How to Fix NTLDR Missing Error?

Use Nothing but a Windows Recovery Console

When a message pops up at our Windows boot screen screaming ‘NTLDR is missing… Press Ctrl, Alt, Del to restart’, it might be a stressful moment to handle. Not only because it prevents us doing our jobs that uses Windows’ applications, but it also leaves us with little room to recover. The problem makes Windows fails to boot and thus forces us to make a recovery process that only geeks know how. But actually with only little luck and understanding, you can fix it using only the Windows XP CD you have.

“NTLRD is missing error” message appears when Windows cannot find the specified file, which is NTLDR named file that is located in the root directory where you installed your Windows, usually C: drive. NTLDR itself stands for ‘New Technology Loader’ and it stores information about the primary hard drive’s active partition. In order to load Windows, your computer needs to know the information about Master Boot Record (MBR) including which sector it starts so that it can load the rest of the OS from there. In Windows XP, the MBR points to NTLDR. And when it is missing, your computer is incapable of booting the OS up.

There are so many reasons why the error happens and it could be either the file is really missing or the system cannot find the right path. There are many things that can trigger this event, from big hardware failure problem to small incidents. Even minor changes to your hardware configuration can trigger it, like adding an additional drive.

Whatever it is, if you have important files in the hard drive, the first thing you should do when you encounter this problem is to backup the content of your hard drive if it has not been done already. Use backup program that can easily save and stored data outside Windows like Acronis True Image. It has fully functional trial version from which you can reap the benefit specifically for this purpose.

Make creating a backup of your disk a habit when dealing with Windows problem that is related to hard disk failure no matter how small the risk is because losing important data (if there is any) is always a risk too far. It’s even better if you backup your disk regularly to better equip yourself when incident like this or worse is happening.

Disk backup software nowadays has spoiled us with a very easy and automated operation so with only one click of a button, you can run a set of backup commands. You can even set it to run automatically in the background at any given time, make it a set and forget process. So now there is no reason why you don’t backup your disk regularly.

Anyway back to fixing NTLDR missing file, these are the steps that you should take to fix it using Windows XP CD, copying the necessary file directly to your drive. This method is only one from many possible recovery possibilities to fix the problem. And it may not work on certain circumstances like corrupted boot sector or other hard drive failures.

1. Load your Windows XP CD into your CD drive, and let it boots. 
2. If it does not load automatically, you may want to change your BIOS setting to set your first boot sequence to your CD Drive. If you do not know how to do it, just go to your BIOS screen, usually you can access the menu by pressing ‘Del’ or ‘F2’ key at the very first screen when your computer start.

3. Assuming that the Windows XP successfully boots up, you will see the “Welcome to Setup” screen. Click ‘R’ button on your keyboard to start the Recovery Console. Basically, this is a Dos-based console where you can command some useful processes.

4. After the command prompt appears, type these commands:



The X symbol represents your CD Rom Drive letter, so you should change it with yours. This is basically a command to copy NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM from your Windows CD, specifically in its i386 folder, to your C: drive. In Windows explorer it would be the same as right clicking a file and choose ‘copy’ and then ‘paste’.

5. You are done. The files needed to load your Windows have just been copied to your hard drive. Now take your Windows XP CD out from the drive and type EXIT. This will restart your computer. Wait and see if it works.


Maybe for a precautious measure, you may want to consider having an emergency repair software. This kind of software has the ability to boot up your computer in case it fails. Unlike disk backup software that capable of doing one specific job, this kind of software can run many individual recovery tools like disk backup and cloning, Windows password recovery, file recovery, disk partitioning, file transfer, and other additional tools including restoring your NTLDR file easily. My recommendation is Spotmau PowerSuite. Although its individual tools are not as good as most software that are specialized for one single task, as an all-in-one Windows recovery software it offers lots more critical features that are absence in other software thus give a big possibilities of recovery.


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