NTLDR missing (is it me or the drive?)

edited April 2007 in Hardware
Okay, I have done some searching around and seems that NTLDR missing is a semi-common problem. The issue that I have it that I believe that I have done all the troubleshooting however, I wanted to check with the forum to verify this. Plus, I wanted to share the scenrio with you as well.
  • Partioned new 200 GB drive into two 50GB and one 100 GB
  • Installed W2K on one of the 50GB partions
  • Loaded all drivers and baseline software
  • Was moving data from network drive on another machine when I got an error that said "need to run CHKDSK on C:"
  • Everytime I hit okay and hope to be able to run CHKDSK the error message would pop up again
  • So, I tried to re-boot Big mistake. Machine never booted again and could not rescue OS
  • Re-installed the OS again and installed all drivers and software
  • Things were going good until I tried to move a file once again from the network drive
  • System re-booted on it's own and came back up with NTLDR error
So, if I am undertanding this correctly I can fix this with a program run from a bootable CD. I beleive that I have the latest BIOS for my MoBo (N7NCG 400) however, I have been unable to verify. Could the partitions on the drive be the cause of these errors?



  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited May 2006
    This is a really common ****ing problem on Windows XP, but not so much on Windows 2000. I'm writing an article as I post this that will correct this and a laundry list of other items.

    I know you're probably in a hurry, but if you can wait about 12 hours, I'll preempt the article editing/review/posting process and place the draft right in your thread here.
  • edited May 2006
    Thrax- I can stay in a holding pattern for 12 hours. Thanks.

    BTW - my system is W2K without a disk drive.

  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited May 2006
    So, just to verify:

    The hard disk with the NTLDR error is a 200GB HDD.
    It has Windows 2000 installed on it but non-functional.
    And you have a valid, bootable Windows 2000 CD?
  • edited May 2006
    Yes you are correct.

    THe 200 GB is partitioned into three drives. 50 Gb (W2K), 50 GB data, 100 Gb video files.
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited May 2006
    Alrighty! Be back as early as 6 PM EDT, and no later than 9 PM EDT.
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited May 2006
    //EDIT: I lied. 11:15 PM. HO NOEZ.
    Repairing Windows XP in Six Commands

    Most of us have seen it at one time or another; perhaps on our own PC, the PC of a loved one, or perhaps a PC at your place of employment. The system spends weeks or months operating in a smooth fashion, taking you to the far reaches of the wide, wibbly web, and after one particularly late evening of browsing and gaming, you shut your PC off and go to bed. Millions of people across the globe do just this every night, but a few of us have turned our PCs on the next day not to the standard Windows XP loading screen, but instead this dreaded error:
    Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:

    You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup
    using the original Setup CD-ROM.
    Select 'R' at the first screen to start repair.

    Which renders your PC inaccessible from the standard boot procedures of Windows XP. You try safe mode, to no avail. You’re particularly savvy and try issuing the FIXBOOT and FIXMBR commands in the Windows recovery console, but after each reboot, you’re merely greeted with the same obnoxious and terrifying blue screen of death that’s preventing you from accessing your precious data.

    Perhaps you’ve also seen these error screens:

    Windows NT could not start because the below file is missing or corrupt:

    Windows NT could not start because the below file is missing or corrupt:


    NTLDR is Missing
    Press any key to restart
    Invalid boot.ini
    Press any key to restart

    Allow me to build tension by prefacing the end-all/be-all solution with my background: Having worked for the now-incorporated Geek Squad branch of Best Buy Corporation for the better part of eight months, I have seen dozens upon dozens of systems come through our department with any one of these errors, brought in by customers who are afraid they did something, have a virus, or are in jeopardy of losing their data. Prior to my discovery of an invaluable sequence of commands, our standard procedure was to hook the afflicted drive to an external enclosure, back up a customer’s data and then restore the PC with the customer’s restore discs or an identical copy of Windows with the customer’s OEM license key. If the customer wasn’t keen on the applicable charges for the data backup, we informed them of the potential risks for a Windows repair installation (Let’s face it, they don’t always work right), had them sign a waiver, and we did our best.

