Error Message: NTLDR is missing when installed new HD

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Thread Starter
May 14, 2003
I am installing a new 120GB Seagate HD on my PC. However I am getting an error message of " NTLDR is missing".

I went to the Seagate website and they directed me to a Microsoft article. I did what the article said (I think...).

The problem is that I am running XP and for some reason there seems to be an image from Windows Me (my original software when I purchased my PC). When I go through the steps from the Microsoft website I encounter a problem when I get to the "sys" command. I check the bootdisk that I downloaded and is not on there.

What do I do now? Can I just download a file from somewhere?

I'll take any help anyone can give me.

Thanks in advance,
The Bossman

The directions from Microsoft are below:

"NTLDR Is Missing" Error Message When You Upgrade or Install Windows XP Over Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium Edition
This article applies to…
This article was previously published under Q314057
For a Microsoft Windows 2000 version of this article, see 255220.

When you attempt to install Windows XP or to upgrade to Windows XP on a computer that runs Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98, or Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me), you may receive the following error message after the first restart during the installation process:

NTLDR is missing
Press any key to restart
This behavior occurs only if Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me is installed on a large-capacity drive that uses the FAT32 file system.
This behavior can occur if your existing Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me installation was cloned and then applied to a drive that has a different geometry from that of the source drive of the cloned copy.

One possible scenario is as follows: You are running Windows 98 on a 4-gigabyte (GB) drive. After you upgrade, for example to a 30-GB hard disk, you use a third-party disk-imaging utility to make a mirror image of your Windows 98 installation and apply the image to the new drive. At a later time, you then upgrade to Windows XP, installing Windows XP over the cloned image of Windows 98.

For this behavior to occur, the following conditions must exist:
The system/boot partition is formatted with the FAT32 file system.
The computer boots by using INT-13 extensions (a partition larger than 7.8 gigabytes with a System-ID type of 0C in the partition table).
Because of the cloning procedure, the Heads (sides) value in the FAT32 BIOS Parameter Block (BPB) does not match the geometry of the physical drive.
The Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me boot code ignores the Heads value in the BPB and starts those programs even though the value is invalid. However, the boot code in Windows 2000 and Windows XP needs this value, and the boot process does not succeed if the value is invalid.
To resolve this behavior, correct the invalid Heads (sides) value in the FAT32 BPB to enable the Windows XP boot process to continue. The easiest way to update the field is to rewrite the Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me boot code by using the following procedure:
Restart the computer by using a Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me startup disk that contains the file (this file is included by default).
Make a backup copy of the msdos.sys file in the root directory of your system drive. To do this, type the following commands from the command prompt:
attrib -h -r -s c:\msdos.sys
rename msdos.sys *.ysy

At a command prompt, type sys c:. This command rewrites the Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me boot code with accurate BPB information. If this command runs successfully, skip to step 4.

If you are using a Windows Me startup disk and you receive an error message, "Cannot find the system file in the standard locations on drive C:", one or more files in the Windows Me installation have been removed. Use the following steps to place the correct files on the drive so that the sys command can locate them:
Start a command prompt by using the following commands (that is, type the commands and press ENTER after each command):

If Windows is installed in a folder other than the Windows folder, adjust the commands accordingly.

Try to switch to the Command folder by using the following command:
cd command

If an error message indicates that the path is not found, use the following command to create the Command folder, and then run cd command again:
md command

Switch to the EBD folder by using the following command:
cd ebd

If an error message indicates that the path is not found, use the following command to create the EBD folder, and then repeat the cd ebd command:
md ebd

In the EBD folder, use the following commands to copy the Io.sys file from the root of the hard drive and to rename the Io.sys file as Winboot.sys:
attrib -s -h -r c:\io.sys
copy c:\io.sys winboot.sys

Winboot.sys is the file that needs.

Switch back to drive A, and then run the following commands:
sys c:

Type the following commands, and press ENTER after each command, to restore the original msdos.sys:
attrib -s -h -r c:\msdos.sys
copy c:\msdos.ysy c:\msdos.sys

Press Y to overwrite the existing MSDOS.SYS file. You should receive a "1 FILE(S) COPIED" verification that the file was overwritten.

Restart the computer to Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me, and then try the Windows XP installation or upgrade procedure again.

NOTE: Alternatively, after you run the sys c: command, you can boot to the Recovery Console, and then use the fixboot command to rewrite the Windows XP boot code. This procedure enables the original installation to proceed typically.
Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed at the beginning of this article.
Aug 18, 2003
ok, you can go to and download a win me boot disk from there. it has the, i know for sure, i just checked my floppy that i created from that site. it also has the newest version of fdisk. remember to create, not copy, the bootdisk once you have downloaded it. you'll have to open the downloaded file like an application, and it should automatically check a: for a floppy.

good luck.


