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How to Fix: NTLDR Is Missing

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    NTLDR Is Missing

    Recently, my best friend asked me for help since her computer couldn’t boot normally and she received a warning as follows:

    "NTLDR is missing
    Press Ctrl +Alt + Del to restart". (Picture below)

    ntldr missing

    Then, I Google "NTLDR is missing" and visit Windows forum as well as Windows Seven forum, and I find many people are talking about this error message.

    Although some users have received NTLDR missing error, most of them, in fact, don’t know what NTLDR is and how to fix this problem. Now, this post will show you the definition of NTLDR, typical causes of NTLDR missing issue, several solutions to fix the "NTLDR is missing" error, and some other useful information in order.

    What Is NTLDR?

    NTLDR, abbreviation for NT loader, is the boot loader for all releases of Windows NT operating systems up to and including Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003. NT loader is typically run from the primary hard disk drive, but it can also run from portable storage devices such as CD-ROM, USB flash drives, or floppy disk. Besides, NTLDR can load a non NT-based operating system given the appropriate boot sector in a file.

    NT loader contains three files. To be specific,

    • ntldr, the main boot loader itself;
    • NTDETECT.COM, required for booting an NT-based OS, detects basic hardware information needed for successful boot;
    • boot.ini, contains boot configuration (if missing, NTLDR will default to \Windows on the first partition of the first hard drive).

    NTLDR is launched by the volume boot record of system partition, which is typically written to the disk by the Windows FORMAT or SYS command.

    Typical Causes of "NTLDR Is Missing" Error

    Sometimes, users may receive the following messages when they try to start their computer.

    "NTLDR is missing
    Press any key to restart".

    Press any key to restart

    "Boot: Couldn't find NTLDR
    Please insert another disk".

    BootCouldnt find NTLDR

    "NTLDR is missing
    Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart".

    Press Ctrl +Alt+Del to Restart

    Here, do you know why NTLDR is missing and how to solve it?

    In general, there are many possible factors contributing to the NTLDR missing issue.

    The most common reason for this error is that your computer is trying to boot from a hard drive or flash drive that is not properly configured to be booted from. In other words, it's trying to boot from a non-bootable source. This would also apply to media on an optical drive or floppy drive that you're trying to boot from.

    And, other possible causes include corrupt and misconfigured boot-related files (NTLDR, NTDETECT.COM and Boot.ini), corrupt hard drive sectors, an outdated BIOS, and damaged or loose IDE cables, etc.

    Now, all we need to and can do is sparing no effort to try to figure out the real reason and find out the corresponding solution.

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    How to Fix "NTLDR Is Missing" Error

    Let’s start with a real-life example on how to fix NTLDR missing error.

    I formatted my PC because I had a virus. Now I'd like to install win7 again, but when I boot from the formatted HDD (without OS) is says NTLDR is missing. When I boot with the win7 disc in it, it says: windows is loading files. but after a while it is loading, it says that there was a problem comunicating with the HDD... how can I solve it?
    My HDD is a caviar green 1tb 7200rpm HDD
    --from www.cnet.com

    In general, if you happen to meet the NTLDR missing error, you can try using the following methods to fix your problem.

    Solution 1: Restart Computer

    Restart your computer. The NTLDR missing error could be a fluke.

    Solution 2: Unplug All Removable Media

    Since the "NTLDR is missing" issue is often caused by BIOS trying to load from an external non-bootable drive, you can try unplugging all external drives, and remove all removable media, such as CD, floppy disks, memory cards, and USB devices to make sure the BIOS doesn’t try to load from any of them.

    Solution 3: Change BIOS Boot Order

    Alternatively, you can check the BIOS boot order to ensure that the PC tries to load from an internal drive first. To check the boot order, follow these steps:

    warning Note: Make sure that the device you will select has boot files (or Windows operating system files) installed.

    Step 1: Restart the PC
    Step 2: Press the necessary key to open BIOS menu. This key depends on the computer manufacturer and computer model. This is usually listed on the first screen that appears on your monitor. It can be any of the following: Esc, Del, F2, F8, F10 or F12.
    Step 3: If the screen shows multiple keys, please find the key to open "BIOS", "setup" or "BIOS menu".
    Step 4: Use the arrow keys to select the Boot tab. Move the hard drive to the top of priority list. (An example of BIOS boot loader configuration screen is here.)

    bios boot

    Solution 4: Reset Active Partition

    When use Windows built-in Disk Management tool to mark your primary partition as active, the computer may not start up if the partition marked as active does not contain the Windows boot files (or boot files for another operating system), and you may receive the following error message:

    NTLDR is missing
    Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart.

    This behavior occurs because on Intel-based computers, the system partition must be a primary partition that has been marked as active for startup purposes. This partition must be located on the disk that the computer gains access to when starting up the computer. There can be only one active system partition at a time. If you want to use another operating system, you must first mark its system partition as active before restarting the computer.

    Now, to solve this problem, you can reset the active partition to fix this problem. And, MiniTool Partition Wizard is a wise choice for most common users to set partition as active since this tool offers wizard-based operation, high security and excellent performance. Detailed steps are here.

