[Solved] Fix ‘NTLDR is Missing’ Errors

“NTLDR is Missing : Press any Key to Restart” – this is the first message I got on my computer screen when I turned it on… and NTLDR Missing errors werer not as uncommon as I thought it was! Here is my experience troubleshooting NTLDR Missing errors on my computer…


What is NTLDR?

ntldr missing

NTLDR is short for NT loader – a program loaded from the hard drive boot sector that displays the Microsoft Windows NT startup menu and helps Microsoft Windows NT load. So when it goes missing for some reason, your windows cannot load. I use Windows XP on a Pentium 4 PC. Though it seemed common on a routine google search, it was not so easy to fix and many forums reported that formatting hard drive was the last solution eventually.

Causes and fixes of NTLDR is Missing

NTLDR is missingFirstly I started with Microsoft Support to get an official reason for the computer error and they have the causes to it. The article says that the problem may occur if your existing Windows 95,  98, or Millennium Edition installation was cloned and then applied to a drive that has a different geometry from that of the source drive of the cloned copy.

To resolve this problem, correct the Heads (sides) value in the FAT32 BPB so the Windows XP startup can continue. To update the value, rewrite the Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium Edition startup code.

But the problem was that I had an original preinstalled Windows XP on my branded PC, and there was no attempt to “try to install Microsoft Windows XP or upgrade to Windows XP on a computer that runs Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium Edition”. So I went looking for alternative sources of help.

I can across a site NTLDRmissing.com – (a problem common enough to deserve its own domain name!). It helps you make a NTLDR boot disk to get back into Windows and Use windows to fix the boot files on the hard drive.  They advise that most likely the BIOS either didn’t look for the right drive, didn’t find the right partition, it wasn’t active, didn’t find the MBR, or the MBR didn’t list NTLDR in the right place, or the location of NTLDR changed.”

ComputerHope has another excellent article enlisting the causes for these errors and tutorials on how to fix them too. They suggest it could have been caused by computer is booting from a non-bootable source,  hard disk drive is not properly setup in BIOS, a corrupt NTLDR and/or NTDETECT.COM file, a possible  misconfiguration of boot.ini file, a bad attempt to upgrade from a Windows 95, 98, or ME computer that is using FAT32 etc.

How we fixed Missing NTLDR on Our Computer

We tried several of the possible solutions, but none worked well. Finally what worked was that since NTLDR was missing, we decided to substitute the NTLDR file in the right place. Since we had access to another computer, we copied the NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM which was available from the recovery CD which comes with computer. If you do not have the recovery CD, they were available from the site mentioned above or is available from another computer using the same Operating System (Windows XP in our case). The location was C:\i386\ntldr C:\i386\ntdetect.com

We then used a bootable disc to restart the computer (the Win XP bootable CD did not work, a Win 98 bootable CD worked). After entering MS DOS mode, these 2 files were copied to the C drive in the proper location. After restart, then pressing F10 on start up (used for system recovery on my computer), we were able to start the repair of Windows via system recovery (which was not possible earlier). This reinstalled all Windows drivers and system files, while preserving all data on my computer.

Thus, I was saved from formatting my hard drive, learned how to make a bootable disc, learned copying files in MS DOS, how to perform system recovery and remember to keep the original PC system recovery CD safe. So before you end up formatting your hard drive, give these other options a try.

Note: This was tested on older versions of Windows – if you have Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10, then you need to check if these will work for you.

NOTE: This article is for informational purpose only and is just a detail of how I went about fixing my computer for common NTLDR error which can affect your computer too. If you are not an expert in hardware or software computer issues, seek professional support. Unnecessary mishandling the computer hardware of software could make your computer unusable and cause data loss permanently.

125 comments on “[Solved] Fix ‘NTLDR is Missing’ Errors

  1. Jago says:

    I get this problem every few times I start my PC. I’ve discovered it’s caused by the computer ‘losing’ my C: and trying to boot from the D: (which obviously doesn’t have NTLDR on it). I have to go into the BIOS and change the boot properties to ensure that c: is the first hard drive in the list…??

    No idea why this happens though??

    • Mees says:

      Sad enough, you can’t change this in de BIOS.

      The boot information is all stored in the MBR.
      (Master Boot Record)

      You need a bootable drive like displayed int his page.

    • Ricardo McCarthy says:

      I found that missing NTLDR in in windows XP was a sign of a corrupt hard disk. I installed a new hard disk, downloaded operating system from recovery disk from manufacturer, downloaded all windows updates & hardware drivers. The computer runs like new.

      Ricardo McCarthy

  2. Anonymous says:

    you could setup your bios to use the cdrom as a boot drive then boot the windows xp install cd and tell it you wish to repair an installation, from there you could copy the files. save you from using a win98 disk

  3. Ray says:

    Just had this problem (21 June 2006!!!) and could not “Repair” obviously, because the install is looking for NTLDR etc.
    By far the simplest method for me was to install a new copy of XP into a “junk directory on the same partition as my original copy of XP. I merely told the install process to use the folder c:\windowszzz.
    That puts ntldr etc back in place and you can simply start using the old windows OS as though nothing had happened.
    It took about an hour to do the entire fix. HTH

  4. kulasekhar says:

    it is useful for every one to solve problems

  5. Lee says:

    I have a HP notebook came with win xp home its about 4 years old Hard drive crash so I got a new one and put it in but now I get error message NTLDR file is missing I do not have a floppy drive on note book how do I fix? I newbe terms please!!!