Thread Starter
May 14, 2003
Kerri Ann, I just did that and is not on there. What am I doing wrong?


Thread Starter
May 14, 2003
Okay, when I type the "sys c:" command I get the following error message:

An application has attempted to directly access the hard disk, which cannot be supported. This may cause the application to function incorrectly.

Quick note: I am typing "sys c:" from the command prompt from windows. If I boot up right from the floppy it won't recognize the c: drive. If chose to ignore the message I get a "not able to sys the NTFS file system".

Any other ideas?


Retired Moderator
Dec 26, 2002
No, and you shouldn't be able to sys a NTFS drive. You seem to have XP on this drive not Millenium.

So what version of Windows does the computer boot into? Did you just upgrade to XP? This new drive you just installed, is it a second drive or did you copy everything from the old drive to this one? Also have you partition and formated the drive(if secondary) by going into Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Disk Management. Right click on the new drive and format it.
Oct 6, 2003

I had a 80gig hd with winxp upgraded from win982nd edi.

Worked fine for years, however, some files were accidently erased from my c:\i386 folder... which from what i have been told is the windows xp's boot folder/system setup folder.

Namely, ntldr has gone missing.

When the computer boots, i am in the same predicament as yourself: basic black boot screen with options to get into bios, etc. and "ntldr is missing" "restart using alt+ctrl+dlt".

A tech mentioned that i should go to

Here is what i have found so far...toward the bottom you will find a website for restoring xp

Note that about halfway down is the problem solver we are having.

One key to our predicament though that i think we are both having: the masterboot record is corrupted.

How did i discover mine was corrupted? Using the Microsoft WinXP Home Edition Boot Disks (6 floppy disk version found on a link on the page above and found through, and then using the recovery console which you can find information about at and on the site listed above;i booted my system to get the drives to working, c drive and all floppy and cdroms etc.

Although all drives could now be accessed, i still could only see the files on c:\ that the boot disks had placed there temporarily.
I decided to copy ntldr and from another computer's c:\i386 folder to my computer.

When copying i got this message: "an error occured during directory enumeration"...huh?

So i tried to create a directory on the c:\ called i386... "mkdir c:\i386"... in order to have a location to copy the files to. Still the same error.

Next, i tried fixboot, a command placed on the c:\ with the 6-floppy boot disks. It told me plain as day, "master boot record is corrupted".

One last command has been tried so far, once again from the 6-floppy disks: fixmbr

fixmbr did not fix the problem... harddrive remains corrupted. Now an easy way to fix this is to use a full version of winxp for a full fresh clean install... my problem is that i have someone else's files on my pc that are not replacable at all. I was hoping to repair xp, not clean everything off and start from scratch... then again, my windowsxp upgrade disk has been missing for months due to flood damage and moving everything out and back into my room.

Before i go nuts trying to fix a corrupted mbr, does anyone know wether information on a harddrive is actually gone for good if the mbr is corrupted, or is there a chance that the files are still good even if the mbr is corrupted?

May 24, 2003
To: Bossman2 & Traifin,
I have successfully reinstalled WinXP before without losing the files on the disk. However, it depends a lot on the type of CD that you have and how you do it and I don't remember all of the details. I am currently in the same boat as both of you. I have a computer that had Win98SE and installed XP over the top of it (I don't remember if I reformatted as NTFS or not - I think that has a lot to do with the recovery efforts). The upgraded XP worked fine for several weeks then I tried to install a new video card and had lots of problems with the system hanging, etc. When I finally made the video card work, I noticed that the BIOS had the wrong disk geometry showing (don't know how that happened). When I corrected it, I saw the Missing NTLDR message and that is why I am looking at this web site.
I suggest the following: There is nothing on my computer that is critical so I will reload XP from scratch and see if it can be done without losing the files and I will report back here by tomorrow. In the meantime, I will also experiment with the previous instructions regarding rebuilding the master boot record to see if there is any additional info that I can gather since I can plunge headlong without worrying about losing files.
I'll keep a detailed log of my steps and let everyone know what I find.

May 24, 2003
Here is what I did and the outcome...

***BIG NOTE*** Everything that follows was done on a disk with a FAT32 file system. I cannot predict what will happen on a disk formatted with NTFS as the types of corruptions that may occur are likely totally different from the FAT32 disk issues.

