How to troubleshoot ntldr.dll missing error?

NTLDR is the abbreviation of NT loader. It is the boot loader for all operating systems in the Windows NT family. Widely found in Windows XP operating systems. NTLDR.dll is the file is a loader that contains the list of other files that are to be loaded first. The NTLDR’s first action is to load boot.ini file. It also helps the user to boot up with pre-configured settings to the kernel. The NTLDR also allows the user to choose between different operating systems. The NTLDR can boot the operating system that is configured by boot.ini file.

For e.g. NTLDR can load Microsoft Dos operating system but the settings for Dos OS cannot be configured in boot.ini. Ultimately this confines the Ms-Dos to be loaded first.

What does the NTLDR do at system start?

First of all the NTLDR will try to access the disk file system. Usually the FAT file system is the default. Next the NTLDR will read boot.ini file. If the system is left in Hibernate mode, the NTLDR will read the hyberfil.sys instead of boot.ini. Suppose if the user prefer to choose operating system other than Windows that is installed in that PC, then the NTLDR will pass the control to the respective operating system. After reading the boot.ini file it will load the necessary drivers of the hardware peripherals that are used in this process.

What is NTLDR.dll missing error?

There are several problems in NTLDR but the most famous and commonly found error is “NTLDR.dll is missing”. Some of the valid reasons for this problem to pop up are.

  • Corruptions of NTLDR.dll file in the logical drive.
  • At start if the user tries to boot the operating system from a misconfigured or non configured boot.ini file then the NTLDR.dll will be corrupt.
  • On trying to load a drive as first boot device without a Windows operating system or a corrupted one.
  • Outdated BIOS version of the PC that may not suit the HDD configuration by the boot.ini.
  • Loosed HDD cables can also make the HDD and the OS disappear which will ultimately lead to NTLDR missing error.

Few solutions for you

Here are some suggested solutions to resolve this issue in your Windows PC.

  • First and foremost try a system restart because the problem may rise because of the improper shutdown or a hibernate conflict.
  • Then check the first boot device setting in the BIOS. If this setting is set to a non bootable CD/DVD or an HDD that doesn’t contain any operating system. This is like searching for a fruit in an empty basket.
  • If you cant locate the settings in BIOS which may look weird to you sometimes. At that time choose the default setting in the BIOS.
  • Insert the Windows XP CD, find the NTLDR and files and replace them.
  • Repair or replace the boot.ini file using the Windows XP recovery console. First insert the Windows XP CD, after that you have to add installation, enter the load identifier, enter the OS load option as fast detect and then eject the Windows XP CD.
  • If the Windows operating system resides on a corrupted partition then there will be a NTLDR missing error. Now re-partition the hard drive and install the operating system on a new healthy partition.
  • Check and correct the internal connecting cables in and out of hard drives and motherboard.
  • Update the BIOS version.
  • Remove Windows XP completely and re-install it or just repair the existing Windows XP.
  • If all these solutions don’t solve the problem then no other way you have to replace your hard disk.

Consequences of NTLDR missing:

The NTLDR.dll file may look small but when it fails to show up then the outcome is a Pandora box. Hence, if the NTLDR missing error occurs then the Windows XP operating system will be completely unreachable. If the operating system is unreachable then no longer the data, inside the HDD cannot be used by you. Sometimes the data may damaged or erased completely for e.g. at the time of re-partitioning or disk formatting. To save the data from this disaster you have to keep regular backups of data or eminent recovery software like Remo Recover Windows, which has the capability to restore data after format, deletion and even after corruption or loss of  hard drive partitions.

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Tony Landry

Tony Landry is a Web Content Editor at Remo Software. He loves to write, edit, and manage content for users trying to troubleshoot and fix problems on Windows, Outlook, storage drives and Cloud storage networks.

He has published more than 200 articles in Remo Software blog. He actively engages in research and problem-solving techniques to consistently generate great web content. Fixing various hardware problems on computer and storage devices along with a great knack for fixing Outlook errors, Tony is also the fun-time IT guy for all his work friends. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and enjoys cycling.

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