  6. abrhaley teklay says:

    It is very excellent for defining the problem of ntldr & how to solve its problem.But in some others the solution is not so clear.
    thank you!

  7. Jade says:

    i have replace the damage motherboard but after replacing the display says “ntldr is missing” i used ntldr fixing procedures from the internet no chage? i used the single drive and devided to two and i use for booting is drive d:, c: is for back-up. “ntldr missing” displays after i replace a new mother board. pls help me… E-mail me at jazzistyla@yahoo.com

  8. segun says:

    Please i need you to tell me the website i can get to download for NTLDR is missing online.

  9. Nikosami says:

    um..the site that travis gave you has the ntldr file missing replacement on it. download it and put it into a floppy it will replace all the file inside that floppy so make sure it’s blank or no files on it. when you load it up the comp will search for the floppy and then you try from 1-10 if it still doesn’t work then you go into safe mode and do the same process over again it takes a lenghty time to do all this but it’s quite worth it if you want to get your computer to work again anyways if it still doesn’t work they suggest you get the window xp software and push repair and make sure it’s not an upgrade software another is that if it still doesn’t work i say you get professional help it’ll cost around 40 bucks…or you can skip right to the proffessional help…either way or get fustrated and attack yoru computer that works too

  10. marius says:

    try booting a xp cd. then enter the recovery console by pressing “r” when it gives you the option.

    follow the prompts untilyou find a command line line that looks something like this

    enter the following two commands


    do not do this if you have a dual boot system. it will render the second boot os useless. if you don’t know about dualbooting then go ahaed and try this it ca’t do any harm. saved me many times with all sorts of problems

  11. vasu says:

    i have only a completely new hard drive in my lap top and no OS and i am trying to install windows XP home frm the cd however the ntldr error appears when i boot frm the hard drive as well as thee cd rom drive. i can therefore only go as far as into the bios and switch the boot types around. this has no effect i cannot access the cd and the harddrive is new (so there is no point booting from an empty hardrive)

  12. Apasijgaldg says:

    I have this same problem

    i have only a completely new hard drive in my lap top and no OS and i am trying to install windows XP home frm the cd however the ntldr error appears when i boot frm the hard drive as well as thee cd rom drive. i can therefore only go as far as into the bios and switch the boot types around. this has no effect i cannot access the cd and the harddrive is new (so there is no point booting from an empty hardrive)


  13. edwin says:

    am still not able to fix ntfs missing

  14. Wamono moses says:

    Hmmm… NTLDR dis thing has given me 24 hrs stress. After instaling xp on my drive this morning, guess wat i see, “NTLDR is missing press any key to restart” and ma key board wasnt functiong so i unplug the HD and put the xp CD in the CD drive, then start the pc and as soon as it read read the xp OS, i plugged in the HD and boom. I sets off instaling. I hav 2 partitions and on disk C:\ i decided to reinstal xp

  15. joe says:

    wel…my problem on NTLDR missing.is that i cant load any OS(2000 or Xp).during the boot stage…it ask press any key to boot from CDRom.immediately NTLDR is missing ,press ctrl+alt+del to restart.that wil be the message that wil pop out.please i need to load my operating system on my PC

  16. elnur says:

    hello i have the same problem..i deleted something then i have ntldr is missing..can i fix it by myself? and one more question…do i lose my all data?

  17. tya_soft says:

    I am also facing this problem with this annoying message “NTLDR is missing.Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE to restrat”.Can any body suggest me how to fix it.Thanks!

  18. jas says:

    tya_soft – doesnt all the information above suggest what you can do ?

  19. Rin says:

    Is there anything I can do if I want to be able to start windows off of 2 different hard discs, like so i can switch back and forth with the same computer?

  20. jim_896ech.com says:

    Hello all,

    Last night I was up all night trying to fix the missing NTLDR problem. After 18hrs of research I now have a green belt in XP and Win 2003 startup knowledge.
    Here is the abridged version of the solution I had to implement to get Win 2003 to finally boot.

    I drop to recovery mode and used fixboot to set the partition to bootable. Then used fixmbr to tell it to boot off the HDD. However, the drive I was trying to set wouldnt accept that it was supposed to be bootable. I had already copied the ntldr, ntdetect.com, and boot.ini file to the root of the hard drive, but when I would boot the computer it wouldnt even recognize the hard drive as bootable. I could however get a differnt hard drive in the computer to accept being bootable and tried to set the boot.ini on it to look at the hard drive with the installation on it, but still no go.

    I spent 18hrs learning about how Win 2003 boots to figure out what I was missing. At about 2am my brother and I quessed that perhaps the tools we were using from the recovery console were not doing their job correctly.

