Archives » November 8th, 2004

November 8, 2004

NTLDR is missing

Today I had a computer giving me the error, “NTLDR is missing. Press any key to restart.” This was during the boot sequence, before the Windows logo had even come up. NTLDR is the main boot file for the Windows NT family, including XP. IO.SYS and MSDOS.SYS served the same function for the DOS/Win98 crowd. It the files are corrupted, your computer isn’t going to do anything but sit there with its fans spinning. So I looked up the Knowledge Base and found KB318728, “How to troubleshoot the “NTLDR Is Missing” error message.” It describes the process of booting from your Windows CD and going to the Recovery Console, and then copying the files NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM from the CD to your C: drive. After that, Windows should boot fine.

When I did it, the computer wouldn’t even boot from the CD. I went into the BIOS and made sure that the CD was positioned before the hard drive in the boot order, but it still wasn’t happening. “NTLDR is missing.” Why was I getting that error before booting from the CD? So I rearranged the boot order again, putting the CD first. This time I was able to boot from the CD. I logged into the Recovery Console and copied the files, and went to restart. And that’s when I happened to glance over at the computer and I noticed the floppy disk in the drive. D’oh! I popped it out, and everything worked fine from there on.

So this was the teaching point for me. Any time you have boot problems with your computer, check the floppy drive first. I had been so conditioned to think that “Invalid System Disk” was the only error you could get from a floppy being in the drive. Apparently not!