    Neither of these procedures are cheap in the realm of commercial PC repair, nor do they inspire a tremendous level of confidence in the technician or the hopeful client.

    In an effort to expedite our repair time and retain the sanity of myself and other technicians, I received permission to undertake a case study on a variety of PCs currently in service that exhibited any of the aforementioned symptoms, and I took it upon myself to find a better solution. After crawling through the MSKB, Experts Exchange, MSDN and sundry websites all extolling the virtues of a solution to these problems, I only found one that worked, and it has been reliably serving me for the better part of two weeks on seventeen PCs to date.

    The process is simple: Get to the Windows Recovery Console for your particular Windows installation, navigate to the root letter of your installation (C:\ in most cases), issue six commands, and reboot. The cornerstone of this process is a command called “BOOTCFG /Rebuild” which is a complete diagnostic of the operating system loaded into the recovery console; the purpose of the command is to remove/replace/repair any system files that were preventing the operating system from loading correctly. Amongst the files it fixes are:
    • Windows Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL)
    • Corrupt registry hives (\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\xxxxxx)
    • Invalid BOOT.INI files
    • A corrupt NTOSKRNL.EXE
    • A missing NT Loader (NTLDR)

    The command process may apply to other types of blue screens or Hive/HAL/INI/EXE/DLL-related stop errors, but I have not had the luxury of computers in this type of disrepair. The process I am about to outline is virtually harmless, and if you feel you may be able to correct your PC’s boot-time blue screens and stop errors with the sequence, feel free to try.

    Let us now begin with a step-by-step instruction for correcting these issues.

    Getting to the Windows Recovery Console
    1. Insert your Windows XP CD into your CD and assure that your CD-ROM drive is capable of booting the CD. Configuring your computer to boot from CD is outside of the scope of this document, but if you are having trouble, consult Google for assistance.

    2. Once you have booted from CD, do not select the option that states: “Press F2 to initiate the Automated System Recovery (ASR) tool.” You’re going to proceed until you see the following screen, at which point you will press the “R” key to enter the recovery console:

    3. After you have selected the appropriate option from step two, you will be prompted to select a valid Windows installation (Typically number “1”). Select the installation number, (As mentioned, “1” in most cases), and hit enter. If there is an administrator password for the administrator account, enter it and hit enter. You will be greeted with this screen, which indicates a recovery console at the ready:

    Proceeding With the Repair Functions
    1. There are six commands you must enter in sequence to repair any of the issues I noted in the opening of this guide. I will introduce them here, and then show the results graphically in the next six steps. These commands are as follows:
    • C:\ CD ..
    • C:\ ATTRIB –H –R –S C:boot.ini
    • C:\ del boot.ini
    • C:\ BOOTCFG /Rebuild
    • C:\ CHKDSK /R /F
    • C:\ FIXBOOT

    2. To recurse in computing is to revert back to the directory above the current folder you’re operating in. If, for example, I’m in the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 directory, and I want to get at a file in the WINDOWS directory, I would merely type CD .. and I would be taken out of the SYSTEM32 folder and up one level to WINDOWS. We’re going to do the same thing here from the WINDOWS folder to get to the basic root of C:\

    3. Now that we are at C:\ we can begin the process of repairing the operating system and that begins with modifying the attributes of the BOOT.INI file. Briefly, BOOT.INI controls what operating systems the Windows boot process can see, how to load them, and where they’re located on your disk. We’re going to make sure the file is no longer hidden from our prying eyes, remove the flag that sets it as an undeletable system file, and remove the flag that sets it as a file we can only read, but not write to. To do this, we will issue ATTRIB –H –R –S C:BOOT.INI
    to remove the Hidden, System and Read Only flags.

    4. Now that we’ve modified the attributes for the BOOT.INI file, it’s up for deletion. The syntax for it is simple: { DEL | FILE NAME }, e.g., C:\DEL BOOT.INI deletes the BOOT.INI file.

