NTLDR is missing

NTLDR is missing. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart

NTLDR is missingmissing
After switching on your computer or after restarting Windows XP you receive an
 ‘NTLDR is missing‘ error message and cannot get into Windows.
You will usually have no choice but to switch off the computer or restart by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL.
This article describes several possible solutions to solving the NTLDR is missingerror and get your Windows XP PC up & running again.


You receive the NTLDR error message when starting or rebooting your computer:
NTLDR is missing.  Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart.


The NTLDR is missing error message is usually caused when the following conditions exist although there are other causes of NTLDR errors:
  1. The primary partition is formatted with the FAT32 filesytem
  2. The computer starts by using INT-13 extensions
  3. The heads value in the FAT32 BIOS Parameter Block (BPB) does not match that of the physical disk drive

NTLDR Solutions

Step 1 – Remove non bootable media

  • Remove any floppy disks, CD’s or USB sticks from your computer and restart.
  • If NTLDR is missing error appears again, proceed to step 2

Step 2 – Copy new system files

    1. Boot the computer using a Windows 95/98/ME startup boot diskette or bootable CD – If you haven’t get one then use one of these Windows Recovery Discs
    2. Backup MSDOS.SYS by issuing the following commands at the command prompt (pressing ENTER after each command):
      attrib -h -r -s c:\msdos.sys
      rename msdos.sys msdos.old
    3. Now copy new system files across by issuing the following command and pressing ENTER at the command prompt:
sys c:
Note: Sometimes the above command fails if you are using a Windows ME boot disk. If it does following solution ERROR: Cannot find the system file in the standard locations on drive C
  1. Rename MSDOS.OLD back to MSDOS.SYS by issuing the following commands and pressing ENTER after each at the command prompt:
    attrib -h -r -s c:\msdos.sys
    copy msdos.old msdos.sys
  2. Remove the boot disk/CD and insert your Windows XP CD
  3. Restart the computer by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL
  4. Ensure you boot the system from the CD.  The system will then boot into the Windows XP Setup.
  5. At the welcome screen press ‘R’ to enter the Recovery Console
  6. At the recovery console, select your Windows XP installation and enter your Administrator password if requested
  7. At the command prompt issue the following commands and press ENTER after each command:
  8. Remove your Windows XP CD and restart the computer
  9. If the NTLDR is missing error appears again after reboot, proceed to Step 3 below.

Step 3 – Windows Repair

  1. After Step 2 above, it is sometimes necessary to run or re-run the Windows XP Setup repair process
  2. If step 2 did not solve you issue re-insert your Windows XP CD and run Windows Setup again
  3. If NTLDR is missing error appears again, proceed to Step 4 below.

Step 4 – Download & Run BCUPDATE2

Occasionally this NTLDR error is caused by too many files in the root folder and an issue with an out of date windows version.

BCUPDATE2 is an official Microsoft fix for the NTLDR problem but is difficult to find and cannot be downloaded directly from Microsoft without first contacting support.
This can be solved by downloading and running BCUPDATE2.EXE as follows:
    1. Download BCUPDATE2.EXE by clicking here (this will open in a new window/tab)
    2. Copy BCUPDATE2.EXE into the root folder of a Windows 95/98/ME boot diskette or CD
    3. Boot the computer using the boot diskette or bootable CD
    4. At the command prompt issue the following command and press ENTER:
bcupdate2.exe C: /F
  1. When prompted to update the volume press Y
  2. After you receive a confirmation message, remove your bootable diskette or CD and restart your computer.

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