Fix NTLDR is Missing Error

If the error message "NTLDR is missing" appears when you are trying to boot Windows XP, then you can quickly fix it using Emergency Boot CD.

This article explains how to fix NTLDR is missing error, by restoring original NTLDR file from OS installation media.

Contents

1. Symptoms of the problem

When computer is powered up, an error message "NTLDR is missing
Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart" appears (white-on-black letters in text mode and blinking cursor):

Boot Problem - NTLDR is missing
Boot Problem - NTLDR is missing

2. Normal boot sequence

Normally Windows XP boots as shown below:

Normal boot sequence of Windows XP
Normal boot sequence of Windows XP
  1. BIOS loads 1st sector from HDD (Master Boot Record), verifies 55 AA signature and transfers control to Master Boot Record.
  2. Master Boot Record scans partition table for active partition, then it loads 1st sector from active partition, verifies 55 AA signature, and transfers control to Boot Sector.
  3. Boot Sector loads 15 additional sectors from the beginning of disk (Volume Boot Record) and transfers control to first additional sector of VBR.
  4. Volume Boot Record loads NTLDR file from root directory of boot partition into the memory and transfers control to it.
  5. NTLDR loads Boot.ini text file and displays boot menu. NTLDR is able to set safe mode boot flag per explicit user request. But normally, it loads ntoskrnl.exe, hal.dll and drivers according to list in the registry (normal boot) or hiberfil.sys (resume from hibernation). Then control is transferred to ntoskrnl.exe or resume point in the memory dump.

3. Defect in the boot sequence which leads to NTLDR is missing error

Defect in the boot sequence which is a reason for 'NTLDR is missing' error is shown below:

Reason for NTLDR is missing error
Reason for NTLDR is missing error
  1. BIOS loads 1st sector from HDD (Master Boot Record), verifies 55 AA signature and transfers control to Master Boot Record.
  2. Master Boot Record scans partition table for active partition. There is one active partition, so Master Boot Record loads 1st sector from active partition (Boot Sector), and transfers control to it.
  3. Boot Sector loads the rest of Volume Boot Record and VBR tries to find NTLDR at the root directory of boot partition but fails because "NTLDR" file does not exist or not readable.
  4. The rest of usual boot events does not happen.

4. How to fix NTLDR is missing error

1) Download EBCD and burn it to CD/DVD according to the instructions, then set up your BIOS to boot from CD. You need full EBCD version to actually write changes to the disk, but it's recommended to try demo version first to make sure  there are no hardware incompatibilities.

2) Boot EBCD:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Main Menu
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Main Menu

3) Run File Manager from the main menu:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - File Manager Started
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - File Manager Started

4) Press Alt+F1 and choose your system disk with installed Windows XP from the menu (use UP and DOWN arrow keys and ENTER):

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Choosing Windows XP system disk
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Choosing Windows XP system disk

5) In this example, NTLDR file is missing from system disk. If it exists in your environment, delete it (set cursor to the file using arrow keys UP and DOWN and then press F8). If NTLDR file is not deleteable, then rename it (for example, to NTLDR.OLD by pressing F6 key):

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Checking non-existence of NTLDR file
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Checking non-existence of NTLDR file

6) Insert Windows XP installation CD to your CD/DVD drive and press Alt+F2. Choose your CD/DVD drive from the menu using UP and DOWN arrow keys:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Choosing Windows XP installation disk
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Choosing Windows XP installation disk

7) Press ENTER:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Reading Windows XP installation disk
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Reading Windows XP installation disk

8) Press TAB key to switch input focus to the right panel and navigate to I386 folder using UP and DOWN arrow keys, then press ENTER to enter that folder:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Navigating to I386 folder
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Navigating to I386 folder

9) Using PAGE UP, PAGE DOWN keys and arrow keys (UP and DOWN) please navigate to the NTLDR file:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Searching for NTLDR in I386 folder
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Searching for NTLDR in I386 folder

10) Press F5 to copy NTLDR to the left panel. Confirm with ENTER key:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Restoring NTLDR on the system disk
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Restoring NTLDR on the system disk

11) NTLDR should appear on the left panel. Make sure it is there and press F10, ENTER to exit EBCD File Manager:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Verifying NTLDR is restored on the system disk
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Verifying NTLDR is restored on the system disk

12) Choose Mount & Boot Center in the main menu:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Running Mount and Boot Center from EBCD main menu
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Running Mount and Boot Center from EBCD main menu

13) Wait:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Waiting for Mount and Boot center to initialize
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Waiting for Mount and Boot center to initialize

14) Please make sure that radio button "called by BIOS" is selected for your the bootloader of your main OS. Then click the OK button:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Verifying NTLDR is called by BIOS
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - Verifying NTLDR is called by BIOS

15) "NTLDR is missing" boot problem should be fixed now. Choose 'Reboot' in the EBCD main menu:

Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - NTLDR is missing problem is fixed, rebooting
Fix NTLDR is missing with EBCD - NTLDR is missing problem is fixed, rebooting

Please note: Mount & Boot Center verifies entire boot path from BIOS to the OS boot loader, so other boot problems may be automatically fixed at this point.