NTLDR is Missing Error Message

If you get an error message that says the NTLDR is missing during boot up there can be a number of causes. People automatically think this is a terrible error that cannot be fixed. Sometimes this is true, however most times it can be solved. If you are not good at technical stuff you can buy an emergency kit that will get you out of trouble. Recover your corrupted Windows instantly! However if you can follow a few instructions and know your way around your computer, then it is not that hard and you should definitely give it a go.

What is the NTLDR?

Firstly NTLDR stands for new technology loader. The NTLDR is a special program that helps load other software and files that are required to get your computer system to they are ready to use level. The NTLDR is used for most of Microsoft Windows NT operating systems, including Windows server 2003 and Windows XP. If you are seeing the error message “NTLDR not found” then you are probably using Windows XP as an operating system.

A boot loader usually resides in the nonvolatile portion of memory. The NT Loader is primarily run from the main hard disk drive, but it can also be run from storage devices like USB drives, flash drives, CD-ROMs, or even floppy disks. If an appropriate boot sector is given in the file, NTLDR can even be used to load a non-NT-based operating system.

NT Loader requires the following two files for its proper functioning:

  • NTLDR – It contains the main boot loader.
  • Boot.ini – It contains the configuration options.

The menu options are stored in the boot.ini file, and NTLDR allows a user to choose the desired operating system from the menu. It also allows users to pass some preconfigured options to the kernel. Boot.ini is protected from the user configuration, as accidentally changing some values in it can cause serious problems such as boot failure. A user needs to first unlock the boot.ini file to edit it.

NTLDR performs the following steps during the booting process:

NTLDR is missing

  1. It accesses the file system present on the boot drive. It can either be a FAT file system or an NTFS file system.
  2. If hyberfil.sys is available and it finds a hibernation image, then its contents are loaded into the memory and the system resumes where it left off. Otherwise, boot.ini is read and a boot menu is presented to the user.
  3. If an NT-based operating system is selected, then ntdetect.com is run; it gathers the required information about the computer’s hardware. However, if a non-NT-based operating system is selected, then NTLDR checks the boot.ini file and loads the associated files.
  4. Ntoskrnl.exe is then executed, and the information returned by ntdetect.com is passed to it.

Source = http://www.tech-faq.com/ntldr.html

The bootstrap loader takes the control over the booting process and loads NTLDR. Ntdetect.com is invoked by NTLDR, and returns the information it gathers to NTLDR when finished, so that it can then be passed on to ntoskrnl.exe, the Windows kernel.

Ntdetect.com is used on computers that use BIOS firmware.

Other reasons the NTLDR is missing

  1. First thing I do is check where the computer is trying to boot from. If it is trying to boot from the cd rom and not the hard drive, of course the file would be missing. If this is the case you should change your boot sequence in the bios.
  2. This message also comes up when I leave my external hard drive connected to the computer. I am too lazy to change the settings in bios, so I restart the computer with the external drive off. Then it boots as normal.
  3. Another rumor is that this error message comes up when you use a copied version of Windows. Sometimes I think this is also true.
  4. The computer cannot access your hard drive either because it is not set up in the bios, it is not connected properly to the motherboard, it has a damaged boot sector, and so on.
  5. If you have added a new hard drive and you get the message “NTLDR is missing” then it could be because you have Windows installed on the hard drive already. When installing a new hard drive it should be freshly formatted to avoid this problem.

How to replace the missing NTLDR?

If it is definitely trying to boot C: drive then try the following steps below.

NTLDR is missing for FAT32

If you have FAT32 partitions, it is much simpler than with NTFS.
Just boot with a Win98 floppy and copy the NTLDR or NTDETECT.COM files
from the i386 directory to the root of the C: drive.


  1. Insert and boot from your WindowsXP CD.
  2. At the first R=Repair option, press the R key
  3. Press the number that corresponds to the correct location for the installation of Windows you want to repair.
    Typically this will be #1
  4. Enter in the administrator password when requested
  5. Enter in the following commands (X: is replaced by the actual drive letter that is assigned to the CD ROM drive.
    COPY X:i386NTLDR C:
  6. Take out the CD ROM and type exit

Another way is to put your hard drive into and external drive and copy the file from the cd that way.

Why am I getting the NTLDR is missing error message in Windows Vista and Windows 7?

When Microsoft came out with Windows Vista they discontinued use of NTDLR as the boot loader (program thats used to start-up your computer). They instead replaced it with 2 new components “winload.exe” and the “Windows Boot Manager”. So operating systems from Vista onwards no longer use NTDLR as the method of choice for starting the operating system. Therefore  the NTDLR does not exist but the error does?

It is like a Phantom error when people see the ntldr is missing error in Windows Vista.

To  repair Windows 7 or Windows Vista you will need to insert the operating system CD and choose the repair option. If there is an option to repair boot manager or startup repair then choose this. Hopefully this will repair your windows error messages for you without any hassle.

If this option isn’t available then start a command prompt and do a manual recovery.

For the manual recovery you need to try and fix the MBR and bootsectors:

Type the following into that command prompt:

bootrec.exe /fixmbr
bootsect.exe /nt60 all /force

Then type this to try and rebuild the BCD type:

attrib -h -s C:bootBCD

del C:bootBCD
bootrec.exe /rebuildbcd

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Can you download the NTDLR and NTDETECT.COM files?

If you are using Windows XP and you do not have an operating system cd then there are other options to try. For example you might have another Windows XP computer where you can copy the files from and transfer them to your other computer. The files are located in C:i386ntldr C:i386ntdetect.com.

You can also borrow a friend’s windows XP disk, which will have the missing files that you need. Therefore you will be able to repair the “NTLDR is missing” Windows error.

There are also options to download the NTDLR and NTDETECT.COM files from the Internet, however how do you know who to trust? The files could contain a virus so I do not recommend this option.

one way of transferring the files on to the hard drive you want to fix, is to take it out and put it in an external hard drive, then connect it to a working computer that contains the files you want. Copy the files from the location mentioned above, and paste them on to the connected hard drive, in the right location.

The Windows error NTLDR is missing is not a major problem and can be fixed by you or some simple software.


  1. jose says

    My windows 7 boots up fine i can work for a few hours. But after that my computer goes dark and i get the error Ntdlr is missing. Message press crlt alt delete to restart. The funny things is that if i press restart i get the same error again. But if i shutdown the computer manually the computer boots fine and i let me work for a few hours. I recently did a factory restore. If any can help please let me know.


  2. raj says

    1. Load Windows XP CD into CD drive.
    2. Make sure BIOS is set to boot to CD drive.
    3. Boot the computer from CD.
    4. At menu, press “R” to load Recovery Console.
    5. Select the installation to be fixed.
    *The following instructions assume CD-ROM is labeled as drive D and the hard drive partition the windows installation is on is labeled as drive C. Replace the letters accordingly.
    6. Type “COPY D:i386ntldr C:” and press ENTER.
    7. Type “COPY D:i386ntdetect.com C:” and press ENTER.
    8. Remove CD and type “EXIT” and press ENTER (to reboot your computer.

  3. jack says

    I formatted my hard drive in a flash drive on another computer and then tried to install the operating system on the original one, but still came up with NTDLR is missing and a hard drive failure message and I even tried A WIN 85floppy to solve things without any success, I can use the drive in a flash drive OK, so what have I done wrong????

  4. robert says

    cancel the last, i dotn have partition so i just had to enter ‘logon’ first

    this worked, thanks much

  5. robert says

    i tried this, using ntfs system, but got the message
    ‘the file could not be copied’