note: X = drive letter of your CD ROM, so make sure to use appropriate drive letter here.
After entering those commands, restart your PC and pull out the Windows CD from the CD-ROM.
It should fix the issue as we used those Recovery Console commands to copy both NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM files into the root of C drive.
If you are still seeing “NTLDR is missing” error message then let me know in the comments section below and I will get back to you.