    We decided to use a linux solution to set the partition as bootable. We loaded Knoppix 5.1 (almost any version of knoppix should do) and used cfdisk. Its a utility to create partitions in linux. The key feature it had that we used to fix out problem was setting the partition to bootable. After we did that, everything the arthur said worked.

    So, after this I must say that I am even more disappointed with the tools in Windows than usual. There were to tools that had failed to work, fixboot and another called bootcfg (which sounded like a cool tool but kept giving us errors and unable to complete its job.)

    All in all i would say 3 cheers for the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows, Knoppix, and the author of this article site.


  21. Ross says:

    pop in your recovery disk / disk you got to install windows with and then follow the instructions

  22. Dumisa says:

    I`ve bought a second hand computer that was already installed Windows 98 and i decided to upgrade it to Windows XP Home Edition when i run the setups it say NTLDR is Missing : Press any Key to Restart.I made research about this it is said that i should get Win 98 bootable CD i tried retailers in East London but i did not get it help where else can i find this Disk

  23. Gotham says:

    Last night i recieved this message saying ” NTLDR Missing” Please press any key to restart. Now i have had both 98 and xp installed for a long time. The problem arised when on c: I deleted some files accidentaly. My hard disk is detecting normally as a slave on another pc with all my backup taken. I want to eliminate this problem keeping 98 & Xp as it is. S.O.S.

  24. rohin says:

    copy the ntldr file from the XP installation cd…after booting to recovery console

  25. rohin says:

    steps to boot to recovery console…boot the xp cd in tghe top most drive..change the boot seq in the bios to boot from cdrom…from the main screen after booting of the XP os cd..choose r to repair xp via recovery console. Press 2 …no admin password hit enter …
    from a c:\windows prompt type c:\ (enter)

    type map.. to find the drive letter of the cdrom drive..

    let say it E:
    E:\cd I386>copy ntldr d:\ (which ever partition has XP

  26. Mark says:


    I tuned on my laptop this morning with the message (NTLDR is missing press any key to restart). Every time I pressed any off the keys it kept repeating the same message n can’t seem to get past it, I have tried putting in my XP disc, but nothing works,, its doing the same thing day in day out

  27. Jameson says:

    NTLDR is missing, I have tried to install the XP, it says ” setup did not find any hard drives installed in your computer. make sure any hard drives are powered on and properly connected to your computer and any disk related hardware configuration is correct. This may involve running a manufacturer supplied diagnostic or setup program.”

    Please assist.

  28. Ronald says:

    Hi guys.

    Here is my 2 cents.

    “When your computer starts, the BIOS attempts to find the primary hard drive’s active partition to read the first sector for the MBR (Master Boot Record), it uses that info to load the rest of the OS…”


    “NTLDR is missing, press any key to restart”

    I HAVE SPENT hours looking at fixing this error after formating my sons PC (he had heaps of crap installed and wanted a fresh start).

    I formated the C: (and kept all his data backed up on the partioned D: and E: drives). This will work on a “new” hd or recently formated hd.

    I did not have the old school floppy disks (my son has not even seen one, lol!) to make a startup disk or to try and Download the fixntldr.exe from a working computer.

    SO INSTEAD tried something dangerous as i was desperate (and note this was my sons PC so the stakes were not high – but i had to try for his sake).

    SOLUTION: Remeber from the start..” ….computer starts, the BIOS attempts to find the primary hard drive’s active partition to read the first sector..”


    SETUP BIOS to read CDROM first as you should have already tried (remember hit del key just after startup).

    The stupid harddrive IS the problem and this “New Technology Loader” crap IS the problem.


    4. TURN ON PC (NO HARD DRIVE = NO NTLDR is missing error!!!)
    5. WINDOWS XP CD WILL BOOT UP AND START LOADING AS NORMAL (and you will not get NO NTLDR is missing error!!!)
    6. IT WILL START LOADING THE CD AND BEGIN THE “COLLECTING INFORMATION PART” (you will not see the typical “NTLDR is missing, press any key to restart”
    7. AT THIS STAGE CAREFULLY REPLUG THE CABLE AND POWER AS SOON AS YOU CAN (there is no rush actually, dont bump anything – have your son ready to poke a stick at u away from the PC and to call the ambulance if necessary if you get electricuted)
    9. THEN FINALLY TELL YOUR SON “I’m the MAN!!!!!”

    Try this guys when you have exhausted all your alternative options please. I actually broke a sweat on this PC problem.

  29. Paresh Chavan says:

    I too had the similar problem..Even when i inserted a WinXP bootable CD it was not going to the setup. So this is what i did. I inserted a Win2000 setup CD. I went on the repair section and choose the recovery console. After that i choose the windows installation and checked for the files ntldr and ntdetect.com. But surprisingly i found that ntldr was renamed to ntldv. So i just renamed the file back to ntldr and rebooted. It worked…

  30. ping? says:

    Ronald who posted #28 likes to live dangerously. Hot-plugging hard disks is a rather bad idea.

    Most BIOSes that can boot from CDs also have an option to set up boot order. Go to BIOS setup, find the boot order option, and set it to boot from CD before the hard drive. Save and reboot. No need to disassemble or unplug anything.

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