***This is an old version of this page, the newest version is available at: http://ntldrismissing.com/ ***
How to fix: NTLDR is missing, press any key to restart
When your computer starts, the BIOS attempts to find the primary hard drive's active partition to read the first sector for the MBR (Master Boot Record), it uses that info to load the rest of the OS. For Windows NT4/2k/XP the NTLDR (New Technology Loader) takes it from there. If you get the "NTLDR is missing, press any key to restart" what's most likely going on is the BIOS either didn't look for the right drive, didn't find the right partition, it wasn't active, didn't find the MBR, or the MBR didn't list NTLDR in the right place, or the location of NTLDR changed.
If possible, try to change back whatever hardware or software change you just made (this could be as simple as leaving a floppy disk in the drive or you need to recheck the cables). (What if I made new changes that I want to keep?).
Make a NTLDR boot disk to get back into Windows.
****A more recent version of this writeup is at http://ntldrismissing.com
Including a boot CD for NT4/W2K!
The quick test to make sure your OS installation is still good is to create an MBR and NTLDR on a floppy disk and check your partitions. Here are the instructions to do this:
2. Download fixntldr.exe onto a working computer (What if I don't want to download a file from a website I don't trust?).
3. Run the fixntldr.exe file by double clicking it. Click OK to overwrite the blank floppy disc in the working computer, you should see some screens about writing a new floppy disk (What if my backup system is Linux or another alt OS?). Do you remember if the folder you had your Windows installation in was named "Windows"? If you can't remember just keep going (What if it was not named Windows like in NT4 or 2000?) .
4. Put the new floppy you have just created into the computer that gets the NTLDR is missing error message, turn the broken computer off if it is on.
Use the boot disk in the computer with the "NTLDR is missing" error.
Start back up the broken computer with the floppy in the floppy drive. Once your computer gets past the BIOS screen your computer should try to access the floppy drive and you should see a black screen with white letters that says: (What if I don't see this screen?).
1ST TRY THIS seleccione esto primero
(I threw in some Spanish / French / German / Italian / Portuguese for international flavor.)
This file is set up to automatically select the "1ST TRY THIS" choice after 30 seconds. Try it first, but if it gives you an error (usually something about a hal.dll file not loading) and doesn't continue booting into Windows XP, try the other options. ("1ST TRY THIS" aims for a Win XP installation to the first drive on the first partition, if yours is different, you will have to select another option. "ninth" aims for a Win98 installation on drive C, and "tenth" aims for a Win98 installation on drive D)
One of the choices should eventually boot you back into Windows. (If you go all the way to option 10 and still get errors on startup, try changing boot.ini to windows.ini and then winxp.ini to boot.ini, run through all 10 possibilities again, then change boot.ini to winxp.ini and winnt.ini to boot.ini and trying those 10 choices. (What if none of the options worked?) .
Use windows to fix the boot files on the hard drive.
Once you get back into windows, try to change back whatever you were last doing and boot normally, it that doesn't work, go to the root of your C:\ drive and rename boot.ini to boot.ini.bak, ntldr to ntldr.bak, and ntdetect.com to ntdetect.com.bak, then copy the files that are on your floppy disk to the root of your C:\ drive (if you used the CD-ROM, download the fixntldr.zip file and use the boot files from there) so that the files are on the root, like C:\ntldr C:\ntdetect.com C:\boot.ini. If it prompts you to overwrite a file, press "Yes". After they have been copied over, be sure to remove the "Read-Only" attribute from the properties of the files. (Right click on a file, choose properties, and uncheck the Read-Only box). Take the floppy out and reboot the computer (you should see the "1st Try This" menu, make the same selection you did before.
If you get back into Windows again, you can keep that "1st Try This" menu by going into Start > Control Panel > System > Advanced tab > Startup and Recovery section, Settings button > System Startup; then change the "Default Operating System:" to the selection that worked for you, and change the box that says "Time to display list of operating systems" to 1 second. Click OK twice. (What if the bootdisk worked, but I can't get into Windows without it?) .
It worked! Please help me back.
Ad revenues help, but it's your donations that are the force that keeps this site up and able to make improvements. Before it was much more difficult to create the boot floppy, but with WinImage Pro (for $80!) it's much simpler. I also hope to get the USB boot floppy working, and make the process for renaming the boot.ini file simpler. I figured we'd have a new OS by 2005, but with Vista not out until sometime in 2007 and people using Windows 98 7 years later, I'm sure Windows XP won't disappear anytime soon and thus this page must stay.
A free way to help me would be to link back to my webpage. Either from your own web page, or if you belong to any discussion forum that has to do with computers, or has a lounge section, why not let everyone know I helped you out by making a post and in that post, link back to my webpage?
If you would like, try providing feedback where everyone can see it (no login required) on "The Corkboard".
Copyright 2002 by Miles Comer All Rights Reserved; You can link to this article without first contacting me.
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