    5. Now for the most important step of our process, the BOOTCFG /REBUILD
    command which searches for pre-existing installations of Windows XP and rebuilds sundry essential components of the Windows operating system, recompiles the BOOT.INI file and corrects a litany of common Windows errors. It is very important that you do one or both of the following two things: First, every Windows XP owner must use /FASTDETECT as an OS Load Option when the rebuild process is finalizing. Secondly, if you are the owner of a CPU featuring Intel’s XD or AMD’s NX buffer overflow protection, you must also use /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN as an OS Load Option. I will demonstrate both commands for the purpose of this guide, but do not set NOEXECUTE as a load option if you do not own one of these CPUs. For the “Enter Load Identifier” portion of this command, you should enter the name of the operating system you have installed. If, for example, you are using Windows XP Home, you could type “Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition” for the identifier. This gives the process some authenticity, if you’re keen on being a perfectionist.

    6. This step verifies the integrity of the hard drive containing the Windows XP
    installation. While this step is not an essential function in our process, it’s still good to be sure that the drive is physically capable of running windows, in that it contains no bad sectors or other corruptions that might be the culprit. No screenshot necessary here! Just type CHKDSK /R /F at the C:\> prompt. Let it proceed; it could take in excess of 30 minutes on slower computers, when this is finished move on to the seventh and final step.

    7. This last step also requires no screenshot. When you are at the C:\> prompt, simply type FIXBOOT. This writes a new boot sector to the hard drive and cleans up all the loose ends we created by rebuilding the BOOT.INI file and the system files. When the Windows Recovery Console asks you if you are “Sure you want to write a new bootsector to the partition C: ?” just hit “Y,” then enter to confirm your decision.

    Results and Wrap-Up
    It’s time to reboot your PC by typing EXIT in the Windows Recovery Console, and confirming the command with a stroke of the enter key. With any luck, your PC will boot successfully into Windows XP as if your various DLL, Hive, EXE and NTLDR errors never existed. You’ve just saved yourself from many hours of work, frustration, potential data loss and shelling out your hard-earned greenbacks at a brick’n’mortar operation.

    Keep in mind that this solution is only designed to resolve the issues introduced in the preface if the cause is unrelated to spyware and viruses; while I have had significant luck with rebuilding heavily-infected systems in the method I have described, it is not guaranteed. If you believe your PC has affected one of these symptoms due to spyware or viruses, today’s fastest-growing PC nuisance, please do stop by our Spyware/Virus/Trojan Forum to receive first-class assistance in quarantine, removal and repair. Be sure to read the guidelines of our SVT Forum before posting!

    Good luck and happy hunting,
    Robert “Thrax” Hallock
  • edited May 2006
    Thrax - wow, nice article. I will have to give it a try tomorrow.
    Thanks for sharing.

    I heard from another source that the root cause could be the installation and the partitioning. Could partitioning first and then installing the OS be the cause?
    Should I have W2K to the partitioning?

  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited May 2006
    No, that's the standard procedure. Partitioning first with another app, or within Win2k shouldn't matter.. But it's not a big deal, I would imagine, if you reformat the drive and try again with Win2K's internal formatting tools if the guide doesn't work.

    Please note that this process is untested under Windows 2000 and it may not work. If it doesn't, just hop back into this thread and we can pursue some other avenues.
  • EssoEsso Stockholm, Sweden
    edited May 2006
    Very good description Thrax :thumbsup:
  • IndigoRedIndigoRed Perth Western Australia Icrontian
    edited May 2006
    Fantastic article! I'll be adding it to my tool kit for sure.

    But on another note, I too had the NTLDR problem with W2k. :mean: Consider this, as you've had the fault after more than one reload.

    I must have loaded up my pc 5 times including all the accessories only to have this crash occur after maybe 4-5 logins. Wanna ask about my demeanor? Naw, you don't want to ask... This from what is "supposed" to be one of the most stable Win platforms...

    It was only after I switched to WinME and had crashes that I twigged that there was more going on here. To cut a long story short, swapping out the varous boards led me to discover I was running with dodgy ram chips. And they were sneaky too, Running a check utility only showed a fault every 10-20 tests! Swapped them out and the system has been rock solid since.

    So, before too much agro, check out your hardware.

  • edited May 2006
    I am now faced with another issue due to this hard drive situation.

    Before wiping the drive clean of all data and partitions I wanted to pull the data off and put it back on my network drive. I removed the HD from the box and connected to a USB to IDE adapter with my laptop. To my dismay only one of the three drive partions (drives) was still accessable.