1. I confirmed the file system on the hard drive.
....I used PartitionMagic but you can also just click on My Computer, then right-click on C-drive and click on Properties. It will show how the disk is formatted. Mine was FAT32. When I used PartitionMagic, it showed a problem with the partition table length on the drive and fixed the problem but that did not correct the NTLDR error.
[ NOTE: ] I also refreshed my memory on the history of the hard drive and found that it conformed in every respect to the details outlined in the Microsoft Article regarding "NTLDR is missing". That is, it was a drive cloned from a WinME disk that had a different geometry; the cloning was done with the wrong geometry specified for the new drive; it was a large drive formatted as FAT32; and it had Windows XP installed over top of the original WinME OS. Now according to the Microsoft article, this is the only scenario that can lead to the "NTLDR is missing" error condition. But apparently there are other causes, and the steps I took may not work in those cases. By the way, one way I could tell the geometry was wrong was that the BIOS reported the wrong size and even when I changed the info to the correct values, it would simply switch back to the wrong cyl/hd/sector count during the POST. I have left it at the wrong figures for now and it is working.

2. I then booted from the WinXP cd and went into the recovery console (which is simply the command mode of NT) and performed the steps outlined on the WEBTREE.COM site. That is, I copied the NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM files from the CD onto the root directory of the C drive. [ NOTE: ] I checked prior to doing the copy and found that both files were already present and looked ok (size, etc) so I did not expect this to help but I did it anyway and both copy operations asked me to allow OVERWRITE? which confirmed that both files were already present. Again, this step did not resolve the problem.

3. I then booted from the WinME startup diskette and at the A:> prompt I typed SYS C: which gave the error message: "Cannot find the system file in the standard location on drive C. SYS can only be used to attempt a repair of an already existing installation. Use SETUP to make the disk bootable."

4. I rebooted the WinXP cd, went to the recovery console again and typed FIXBOOT which said, "New Boot Sector Successfully Written." Since I was already in the recovery console, I also typed FIXMBR just to see if that would help. It gave the message "Disk appears to have non-standard MBR. If you continue, it could damage the partition tables and could cause all partitions to be inaccessible." I said 'Y' to continue, and it said, "Master Boot Record Successful".
...However, this still did not correct the "NTLDR is missing" error!!

5. I went back to the steps in the Microsoft article and tried those steps...

6. I booted again from the WinME startup diskette and then went to the C: drive. [ NOTE: ] I missed the first step which is to "unhide" the c:\MSDOS.SYS file (with the attrib -h -s -r command) and rename it. However, that was not an unrecoverable error so I continued.

7. I did cd \windows\command\ebd
attrib -s -h -r c:\io.sys
copy c:\io.sys winboot.sys
sys c:

8. I rebooted the WinXP cd and went to the recovery console (this is what corrected my mistake in step 6). I typed FIXBOOT again (said it was successful)

9. I rebooted from the C-drive and VOILA!! it worked. The system booted normally.

So, in my case, it appears that steps 2,3,4 were not necessary since the NTLDR and NTDETECT files were already present (although I would do it anyway, just to make sure) and steps 6,7,8 were the key here. Anyway, everything behaved as expected during this process. I suspect that a hard drive could be much more badly corrupted than mine was and require additional steps but I do not know how to simulate that at present.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Now, to the next matter, which is reloading XP to make it bootable. Again, since my drive was not terribly corrupted and since the previous steps allowed me to reboot as normal, I am not sure that the process of reloading XP will have the same results if the MBR cannot be corrected. However, just for general considerations, here is what I did...

First, I booted from the WinXP cd and went to the point where it asked if I wanted to Repair an existing installation or do a new installation. I said 'Repair' and it went through the entire process of loading XP from the CD and it reloaded it into the \WINDOWS directory and kept my registry and all files intact.

Second, I did the entire process again only this time I said New Install but specified a new directory for the install (I used \WINDOWS0). It went through the entire install again. So now I have two copies of XP to boot and it asks me at the start which copy I want (the top copy on the list is the latest install). The new install did not preserve the registry, users or settings and does not show any of the original installed programs. However, all of the original folders (user documents, and the installed program folders) are still on the hard drive and can be accessed from the new installation. You will need to search for the files since they may be hard to find, depending on where they were located in the original installation. If I boot to the original copy (which I can do on my computer since both are now compete and bootable), all of the original registry, users, setting, programs and files are present.

So, it appears that if the disk is not too badly corrupted, it is possible to repair or reinstall XP and save all of the files on the disk.

If none of the above steps work, prior to "nuke and pave" (i.e., reformat) on the C-drive, it is possible to install a new drive and load XP and then install the original as a slave drive (becomes D or E) and then copy the desired files to the new drive.

So, hope this helps to save those files that belong to someone else who will sue the $%&* out of you if you don't recover them.

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