    Kindly reminder: the free edition of MiniTool Partition Wizard doesn’t provide Bootable Media Builder. Here, maybe, you can try the professional edition.

    Step 1: You need to boot your computer via MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable Disc to get the following window. Here, please choose the first option "Partition Wizard" to enter the main interface of MiniTool Partition Wizard.

    MINITOOL pe loader

    Step 2: Now, select or right-click the wrongly active partition and choose "Set Inactive" feature from the left action panel or from the pop-up menu.

    set inactive

    Step 3: Select the target partition which needs to be set as active and then click "Set Active" module.

    set active

    Step 4: In this window, you can preview the target partition has been marked as active, and you need to click "Apply" button on the top left corner and tap "Yes" to carry out preview effect.

    apply active

    Thus, all operations are done. And now, you can boot your computer again.

    For more solutions about active partition set incorrectly, you can see Here Are 3 Solutions after Accidentally Marking Drive C Active.

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    Solution 5: Update Your Motherboard's BIOS

    Occasionally, sometimes, if the basic input/output system (BIOS) on your computer is outdated, you may also receive the NTLDR missing problem.

    So well, please make sure that the latest revision for BIOS is installed on the computer. If not, you should contact the computer manufacturer to inquire about how to obtain, and then install the latest BIOS update that is available for the computer.

    Solution 6: Reseat All Internal Data and Power Cables

    NTLDR error messages could be caused by loose or malfunctioning IDE cables. So, try replacing the IDE cable with a new one if you suspect it might be faulty.

    Note: Before reseating any internal data or power cable, you must power down the computer and open the case.

    Solution7: Rebuild MBR

    NTLDR missing issue may also appear if the master boot record (MBR) is corrupted. In this situation, the only solution is to repair the master boot record (MBR). MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable Disc is recommended here since it can help to easily and quickly rebuild MBR. Now, let’s see the detailed steps.

    In the main interface of MiniTool Partition Wizard, select the disk whose MBR is damaged and then click "Rebuild MBR" feature.

    rebuild mBR

    Finally, click "Apply" button to perform the MBR restoration. When Partition Wizard completes all operations, please quit from the program and boot from local hard disk again.

    The following video will show you more information about rebuilding MBR.

    Solution 8: Restore NTLDR And Ntdetect.com File

    The NTLDR and Ntdetect.com files are important system files that are used by your computer to start the Windows operating system. These files are normally hidden and system protected, but they can become damaged, corrupted or deleted for a number of reasons. As a result, you cannot start your computer, and then you will receive the "NTLDR is missing" error message.

    In this situation, you need to restore the damaged/corrupted or missing NTLDR and Ntdetect.com files to solve this problem easily. Here, this post How To Restore NTLDR and Ntdetect.com From the Windows XP CD will show you the detailed steps.

    Solution 9: Reinstall Windows

    Here, if none of the solutions listed and described worked for you, it is safe to assume that the only thing that can resolve the "NTLDR is missing" error for you is a complete reinstallation of Windows. This solution will almost certainly resolve any NTLDR errors, but it will delete data. So, it is recommended to backup all needed data before reinstalling Windows. Copy Disk feature provided by MiniTool Partition Wizard can help to copy all partitions and data from one disk to another in several steps, as showing in the following.

    First, boot computer by using MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable Disc. Then, in the main interface of this professional tool, select the disk which needs copying and activate Copy Disk function from one of 3 places boxed by red line. Here, we choose "Copy Disk" from the left action panel to show how to clone MBR system disk to GPT.


    Next, select the disk that will save the copy of the source disk as the target disk and then click "Next".
    Note: the target disk should be large enough to hold all content on source disk, and you also need to backup all important data on this target disk in advance, because all its data will be deleted.


    Next, choose a suitable copying method to decide the layout of target disk and then click "Next" button.


    • If you are an SSD or advanced format HD user, we highly suggest checking the option "Force to align partitions to 1MB", which can improve disk performance.
    • Check the "Use GUID Partition Table for the target disk" to successfully clone MBR disk to GPT disk.

    After that, click "Finish" button to go back to the main interface.
    Finally, click "Apply" button on the top left corner to perform 7 operations pending.


    Watch following video to know more details about cloning MBR system disk to GPT

    Now, all operations are done. And then, you can safely reinstall Windows to fix the NTLDR missing error.

    Solution 10: Replace Hard Drive

    If you still receive the NTLDR is missing error after reinstalling Windows, you're most likely facing a hardware issue with your hard drive. In this situation, the only way you can do is to replace the damaged hard drive with a new one and then reinstall Windows.

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    After reading above content, you must have noticed that lots of factors can lead to the "NTLDR is missing" problem. And, this post provides several methods to help you fix the NTLDR missing error. You can choose a suitable one to fix this issue. Hope you can solve this error without any obstacle.

    Tip: to avoid data loss caused by various factors like NTLDR missing errors, you had better make a backup for all your important data.

    What’s more, if you have any questions or suggestions about the "NTLDR is missing" issue, please feel free to leave comments below. Much appreciated!