    Is there a repair I can do that will allow me to pull the data back off?
  • profdlpprofdlp The Holy City Of Westlake, Ohio
    edited May 2006
    See if TestDisk can help you out. If you need help with it, let me know. :)
  • edited May 2006
    profdlp - thanks I will give it a try tonight and report back my findings.

  • edited May 2006
    profdlp - TestDisk was able to view the other partitions however, it also told me that the partition in question had a bad file system. So, right now I can't move any of my data.

    Will the repair to the boot help this issue?
  • profdlpprofdlp The Holy City Of Westlake, Ohio
    edited May 2006
    jester89 wrote:
    profdlp - TestDisk was able to view the other partitions however, it also told me that the partition in question had a bad file system. So, right now I can't move any of my data.

    Will the repair to the boot help this issue?
    It can be a little tricky to get running, but TestDisk will probably be able to repair the partition. I don't have it up and running right in front of me at the moment, but look around for a "repair" or "fix" option.

    For that matter, you may be able to repair everything on all of the partitions and be back at full speed almost immediately.

    Good luck. :wave:
  • edited May 2006
    I tried and tried to get it working. I guess that I am having issues with the documentation. I think that I am doing everything in order to accomplish the repairs however, it does not seem to be doing any of that.

    Any chance on an idiot's guide.
  • profdlpprofdlp The Holy City Of Westlake, Ohio
    edited May 2006
    It's late here and I'm headed to bed, but if no one else chimes in between now and tomorrow morning I'll fire it up on one of my computers and give you a quickie guide regarding what to look for. :)
  • edited May 2006
  • profdlpprofdlp The Holy City Of Westlake, Ohio
    edited May 2006
    I'll be refreshing my memory on using TestDisk shortly. In the meantime, describe in as much detail as you can what the program finds regarding the partitions and what options you have tried (or which are available to try).
  • edited May 2006
    I am currently out of town and away from the HD in question. So, there will be a delay in getting information back to you.

    However, I can tell you what I remember about using it Monday.
    • from with the program I can see the contents of the other drive pertitions
    • I beleive that I have tried to repair the partitions but cannot really be sure
    Of the 3 partitions, it sees all three but only 1 of them has a "valid" filesystem

    Like yourself, I would need the program up in front of me. I am sorry that I did not take better notes. Thanks again for your help.
  • edited May 2006
    Hey, i had this same problem. What i did was just run Mandrake Move, or any version of linux and retrieved my data. Another solution to extract the data is to create a partition on your drive and install windows, then extract the data. After that i did a formatted and reinstalled.
  • edited May 2006
    profdlp - I am back at the house and will get you some notes on what I have tried with TestDisk so far. I should have them posted before midnight tonight CST.

  • edited May 2006
    profdlp - here are my notes from what I did using TestDisk
    • select drive (proceed)
    • select intel/pc partition
    • select analyse
    • select partition to locate (proceed)
    • I receive a structure okay message
    • select partition to list files
    • all files are viewable through test disk but not windows explorer
    • select filesystem utils and hothing happens

    Did I skip a step or not go through the process all the way?
  • edited April 2007
    Do you have a similar set of instructions for Windows 2000?
  • LeonardoLeonardo Wake up and smell the glaciers Eagle River, Alaska Icrontian
    edited April 2007
    I would imagine the XP and 2000 steps would be interchangeable.
  • edited April 2007
    Leonardo wrote:
    I would imagine the XP and 2000 steps would be interchangeable.
  • edited April 2007
    OK .... just so we are talking about the same thing. I am referring to the instructions, "Repairing Windows XP in Eight Commands". There is no bootcfg or fixboot file in Windows 2000.
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited April 2007
    That is correct.
  • edited April 2007
    Are there alternative steps to use for Windows 2000?
    I work for a Help Desk, and we encounter the "missing or corrupted system file" quite frequently.
    Today I am working on a missing or corrupt pci.sys file. I am trying to avoid a reimage.
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited April 2007
    Sometimes, running chkdsk /r on the drive with the MBR, and then replacing NTLDR/NTDETECT.COM/BOOT.INI in the root of the partition containing Windows works.
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